Most householders are unfamiliar with buying a new kitchen
After all, it’s unlikely that we will have to do it several times in a lifetime – so it’s natural to feel daunted by the choice and pitfalls. An expense of this size is not to be undertaken lightly, so the more help and advice available the better.
Before you buy a new kitchen, think carefully about what you really need or you could end up with something totally unsuitable. Work out what works well and what doesn’t in your present kitchen, then make notes for your kitchen retailer so that a kitchen can be tailored to your precise specifications.
What to consider:
The style of your kitchen
The layout of your kitchen
Appliances and furniture
Flooring and lighting
Safety and hygiene
The style of your kitchen
From ultra-contemporary to traditional farmhouse style kitchens, there are many different styles and materials to select from when choosing a new kitchen.
Like in any other industry, kitchens have their fashions – in recent years there has been a shift from traditional detailing towards a more modern, clean look.
In fact, the latest most popular look is the high gloss unit, which is available in many colour options and offers a very simple, clean look. A recent survey revealed that 38% of people having a new kitchen would choose a contemporary wood and 26% would choose a contemporary high gloss kitchen.
White and cream are still the most popular colours – totalling 62% of the people surveyed, with 5% choosing black, 4% blue, 3% red and 26% preferring another colour.
Grainy woods have also been a recent trend and Cherry is rising in sales along with the more unusual woods including apple wood, pear wood and bamboo!
Simple stainless steel handles enhance the effect and make a compact kitchen look larger, and there are even drawers available now that open with a simple push, so handles are no longer needed!
Stainless steel is still a major trend in both modern and traditional kitchens at present, and it is likely to remain a strong influence in kitchens for some time to come.
Granite has also become much more popular as a worktop material. A large 47% of those surveyed preferred a granite worktop with 11% choosing wood and 10% preferring a composite material such as Corian.
If you’re thinking of buying a new kitchen, make sure it’s one which will be a real showstopper – try to get an idea of what you like before you visit your kitchen retailer by looking for inspiration in home interest magazines, or here on our page and take along pictures of kitchens that you like.
The layout of your kitchen
There are a number of recognised types of kitchen layout (as seen below), most new kitchens will fall into one of these basic designs and your kitchen retailer will help you to decide on the design which will best suit your needs and space.
The simplest of layouts is the single galley for narrow rooms. Suitable for one or two people to use at once, single galleys are best planned with the sink in the middle of the line and built-in or built-under appliances to make the most of valuable space. There should be adequate “setting down” space beside or above the oven, plus an area of worktop between the hob and sink.
Double galley kitchen
A double galley, with two facing lines of cupboards, is slightly more versatile with the possibility of the sink opposite the hob, providing the room is not a through room. There should be at least 1.2m between the two lines of units.
L shaped kitchen
An L-shaped kitchen has cupboards along two adjacent walls and benefits from a lack of through-traffic. The hob, fridge and sink should ideally be separated by areas of worktop, to provide adequate preparation space. A corner cupboard gives the opportunity for a generous amount of accessible storage, either in a carousel or a magic corner.
U-shaped kitchens are an extremely effective design solution, utilising three full walls of a kitchen. The cooker, sink and fridge can all be surrounded by a large amount of worktop and there is usually sufficient space for a good selection of appliances and cupboards. A peninsular unit that juts out into the centre of the room from one end of the L- or U-shape is a particularly effective way of creating additional storage and food preparation space. Often used to separate cooking and dining areas or to create a breakfast bar arrangement, it is worth making cupboards accessible from either side for crockery and cutlery.
A peninsular unit that juts out into the centre of the room is a particularly effective way of creating additional storage and food preparation space.
The remaining standard design is the island layout, which is only suitable for larger rooms. Careful planning is needed to prevent wasted journeys around the island, but it can be used for either storage, a hob, or a sink. A stunning cooker canopy can make a focal point of this area of the kitchen.
The average kitchen in the UK is of a modest size. Glossy magazines and catalogues feature kitchens that are large and this makes smaller ones seem inadequate. However, good kitchen designers relish the challenge of small kitchens and take pride in creating space while incorporating generous storage facilities and all the appliances you want.
