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The Ultimate Guide to Designing Your Kitchen

Thinking of getting a new kitchen?

Installing a new kitchen can be an exciting time, but without careful thought and planning that excitement can turn into stress and disappointment.

So, our designers are sharing their expert advice to help you achieve the kitchen of your dreams in 8 steps.

Whether you’re using our bespoke design and installation services, or fitting freestanding units yourself, this ultimate guide to designing your kitchen will help you avoid mistakes and achieve the best kitchen for your space, budget and lifestyle.

Step 1 – Write your wish list

The first stage in planning your dream kitchen is to write a wish list. This should include everything you want from your kitchen. But don’t start off with the fine detail. This isn’t about the colour you want, or what cooker you fancy – that comes later.

Questions to ask yourself

Start off by thinking about how you want to use the kitchen – because kitchens aren’t just for cooking. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Which family members will use the kitchen?
  • What will they do in there? Cooking, playing, gaming, chatting, dining, laundry, working, studying?
  • How often do you cook a meal?
  • What type of cooking do you tend to do?
  • Does anyone in the family need adaptations to access the kitchen easily?
  • How many people will use the kitchen at the same time?
  • Will you entertain in there? Adults only or children as well?
  • How much stuff do you need to store in the kitchen?
  • Will the kitchen be home to any pets?
  • What do you like and dislike about being in your current kitchen?

Once you’ve answered these questions you can start to work out what you need to have in your kitchen. It will also inform decisions about your ideal layout, to balance flow and functionality.

Take inspiration from friends and family

Now’s a great time to invite yourself round for a cuppa so you can take a proper look at your friends’ and family’s kitchens. See what you like and don’t like (probably better not to share the latter with the homeowner!). Ask them how they use the kitchen, what works for them and what they’d do differently next time.

If you like the quality and finish of the kitchen then ask them where they got it from and whether they’d recommend that supplier.

Appliances

The appliances you need will, to some extent, dictate the layout of your kitchen.

Make a list of all the appliances you’d like to have, then compare this to what’s already on your wish list. Do these appliances match the way you want to use your kitchen? Or are you adding appliances to the list that you might never need?

Some sage words of advice from our founder, Vince:

On the one hand it’s important to have what you want in your new kitchen but also try to be realistic. For example, we have found a lot of clients liking the idea of having built in steam ovens and then not using them. Generally, we find that if you steam your food now then you are likely to use a steam oven, but if you don’t then you’re unlikely to start. So, you’ll just end up wasting money and space on an unused appliance.

Storage

Considering your storage needs means starting with what you need to store.

Which areas of your current kitchen are bursting to the seams? And which have ample space? This will give you a clue about where your current storage is letting you down.

Are you intending to purchase new appliances or equipment for your kitchen? Or use it in a different way – perhaps adding a dining area where you’ll want easy access to tableware?

If you have children or pets, will they need to store things in your kitchen? This could be anything from dog food to mobile phones chargers!

And are there some things you’d rather have hidden away and some which you’d like to have on display?

You might find it useful to make a list of the items you need to store in your kitchen, so you can make sure that everything will have its proper place in your new design.

Style

It might seem odd that ‘style’ is the last thing to add to your wish list, but it really is the last thing we think about in the design process. Flow and functionality are critical to your enjoyment of your new kitchen, the style and colour scheme are the icing on the cake.

You should always approach a new kitchen design with an open mind, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start with a few ideas about how you’d like your new room to look.

Home lifestyle magazines are a useful starting point to get a feel for the styles you do and don’t like, though remember that if you’re looking at a country kitchen in a rural cottage it might not suit your city-centre townhouse! But that doesn’t mean that you can’t take inspiration from elements of the design, just keep in mind that your kitchen will work best if it blends with its surroundings.

Take some time to look around your own home, too. Looking at your current rooms with fresh eyes will help you consider what style decisions you’ve made in the past and which still work for you. Unless you’re really into eclectic styles, your kitchen should harmonise with the rest of your home.

Step 2 – Decide on your budget

Ultimately, you only have so much money available to spend on your kitchen, but this is an important investment, so it’s worth making sure you get the best possible quality you can afford.

There are three basic ways of buying your kitchen:

1. Low cost DIY kitchens

You can purchase freestanding or fitted kitchens from many retailers for self-installation. They will generally come with good fitting instructions and some retailers may also provide online videos to help you figure out the tricky bits.

