Getting it right in your kitchen design is important so you create a space that’s functional and feels great.
Mistakes can be expensive to rectify, and so avoiding them is worthwhile! Learn more with these top tips.
Many renovation projects get started because the kitchen needs updating and upgrading.
And in a new build, the kitchen is often a big area of focus too.
Kitchens are what I call a ‘cost intensive’ area of your project. With joinery, appliances, fixtures, benchtops, splashbacks and lighting, they can absorb a lot of your project budget.
Here’s 3 tips for your kitchen design.
#1 Your kitchen probably doesn’t need to be as big as you think it does
Kitchens have really grown and grown over the past decade or so, and they’re seen as an expression of luxury in a project (which is strange given it’s such a functional zone – you’d think luxury would actually mean not having a kitchen, and having someone else making your meals everyday!)
I recall doing kitchens in multi-million dollar homes about 15 years ago. They didn’t have butler’s pantries, and a 2.7m island was really generous.
If you’re struggling with stretching your budget, or getting your floor plan to fit the kitchen you’re dreaming of, please know a compact kitchen can be super functional, and look great too. (I’ve got this blog on how to design a compact kitchen >>> How to Design a Small Kitchen)
Be intentional with what you’ll be storing in your kitchen, and how you use your kitchen. Design cupboard and drawer space to meet your identified needs. Don’t create space for space’s sake.
An appliance cupboard can be a good alternative to a full butlers’ pantry. Pantry depth works best at 300mm (not 600mm).
#2 Benchtops are changing in kitchen design
Reconstituted stone has been THE benchtop material of choice for a long time in Australia.
I remember, when travelling to the USA a few years ago, how surprising it was to discover that natural stone benchtops were similarly priced to reconstituted stone – because here, reconstituted stone has really cornered the market as ‘the’ durable benchtop choice.
However, with changes to the required work practices in the industry, problem with safe cutting of the material, plus potential bans being discussed, many are considering what alternatives are available. The good news is there are a lot.
- Metal benchtop options include stainless steel and also Zinc – in fact Joost Bakker used Zinc in the Future Food Systems project at Fed Square.
- Timber has been a tried and tested option, with alternatives such as bamboo.
- There’s also materials such as polished concrete often being used now, plus compact products such as Dekton.
- And you can also check out recycled glass benchtop, such as Betta Stone, or PaperRock, both of which are great, sustainable choices.
- I’ve seen some great tiled benchtops too, and large format porcelain is also a lovely option.
Your benchtop will be a big investment, and it’s also the ‘coalface’ of punishment in your kitchen. If you want to put hot things on it, you cook with spices like turmeric, these things will factor into your choice.
So, get a big sample and test it. Put some substances on it (like soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, turmeric, coca cola, coffee, red wine) and leave them for a while – even 24 hours. Test how well they clean off.
#3 Choose function over fashion in your kitchen design
I’ve seen kitchens that look beautiful, and yet they’d be so frustrating to work in, cook in, and share with others during peak times in your home.
Some things to consider:
- Don’t exceed 1,200mm between the island and back bench, as it gets awkward to navigate
- Consider grime, dust and how easily you’ll clean things like open shelving, exposed rangehoods, and exposed tops of cupboards
- Think about how you cook, store food, wash up and prep meals. Don’t tuck things away in hard-to-reach areas simply to hide them from guests so the kitchen looks ‘presentable’, because the lack of convenience and accessibility will frustrate you in your everyday use
- Keep the island free of services if possible, so it acts as a fantastic prep space, and is multi-functional as a casual dining, homework, and gathering zone
- If you end up with corner joinery, design it well, so you don’t end up with frustrating dump zones in your below-bench storage
Lastly – my biggest tip is this:
Design your kitchen at a detail level at the start of your design phase.
Some of the biggest problems I see with kitchen design is because a floor plan has been done without true consideration of the kitchen itself. It’s simply had a space ‘allocated’ for the kitchen, without much thought about how the kitchen will fit. Because then you can find, you won’t fit the kitchen layout you want, or get a kitchen design to work in your floor plan.
Make early decisions about the general layout you’d prefer, the types of appliances, and even things like whether you’d like a wall oven or under-bench oven (because they generate different situations with bench-space and full height cupboard arrangements).
My Kitchen Design Challenge is a great little mini-course that shares loads of tips, mistakes to avoid, and layout how-to’s.
I’ve seen (and experienced first hand) just how transformative it is for family life to have a kitchen that you enjoy being in, and that works well for you and your family.
Kitchens come in so many different shapes and sizes – so take the time to think carefully about what you want for your kitchen.
One tip I gave a member of my online program is to travel with a tape measure, so when you see a kitchen you like (in another house or display) you can measure exactly how its been sized and designed.
If anyone looks weirdly at you …
Just tell them Undercover Architect told you to do it 😉
If you’d like to get started on your renovation or new build project, my Get Started Guide is a fantastic resource to help you do just that.
It will teach you the first steps any project needs to take, whatever your dreams, location or budget, and whoever you’re working with. Learn more about it here >>> GET STARTED GUIDE
And, if you’d especially like to get started on your home design, then the mini-course ‘Happy Home Design’ will help you.
You’ll learn more about what decisions really matter in happy home design, and how you can design a home that is functional, fantastic and feel-good >>> HAPPY HOME DESIGN