Quality kitchen manufacturers make a huge range of cabinet sizes to customer order so there is no need to waste precious inches with filler panels. Ingenious internal fittings give easy access within cabinets and again ensure that every inch of space is available for use.
Wall cabinets can be extended to reach the ceiling to accommodate rarely used items and reduce dust traps.
Choose light colours such as white, cream, pastels, pine or limed wood effects or go for a high gloss unit as this will reflect the light. Worktops have a strong visual impact and they too should be light in colour, giving a mild contrast to your choice of cabinet. You can then go for stronger contrasts with your choice of tiles.
There are even special cupboards and hardware for cutlery, spices and implements between the floor and wall cabinets. The wasted space at plinth level can be fitted with drawers or even heaters.
Special slim-line appliances offer modern facilities in a reduced space. Cooling and laundry appliances can be stacked and you may even select a double oven that fits under the worktop. A two ring hob will allow extra worktop surface and glazed wall cabinets will give the impression of more space.
Appliance brands also offer fantastic built-in steam ovens, coffee machines and microwaves will leave your worktop clutter free. Some national kitchen manufacturers are even installing flat-screen TVs within wall units to offer you a hi-tech kitchen in a small space!
At one time having a fitted kitchen meant a standard kitchen that looked the same as everyone else’s, furniture consisted of ‘boxes’ which all had exactly the same front. Even appliances were integrated into the design by being concealed behind matching doors.
The choice and quality of fitted kitchens has changed considerably and fitted kitchens are now much more flexible and interesting, allowing designers to be more adventurous, mixing and contrasting for a truly exciting look.
Kitchen manufacturers now encourage the use of different effects by offering a choice of styles and colours that can be mixed and matched to provide an individual style to your kitchen. Different heights are also becoming more popular, with high breakfast bars and lower storage units being incorporated into a design to add yet another element of interest and contrast.
This allows the option of taking one common design and mixing the colours, which is very popular at the moment. For example, you can have contrasting wall and floor units or even mix a number of different colours randomly to create a bold, vivid look. The options are now much more diverse – you can literally choose from hundreds of standard patterns.
Appliances are not necessarily hidden away anymore in the kitchen and you will find that microwaves, ovens, steam ovens, coffee makers, washing machines and fridge freezers are not only designed to be on show, but to stand out and make a statement!
Ovens and microwaves are ultra contemporary and stylish, with simple designs in stainless steel and black. Freestanding range cookers, washing machines and dishwashers are available in a large variety of colours or even patterned, and the fridge freezer has almost become a measure of wealth – the bigger, broader and bolder, considered the better!
Appliances & furniture
The array of different design styles and specifications for the wide range of kitchen appliances, accessories and furniture available today can be bewildering. However, selecting the right products for your kitchen is an essential part of the planning process, which is why we have compiled a helpful list of hints and tips to help guide you through the latest developments.
For advice on everything from new styles and colours to energy saving and safety features, we have comprehensive information on the following:
Energy efficiency is of paramount importance, not only to save money on electricity bills but also to help reduce power station emissions that contribute to global warming. Look for brands with low energy consumption (energy efficiency ratings will be displayed in the showroom). Levels are now as low as 1.05kW/hr on some slim-line models largely because of reduced water consumption. A delay timer can help take advantage of cheap overnight electricity.
Huge inroads have been made into dishwasher water economy in recent years with consumption levels typically being around 18-20 litres for most programmes, down to as little as 11 litres on some slim-line models. A few models use fuzzy logic to determine the level of soiling in the wash, varying the amount of detergent and water accordingly. An economy cycle or half-load button will result in further savings.
A concealed heating element reduces the risk of lightweight plastic items such as children’s drinking cups melting onto it after becoming dislodged mid-cycle. Lime-scale build-up is also prevented. Some manufacturers now produce models with the concealed heating element coiled around the water inlet pipe for further energy efficiency.
Don’t put up with intrusive machine noise in the kitchen. Most dishwashers are now whisper quiet, 45-49dB being typical. You should still be able to watch the television or hold a conversation whilst the machine is operating.
Look for models with adjustable baskets and flexible internal layouts for varying load requirements. For example, a tilting upper basket allows large 30cm diameter plates in the lower basket and extra flaps can be raised or lowered to cater for small items or large pans.