If you’re working to a low budget and are quite handy at DIY (or know someone who is!) this could be a good option. But keep in mind that you might still need professional services to help with things like plumbing and electrics.

2. Prefabricated mid-range kitchens

These kitchens will be “off the shelf” items which professionals will design and install. Many are of good quality and give you a degree of design flexibility. Even if the company impresses you with the designs, make sure their installation service will be of the same quality – a bad fitter can ruin and otherwise great kitchen.

3. Bespoke kitchens

This option is the most expensive, but if your budget will stretch to it, then a bespoke design will ensure you get exactly the kitchen you want. You should expect to receive an expert design service with complete flexibility to create your perfect room. The cabinets will all be handmade and installed by the same company that designed your kitchen, so they can ensure quality throughout the process.

Contingency budget

Whatever your budget will stretch to, you should also have a contingency budget to cover unexpected costs. When you start to install a new kitchen there are no end of possible issues which can occur, from structural problems to wiring and plumbing trouble.

On a more positive note, a contingency budget also allows for any good ideas that crop up during the design process. For example, you might not have thought about having a boiling water tap (such as a Quooker tap), but, when you try one out, you may realise that this is a convenience you can’t live without!

We’d suggest that you should have an additional 10% set aside as a contingency, otherwise you run the risk of work grinding to a halt should a problem occur or missing out on including that great idea.

Step 3 – Find the right supplier

Whether you’re intending to work with an expert design team like ours, or source and install your kitchen yourself, it’s essential to find a quality and reliable supplier.

Reviews on third party websites such as Google, Facebook or Trustpilot can give you a steer, but it’s also good to see if you can find someone you know who has used the company.

Remember, even if you are buying a top quality bespoke kitchen, the single most important thing is the technical and installation expertise. So, make sure your supplier has a lot of good reviews!

– Vince Hone

Questions to ask

We recommend asking these questions of any supplier you’re intending to work with:

  • Where are you based? It’s important to know if they have a local team for any after sales assistance.
  • What warranties do they offer? Even the most basic off-the-shelf kitchen cabinets and worktops should last for at least 5 years, so the supplier should be willing to guarantee this. You also need to check the warranties for any appliances as these will be separate.
  • What materials do they use? Check that the materials will be hardwearing enough to withstand day to day life.
  • What kitchens have they done previously? They should be able to show you examples of their work, or their products fitted in real kitchens, and if appropriate put you in touch with a previous customer as a referee.
  • What questions do they ask you? They should be interested in how you’ll use the kitchen, rather than just asking you which door handles you’d like!
  • If you’re planning the kitchen yourself, you need to ask what cabinet sizes they supply. Most will either supply the industry standard sizes or be able to adapt them to your exact requirements – but some will have their own standard sizes, so you need to check what these are as they will impact your scale plans.

Visit them

Assuming that you can, then you should always visit the supplier to see the sort of thing you’ll be purchasing. A kitchen is a big investment that you’ll be living with for years, so don’t trust it to an online-only company – go and see the products, open the drawers, test the cooker, chat to the designers.

Our showroom in Sevenoaks

This will give you a far more realistic view of what your kitchen will ultimately look like than you’ll achieve from a brochure or website.

Other services

In addition to your kitchen designer, you may also need other tradesmen to complete your job, including builders, electricians and plumbers.

Many kitchen designers will project manage these trades as part of their installation service, saving you time and hassle.

Whichever way it’s managed, you must ensure that everyone involved has the appropriate qualifications and meets legal requirements – for example to be Gas Safe registered (which used to be known as CORGI) if carrying out any work on your gas supply.

Step 4 – Design decisions

This is where the real work begins!

You and your supplier need to work together to ensure that you create a kitchen which perfectly suits you and your family’s needs and does so within budget.

So, the first thing to do, is to talk them through all the answers to the questions you asked yourself in step 1. This will give you a good starting point.

Unless you’re installing the kitchen yourself, the designer should come to your home to see the space for themselves. This will allow them to measure up and identify any potential issues they’ll have to work with, such as sloping floors, uneven walls, pillars and access points.

Then you will need to start making the design decisions.

Layout

There are many different options for laying out a kitchen and yours needs to be designed so it works perfectly for the way you’ll use the room.

