Gavin and I have been in our little 1970’s three bed semi-detached house for almost two years now. And we’ve pretty much just painted the walls and replaced the bathroom flooring (due to a very inconvenient bathroom tap leak when my youngest was two weeks old). Other than that, we’ve been biding our time, saving our pennies and just settling in. Recently we tried to buy another house and were outbid. It was a bummer at the time, but it gave us food for thought on all the things we loved about our current place and how we could improve it. Starting with the kitchen. We’ve just been through the design process and are now gathering quotes. In a previous life, I worked in Interior Design so this part was a fun blast from the past. I learned a lot of valuable things about designing a functional kitchen layout, so I thought I’d share our process with you.
You can, of course, opt for a kitchen designer. Either independent or one who works for your kitchen supplier of choice. Having a bit of background in the industry and also having researched the process, we’re coming up with the kitchen design entirely by ourselves (although paying to have the actual work done).
Set Your Budget
After speaking with people who have completed similar work to what we’re intending and have similar-sized kitchens, we’ve set our budget at approximately £10k with a 10% contingency. I, personally, find design posts that don’t include a transparent budget a bit difficult to relate to. So, I’m happy to share costs with you all and how they vary during the process of the build. Obviously, this budget is set based on our own design (which involves knocking through to make a kitchen/diner) and local rates, so keep in mind that those vary.
Inventory Your Current Kitchen
A good start for this is to have a clear out. There is no point factoring in space for those serving platters or appliances that you never use.
Next up is a step that every other article I read seemed to miss out, but was absolutely critical when designing our space. List out everything you keep in your kitchen. Everything. Crockery, utensils, tins, tea, glasses (each type – my husband annoyingly hoards beer glasses), slow cooker etc. I suggest you batch things like crockery because you likely have a good idea of how many plates etc you have. But get granular with your appliances and the food you likely buy. Do you have loads of spices? Do you buy pasta or rice in bulk? Do have a dedicated biscuit cupboard?
Once you’ve got a picture of everything you’ll need storage for, you can start to list out the pros and cons of your current space. For instance, I know I cram my pantry cupboard to bursting, so I’ll need more space for dry foods. Also, I really like that we have drawers for our crockery rather than a cabinet, so that will get factored into the new design. We also heavily use a ‘family wall’ in our kitchen for things like reminders and our wall calendar, so we need to maintain space for that. Designing a kitchen is an opportunity to create a personalised space that will work for your family. You can’t do this unless you take stock of both what you need and what you want.
Measure Your Current Space
You also can’t accurately design a space until you take true measurements of the space you have, without current fixtures and cabinets. Don’t forget to include doorways, as well as the swing direction of said doors. Also pay attention to heights, like your window heights, ceiling heights, and any bulkheads, corner pillars or other obstructions you may look past on the daily, but need to factor in. Now is a good time to utilise an online kitchen planner (or take good old pen to paper if you’re a whizz at drawing up a floor plan). We used the IKEA kitchen planner (you don’t need to be buying an IKEA kitchen to make use of this) but this one is a good alternative too. If you know which company you’ll be buying your kitchen from, this could form part of their service.
Review The Footfall And Flow Of Movement
Have a think about how you’ll naturally move through your proposed layout. Reduce steps in each process where possible. Zone your kitchen for common tasks like cleaning up, prepping, cooking and serving. Then ensure you have the right cupboard and drawer space for dishes, cutlery and food wraps near the serving station. Next to the cooking and prep zone have utensil drawers, pot cupboards, and pantry ingredients. And at your cleaning zone make space for food bins, dishcloths and cleaning products. The aim of the layout game is to keep items as local to the required zone as possible. We’re also choosing to factor in our kids, even while they’re small by incorporating a kid height snack drawer. We’ll put healthy snacks in there and water bottles so they can always help themselves.
Can you move noisy ones out of the kitchen and into a utility room? Washers, dryers, dishwashers, microwaves etc are the main noise culprits. For some people, this may not be an option, but if you have an extra space you can utilise, go for it. Especially if you’re creating any open-plan or kitchen diner spaces. Other things to keep in mind are the existing plumbing and gas supplies to the space. If you’re thinking of relocating either of these, then you’ll need to factor in the relocation of these utilities too. If you’re going to have an extractor fan, think about whether you want to track this outside or use a system with a charcoal filter system (which don’t need to be ventilated outside).
To some of our families dismay, Gavin and I have chosen not to cram our entire space with cupboards. In fact, we’re not having any top units at all. Just one floor to ceiling pantry cabinet. This was important to me because we have lovely light in the room and I wanted to maximise that in our small space. I also know from step one that we don’t actually need 102 cupboards. I know everything we need to store and we’ll have space left over.
When configuring your cabinets, most of us have an idea of how we want them to look. Often when you start thinking of a new kitchen, it’s the first thing you think of, colours and finishes. But whilst that’s an important aspect to mull over, it also helps to have a think about the inside of your cabinets too as well as the configuration. Are you having top cabinets? How will you fit out corner cabinets? With an interior turntable, fancy swing-out shelving system, or just plain shelving that stretches back into the corner? Do you prefer drawers or cabinets? Do you want cabinets with drawers inside? A lot of this harks back to step two of inventorying your kitchen. Once you’ve done that and had a think about how you want to store the resulting items, the cabinets just become a jigsaw puzzle of how to fit it all best into your space.
To attempt to fit everything we’ve been learning in the design process of this kitchen renovation into one post would make it ridiculously arduous and long. A bit like that sentence. So I’ll be back this time next week with part two, talking about dining spaces, worktops, heating, flooring, lighting and power points… You know… All the really fun stuff that gets you excited in your thirties.
And whilst this post has made me suddenly aware of how old I actually am, I hope it’s proven useful to at least some of you. And in a bid to make it even more useful, if you’ve made it this far and have any advice or input for those of us embarking upon kitchen renovations… I would love to know all about it in the comments.