Also, decide on the look you want. The newest freestanding models are clad in contemporary stainless steel as a design statement and to co-ordinate with stainless steel ovens, extractors, hobs and even washing machines. For a totally unobtrusive appliance, choose a fully integrated model with the control knobs situated on the door edge. There is also a trend towards siting built-in dishwashers at waist height for ease of unloading.
Check the capacity. ‘Standard’ 60cm wide dishwashers can take 12, 14 or 16 place settings, whilst slim-line 45cm models may only cater for 7, 8 or 9 place settings. Compact dishwashers tend to be 45 cm wide and can be placed on the worktop or built in, depending on the model. These may take 4, 5 or 6 place settings.
Although most dishwashers are very reliable, a water cut-off feature will give extra peace of mind. It prevents the risk of flooding and machine damage by stopping the water flow and the programme cycle.
Food waste disposers
With today’s busier lifestyles and increasing demands on our time, we are all keen on labour-saving devices that can help us enjoy our leisure time to the full, whilst at the same time creating a clean and hygienic environment in the home.
Installing a food waste disposer is an ideal way to let you spend more time doing the things you want to do around the home and less time worrying about what to do with your messy unwanted food waste. With putrescible waste (kitchen food scraps) accounting for 25% of household waste, using a food waste disposer not only means fewer trips to the wheelie bin but also results in a substantial reduction of waste going to landfill.
Food waste disposers remove waste quickly without the use of knives or blades. The food waste is ground down into fine particles and is then flushed away through the normal waste pipe system. This process can also aid recycling as the waste is transformed into a soil conditioner once at the treatment plant.
Installation of a food waste disposer is straightforward, either in a new or existing kitchen but we would advise you look for brands that simply lock into place. Food waste disposers are also extremely durable and a good quality manufacturer will offer warranties of up to five years.
Style is probably one of the most important considerations – do you want a freestanding or a built-in model? If you want your fridge to stand out as a style statement, choose one of the coloured, retro-style or stainless steel freestanding models. There are even some with designs such as the Manhattan skyline printed on them.Opt for a built-in or integrated style if you’d rather the fridge was an unseen workhorse or space is a problem.
Do you want a fridge/freezer, or a separate freezer and fridge? Extra-wide freestanding cooling appliances are now available as well as the standard 60cm models, whereas built-in appliances tend to be 60cm wide to slot into a standard cupboard width. Configurations and capacities vary enormously with the freezer on the top or the bottom, depending upon preference.
Large side by side American fridge freezers, with the freezer on one side and the fridge on the other, are becoming increasingly popular and can be integrated with decor panels to match kitchen furniture.
By law manufacturers must disclose the energy efficiency of their appliances, rated A to G. These are usually displayed prominently in showrooms. The better the rating, the more energy efficient the appliance is – good for both the environment and your pocket.
A large number of freezers have eliminated defrosting by continually circulating the air inside the freezer compartment, thus avoiding frost build-up—a feature well worth paying a little extra for.
Added features such as ice making and drinks dispensers can all add to the appeal of certain models. Ice making is an option on many American style fridge-freezers, sometimes available without opening the door, as are cold water dispensers. Zoned models offer several storage areas, all at different temperatures, designed to keep a variety of foods fresh for longer. Most manufacturers now offer adjustable shelf heights and storage units which simplify food storage.
No new fridge or fridge/freezer should contain CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) or HFCs (hydroflourocarbons), which have been linked to the “Greenhouse Effect”. However your old fridge may contain them, so please dispose of it thoughtfully. Your local authority should be able to give you some advice and guidelines.
A hob is an essential part of your cooking arsenal. You can do without an oven, but regular cooking, if your hob fails, is very challenging.
Once hobs were merely functional, with a choice between electric and gas, brown and white. Now electric hobs have improved using halogen or the ingenious “induction” method (both have a similar performance to gas). With induction, the metal pan completes the circuit, giving fast heat and prompt switch off when removed. Gas has become better still with lotus shaped burners for a better heat spread.
Hobs are becoming a style point in modern kitchens, and are accordingly available in all colours, materials such as stainless steel and interesting designs. Wide hobs, multi-fuels (electric and gas) and five or six ring burners offer flexibility but consider your usage before choosing – if your kitchen accommodates more than one cook at once, position the hob away from the oven, that way you don’t get in each other’s way.