Cabinets

Start with the cabinets (including the one to contain your sink) – they’ll create a shape and framework for your kitchen, so you need to get this right before starting to think about what colour to paint them or where the lights are going to go.

Traditional cabinet layouts include open plan, galley and U-shaped kitchens. You might want to incorporate an island or breakfast bar. If the room’s small it might just be used as a kitchen, but, if it’s larger, you might want to create different areas for cooking, eating and entertaining.

Consider carefully where each cabinet will go and what will be around it. Will the cabinet door be easy to open? Can you still move around the kitchen when it’s open? Is the kitchen door going to swing open and dent something? Would a tambour door help you fit more storage into the room? Will you be able to reach to open the window?

Don’t forget that one of the cabinets will contain your kitchen sink, so where should this go? It’s always useful for this to be under a window for natural light, but if you don’t have a window (or this doesn’t suit your needs) then you can put it anywhere…just be mindful of the additional costs of moving pipework to reposition a sink.

Make the most of your space

If you have a utility room, then you might want to reassess your use of this when thinking about the layout for your new kitchen. Perhaps there’s space in there for appliances that are currently in your kitchen? In fact, this could be a good opportunity to redesign both rooms at the same time!

You might find that your desired layout requires structural changes. If you’re working with a designer, they should be able to advise you about possible planning permission requirements. This is where that contingency budget might come in handy!

Once you have the basic layout for your cabinets agreed, you can start to think about your appliances and fixtures.

Appliances

You need to work out what appliances you want and where they will go – and possibly adapt your plans for the cabinets to make it work just right.

Kitchen triangles

You’ve probably heard of creating a triangle between your main appliances, and this is still a useful starting point for designing your kitchen (though don’t feel restricted by it if it doesn’t work for the way you want to use the room).

This kitchen has a classic triangle arrangement

The principle of the kitchen triangle is that your fridge, sink and hob should be positioned so, if you draw straight lines between them, they would form a triangle. The points of the triangle should be close enough together that you can move between them without effort, but far enough apart that you don’t feel cramped when cooking.

When creating your triangle, it’s often useful to position the fridge first. It should be easy to access without walking through the whole kitchen, so other members of the household can get to it without interrupting the cook. Then consider where your sink is (as it’s easier to not to move this) and complete the triangle by positioning the hob.

But don’t be a slave to the kitchen triangle. It’s a method of laying out kitchens that’s been around since the 40s, so it’s not necessarily right for every modern-day kitchen and open plan designs.

Choosing appliances

Your choice of appliances goes hand in hand with the layout of the kitchen. If you want an open plan kitchen with a central island to cook at, then you may require a hob top extractor system (such as BORA) to avoid the visual and noise impact of an overhead extractor. If you have a large family, then you may need two fridge freezers to ensure you have ample capacity.

Explore the different appliances you could include in each part of your kitchen. If you have an area for dining and entertaining, you might want to install a wine conditioner. If your new kitchen is going to be designed to give you a fabulous space to indulge your love of baking, then a proving drawer would be a great addition.

Armed with your wish list to show them how you want to use your kitchen, a kitchen designer will be able to recommend the best appliance models to make your kitchen work for you.

Integrated or standalone

For each appliance you need to decide whether it should be integrated into the kitchen cabinetry (so it’s effectively invisible) or standalone. For example, in a traditional-style kitchen, you might want to hide your dishwasher in the cabinets but have a standalone range cooker which will add to the country feel of the room.

Smaller appliances

You should also consider where your smaller appliances will go, such as toasters, kettles and food processors. Even if you’re intending to store them in cupboards or drawers when they’re not in use, you should still plan which part of the kitchen you’ll use them in. And make sure you have plenty of workspace and power points in that area.

Space and services required

Pay special attention to the installation depths and ventilation requirements for your appliances. Make a note of these, ready for drawing up the plan for your kitchen

You should also consider the service connections required for the appliances. It’s relatively straight forward to add electric power points where you need them, but moving water pipes for your dishwasher, or gas pipes for your hob, could significantly increase your costs.

Worktop space

Rather than just being left as the “space between cupboards and appliances” your worksurfaces should be considered as carefully as the rest of your kitchen design.