If you enjoy eastern cuisine, you can buy a speciality hob with a wok burner. Similarly, if you are a BBQ fan, choose a BBQ grill. If you are left handed, go for front rather than right-hand side controls as this eliminates the risk of reaching across the heat. If you cook for a large family, more than four rings may be useful, and if you have young children it may be worth considering paying a little extra for a hob guard or in the case of gas, choosing an automatic re-ignition or cut off device should the flame blow out.
The majority of ovens are fuelled by electricity, because of its superior evenness of temperature, especially a fan assisted electric oven. Traditionally, gas ovens have zoned heat, with the hottest section at the top, the coolest shelf at the bottom, but fan assisted cooking has evened this out. The most popular combination is a gas hob and electric oven.
Decide on the style you require: Single and double built-in ovens can be at eye level for easy grilling and less bending. Some models are combined conventional and microwave ovens. A separate hob is required.
Built-under ovens may be single or double cavity and also need a separate hob. Double cavity ovens are essential if you want to cook one dish and grill another at the same time.
Design and finish are high on most people’s list of priorities. Fashionable stainless steel is here to stay for a while and comes in ultra-modern designs with electronic touch controls or more conventional knobs. Brushed finishes avoid the problem of sticky finger marks. Anthracite, a dark grey, is also emerging as an avant-garde choice. Coloured appliances are popular, from classic racing green, blue and claret (usually traditionally styled, often with brass trim) to pale pastels. White, however, is the enduring favourite.
Keen cooks may want to take advantage of multi-function ovens – usually aimed at the top end of the market. As well as traditional cooking, fan or fan-assisted cooking and grilling, these ovens offer up to nine further functions. These include: Top element only (browning), bottom element (final cooking of pastry dishes or pizzas), fan and bottom element (delicate cooking), fan only (thawing).
The standard 60cm oven has been joined by various other sizes. Now consumers can choose from 60, 70 and 90cm wide built-in single ovens. Always check the internal capacity shown in litres as well as the external dimensions.
Ease of cleaning is well worth considering at the outset. Stay clean liners resist dirt build-up but pyrolytic cleaning is the ultimate. It burns off all baked-on debris at 500°C so that all you have to do is sweep out the resulting ash. Look out for ovens with a steam cleaning facility, too, and remember that some ovens have removable inner doors that are easy to clean.
There are many things to consider before buying a new range cooker and the first is probably how it will fit in with your kitchen layout and design.
Range cookers are perfect for all styles of kitchen and complement both traditional and contemporary furniture, but it is important to choose a model that looks ‘right’. Go for a slightly more classic design if you have a country or period kitchen, feel free to choose something ultra modern if your kitchen is very much 21st century.
What about colour? Again, the cooker needs to be in keeping with your overall kitchen design but it’s worth remembering that stainless steel is still the most popular colour for range cookers. Having said that, gloss black is also tremendously popular and can prove very eye-catching as a kitchen focal point.
Some manufacturers offer hoods in matching styles and colours – again, make sure the hood you go for is in keeping with your kitchen style.
Dual fuel or all electric? Dual fuel is the most common choice, providing the versatility of multi-functional electric cooking and the quick reaction of gas burners. All electric is an excellent option if no mains gas is laid on. However, you may also want to consider LPG – some manufacturers will adapt a range cooker for LPG and this saves you the hassle of arranging this yourself.
What size range cooker should you opt for? Consider your kitchen layout carefully before you make any decisions. Some cookers will protrude whilst others will have the same depth as your kitchen cabinets and this is a matter of personal preference. You also need to check that the cooker can be adjusted to the same height (or slightly higher than) your kitchen cabinets. Sometimes extra high feet are offered, which is useful when you have cabinets of 96cm, for instance.
So many things to consider! Stainless steel? All electric or dual fuel? Only you can decide, with the help of your KBSA-approved appliance retailer.
A sink can be a focal point of the kitchen or an unobtrusive, practical workhorse, depending on its design. A traditional Butler’s sink with brick supports sets the tone for a country kitchen, whilst under-mounted stainless steel bowls allow a worktop to steal the show. Integral sinks made from the same material as the worktop are becoming more popular and can be of stainless steel or a solid surfacing material.
The choice of sink materials is huge. Stainless steel is self-healing, hygienic and co-ordinates with the latest trend in appliances. Fireclay or ceramic sinks are solid and traditional with the latter being available in a core range of colours such as blue and green as well as white.
The popular composite sink materials come in a large range of colours including speckled granite effects.
Manufacturers have given consumers an extensive choice of different bowl configurations, from standard single bowls with drainer to vast double-bowls flanked by two drainers. A half bowl between the main sink and drainer, or forming part of the drainer in compact versions, is a valuable addition for vegetable peelings or rinsing foods. Ensure that your largest pan can fit into the main bowl easily – take it into showrooms if necessary!
Consider which accessories might be beneficial. Many models can be supplied with a draining basket, chopping board and strainer bowls. A drainer extension can be useful for sinks without a drainer where worktop space is limited in a small kitchen.
All sinks will need regular cleaning with a suitable proprietary product. In the past ten years composite materials have improved considerably and now offer excellent impact and stain resistance, even in the paler colours.
A well-designed kitchen does not need to be stuffed full of identical cupboards. Creative designers can use a selection of colours and styles in a single room to produce a kitchen that is both interesting and a delight to work in.
Glass fronts, open shelves and grid hanging systems are all popular alternatives for wall cupboards and pan drawers are a far more efficient way of storing heavy items than a regular base unit. Clever pull out corner units also allow use of dead space in the corners, for pots and pans. In a country-style room, wicker vegetable drawers offer a rustic alternative.
Recent introductions include 900mm wide pan drawers and top-hinged wall cupboards as well as stainless steel panels, plinths and backsplashes. Mid-way units make use of the space between the wall and base units and a hanging rail is an excellent, practical use of this “dead” space.
Under-sink drawers for cleaning solutions and materials are also a clever use of available space.
In larger kitchens, cupboards of varying heights are another clever way to introduce variety into a plan and to separate the room into distinct areas for washing up, food storage and cooking. Many people are opting for the unfitted look, with stand-alone cupboards for food or crockery.
The kitchen mixer tap has become quite a sophisticated appliance, both in terms of design and function. There is an extensive choice of styles and finishes available to suit contemporary or traditional kitchens. You can also choose from dual-flow models for straightforward hot and cold water delivery, tri-flow taps that additionally supply purified water and taps with a pull-out spray rinse.
There are sleek, minimalist style taps to complete the look of contemporary, semi-professional kitchens and there is a wide choice of period reproduction designs – from Victorian to Art Deco – for traditional kitchens.
Because stainless steel is the most popular sink material, there is a range of complementary metallic tap finishes to choose from. Nickel, pewter and silk effects provide alternatives to the high gloss of chrome. Taps in coloured finishes are available to match the colours of composite sink materials.
Dual-flow mixers provide independent hot, cold or mixed water after leaving the end of the spout. They can be deck-mounted on the sink or pillar/bridge-mounted for a more traditional look. Alternatively, choose a monobloc tap, which is a single-hole fitting that usually has two handles for hot and cold water supply, and in the UK is normally dual flow.
Continental-style single lever taps combine the on/off function and temperature adjustment using one lever control: Move the lever up and down for on/off operation and from side-to-side for temperature adjustment. Choose from top lever, side lever or ‘joystick’ designs.
Three-way or tri-flow taps with built-in purification system provide a stylish, convenient and cost-effective alternative to bottled water or a jug filter and complete the fully integrated kitchen. As with all taps, models are available in contemporary, classic or traditional designs and in a range of finishes.
The three-way tap delivers hot and cold water independently or mixed just like a normal kitchen mixer. For purified water in some cases, the centre lever or handle on the tap body is selected, and cold water is diverted to the purification unit which is fitted neatly away under the sink. After purification, the water is channelled through its own waterway inside the tap to deliver purified water at the point-of-use. Alternatives to this delivery system are also available.
If you want a sink with large bowl dimensions to cope with big pan washing-up, it is worth considering a tap with a pull-out or pull-down spray rinse. This gives you water anywhere you need it around the bowl area.
With such a broad spectrum of taps available, it is important to give consideration to the specific requirements to avoid costly mistakes later.
It used to be quite cool to tell people that you only drank bottled water – ‘we don’t drink tap water, we prefer mineral water’ – but whilst it may have been cool, it certainly didn’t keep you cool, humping home huge bottles of water from the supermarket and taking up much of your fridge space, week in week out! Neither is it very economical.
Of course the market for bottled water is still massive, but you might be interested, even surprised to know that one of the largest growing sectors in water consumption at home is in the installation of water filter systems, that provide virtually unlimited quantities of pure water, straight from the mains, through a dedicated tap that provides water, pure and simple.
And vitally, at a fraction of the cost of the bottled stuff!
Very few people buying a new kitchen do so today without the offer of a water filter system as part of the deal. Water filters are taking the UK by storm as the man and woman in the street discover that they can have the luxury of pure, clean-tasting water in their kitchens for far less than the cost of a pint of milk a day! The water filter systems knock the costs associated with bottled water for six. Especially when you have virtually unlimited quantities of the stuff, pouring from a tap in your kitchen!
You can have it chilled from the tap as well and choose either a dedicated tap or a three-way tap that provides your normal hot and cold water and a supply of chilled, filtered water, all from the same tap over your sink in the kitchen. Things are really looking up!
So whilst it won’t exactly be farewell to bottled water or to those ‘fiddly’ filter jugs, the new water filter systems are taking off in a big way and will, we expect, soon be as popular in the UK as they are in the USA and on the continent.
The way they work is very simple. The water filter system is attached to the mains water inlet pipe, close to the rising main and a supply of that water makes its way through the ceramic filter that is attached inside the cupboard under the sink, before making its way through a dedicated tap usually situated by or close to the sink. These water filter systems remove upwards of 95% of impurities and leave you with pleasant tasting, clear water with no nasty smells or cloudy deposits. Whilst most people actually accept gratefully that the tap water in the UK is as safe as a water supply anywhere in the world, filtered water quite simply looks, tastes and smells better! It’s time you found out more!
Around 60 percent of people in the UK live in hard water areas and suffer the problems that go with it – some immediately obvious – scale in the kettle, elements in dishwashers and washing machines scaling up, scum in your tea, limescale marks in toilets and washbasins and showerheads blocking up – others less so but potentially more expensive – boilers and heating systems clogging up with scale – in particular, boiler heat exchangers, hot water cylinders, radiators and connecting pipework.
There are lifestyle problems associated with hard water too of course! Hard water requires more soap, shampoo and detergent to get a decent lather. It tends to leave washing – particularly towels – feeling hard and rough to the touch. It’s not good for hair or skin and it can actually make skin complaints like eczema and psoriasis worse.
So while hard water is not directly harmful – water companies have no legal requirement to soften the water they supply – hard water can take its toll on your plumbing, on your purse and your skin and it means that you could be, quite literally, pouring money down the drain.
Heated hard water forms a scale of calcium minerals (limescale deposits) which can clog up your pipework, reduce the effectiveness of your heating and hot water system, and contribute to the inefficient operation or failure of water-using appliances.
If scale builds up on an element, it has to heat the scale before it heats the water. Just 1.6mm of scale in heating systems causes a 12 per cent loss in heat transfer from the energy source (gas, electricity) to water, in terms of heating efficiency.
Select the thickest worktop you can afford. Thicker worktops are in trend at the moment, with people opting for 50-70mm thicknesses as oppose to the usual 30-40mm thickness.
Worktops in natural materials have also recently increased in popularity, mainly due to their durability and hardwearing qualities but also because consumers are becoming much more environmentally aware.
Also, more unusual materials such as glass and stainless steel are currently very popular in line with the trend for a more contemporary and stylish kitchens.
Wood is also making a comeback in worktops and units, whether that be real wood or laminate.
When choosing a worktop, ask about different brands. Formica is the most readily recognised laminate worktop brand and Corian is the most widely known solid surfacing material, but there are many other brands including Orama, Perstop, Luxore® and Swanstone®.
Comprising of natural quartz, Luxore® is a range of engineered stone, it’s non-porous, consistent in colour and highly resistant to heat and chipping. Swanstone® is a reinforced solid surface material, which offers seamless joints and sinks, it is non-reactive to moisture and requires no fabricated edges.
Bear in mind that fitting a worktop is a skilled job. Most worktops need to be professionally fitted which will add to the overall cost. If you are fitting a laminate worktop yourself, consider the Pro-Joint system from Orama with its pre-shaped ends which simply fit together to form a neat corner joint without the need for mitring or old school jointing strips.
Vibrant colours and designs can add drama to an old kitchen. Look at some of the more avant-garde choices such as gloss laminate or stainless steel for an instant facelift.
Worksurfaces don’t have to run in straight lines. For a more adventurous curved design look to solid surfacing materials which are thermoformable (moulded into different shapes) or a natural material such as granite, slate or stainless steel.
Bear in mind that some materials are easier to clean and maintain than others too. Spills such as bleach or fruit juice need to be removed immediately from laminates and timber, but stains or burns on solid surfacing materials can be gently scrubbed away.
Granite is particularly easy to care for, whilst timber may need regular oiling. Scratches on stainless steel are self-healing and the material is naturally hygienic.
Flooring & lighting
A floor should be comfortable and non-slip as well as good looking. With pets or children in the household, put an emphasis on ease of cleaning and upkeep.
A hard tile floor is tiring to stand on for long periods, whereas a cork, vinyl or carpet tile will absorb some of the impact. Think about under-floor heating for tiled floors where bare feet are a consideration.
Some wooden floors are suitable for the heavy wear a kitchen will attract and there is even a bamboo floor, resistant to damp and humidity.
Remember that flooring installation can sometimes be as expensive as the flooring itself.
Lighting should be a combination of task lights for specific areas and supplementary lighting for overall mood and background light.
A good designer should be able to create zones which can be operated independently, creating different moods. Working areas such as the food preparation surface, hob and sink should all have high wattage independent task lights to illuminate the area without creating a shadow over them.
For low-level background lighting, choose under-cabinet strip lights, plus a light over the table on a dimmer switch to create the right atmosphere for dining by.
Safety & hygiene
Welcome now to the section dedicated to hygiene and safety in the kitchen – we hope that you find the following tips and suggestions useful.
When planning a new kitchen consider ergonomics. Ensure that the sink and hob are fairly close together and not separated by a door or passageway. For comfort in use, a kitchen should be planned for the height of the main user, with worktops at the correct height and the wall cupboards positioned so that they can be reached easily without undue stretching. The “standard” worktop height is 900mm.
Remember to turn saucepan handles away from the edge of the hob.
Storage – Place heavy items such as casserole dishes and small appliances in the base unit cupboards. Lighter items such as glassware or packets can be stored in the wall cupboards. Deep pan drawers with non-slip bases allow crockery to be stored without sliding as the drawer is opened and closed.
Flooring – Choose non-slip materials and always wipe up spills immediately. Water-resistant floors will not warp or crack. Remember that tiles can be quite tiring to stand on for long periods as they have no flex.
Using a dishwasher is generally far more hygienic than washing up by hand as it operates at higher temperatures and dries by steam rather than a tea-towel which can harbour bacteria.
Good extraction will reduce odours, steam and particularly grease from cooking.
Avoid dirt traps where crumbs and spillages can gather – well-sealed worktop joins, sinks and worktops in one seamless material, easy-clean door knobs and fitted furniture will all help.
Store all cutting objects in one place, inaccessible to children.
Low-level ovens with a low surface temperature during operation, due to triple-glazing or a cooling system, will prevent children accidentally burning themselves should they touch the cooker while in use. Gas hobs should have a flame failure device which cuts off the supply if the flame is accidentally extinguished.
Unplug electrical appliances such as blenders and electric knives when not in use.
Small appliances should have flexes shortened or replaced with the curly type to prevent children accidentally pulling on any flex which might overhang the worktop.
Never put bleaches or solvent cleaners in pop bottles (to avoid the risk of poisoning).
Ensure your kitchen is equipped with fire fighting equipment and that you have smoke detectors fitted and that they are functional.
Store matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
Fit child locks on any drawers and doors containing chemicals, knives or other potentially dangerous objects.