Now you know where you want your main appliances to be situated, consider how you’ll use them and what working space you’ll need around them. For example, you will probably want space either side of your hob for hot pans or plating up. You might also want space by the sink or dishwasher to stack dirty dishes, or perhaps include a double sink so dirty plates can be ‘hidden’ in one of them.

Taps

The tap is the single most used appliance in any kitchen, so it deserves a special mention.

Many people skimp on taps, but this can be a false economy. A quality tap will last for years without dripping or leaking.

The Quooker Fusion black boiling water tap

A boiling water tap is the ultimate choice for convenience as it allows you to do away with the need to have a kettle cluttering up your work surfaces. We recommend the Quooker brand of taps. These supply normal tap water, 100°C boiling water, chilled water and even carbonated water, all out of a single tap.

Storage

You already know what you want to store, thanks to your wish list, so now it’s time to work out what goes where.

Pantries/larders

If you have the space, then why not install a walk-in pantry? A well-designed pantry can give you a huge amount of storage space, with everything easily accessible on open shelves. They can also double up as a home for large household items such as ironing boards or hoovers.

If your space doesn’t quite stretch to a walk-in pantry, then a pantry cupboard is the next best thing. These are designed to store dry food and usually consist of a large double-doored cupboard with shelving in the cabinet and on the inside of the doors, plus additional shelves or drawers below for storing fruit, vegetables and bread. Some also include a marble larder shelf for storing eggs and butter.

Cabinets

When considering your cabinets from a storage point of view, there are various heights and widths available. Obviously, you’re constrained by the size of your kitchen, but there are endless combinations of full height, under worktop and wall cabinets you can fit. Clever design will maximise your storage space without limiting your worksurface space.

Storage within cabinets

Within the cabinets there are plenty of options to get the most from every inch of space. Corner cabinets are more useful with moving shelving which will slide out and give you easy access to the items at the furthest part of the cupboard.

Moving shelving isn’t just the domain of corner cupboards. If you like the idea of drawers but prefer the look of cupboards, then you can have pull out drawers installed in your cabinets.

You can also fix racks on the inside of your cabinet doors, for example to store cling film or spices. Just make sure you don’t put too much weight onto the door as this could damage the hinges over time.

Shelves

Open shelves are a great way to display your favourite kitchenware and make it that little bit easier to grab, particularly if you’re halfway through cooking and your hands aren’t clean!

The downside is that the items on the shelves will be collecting the dust and grease from your kitchen. So, you might want to consider minimising your open shelving (and installing a BORA extractor to keep any cooking grease out of the air) and use glazed cabinets to display your prized possessions in a dust-free environment.

Drawer storage

Drawers can be constructed to store pretty much anything in your kitchen. Inserts, pegs or dividers can create bespoke compartments for cutlery, crockery, glassware…pretty much anything you can imagine!

Small compartments are useful for organising utensils so they’re always easy to find.

 

Pegs can be used to keep crockery safely separated and neatly arranged.

Double drawers are deep drawers that have a shallower drawer hidden in them, so you could store pans in the deeper part, while your cooking utensils are in the shallower upper drawer. This can be useful if you want to keep the drawer fronts all the same size but need a shallow drawer for cutlery or tea towels.

Narrow, vertical drawers can be a useful solution to provide extra storage in an awkward space.

Lower quality kitchens tend to use “system drawers” which normally have thin metal sides with a chipboard base. If you’re using these drawers you should check the weight they can bear, particularly if you intend to use them to store heavy items such as casserole pots.

Higher quality drawers are will be constructed from hardwood such as oak with dovetail joints front and back. These are normally fitted with a heavy-duty soft closing runner with a weight loading of between 40 and 70kg.

Worktop storage

Storage can also sit on your countertop. So, if you’re intending to have a knife block/rack, bread bin, utensil pot or fruit bowl, then you won’t need cupboard storage for these items.

On the other hand, if you prefer your worksurfaces to be as uncluttered as possible, then all these things will need a place to go out of sight.

Decorative storage

You can also make a feature of your storage, for example using hanging planters to grow herbs, displaying wine bottles in attractive wall-mounted racks or installing an old-fashioned ceiling-hung pot rack.

Lighting

Now you know how you’re going to use your kitchen and where everything will be located, it’s time to think about lighting. Good lighting can make a huge difference to how easy it is to use and enjoy your kitchen, so it’s an important part of your design.

There are three types of lighting to consider:

Ambient lighting

This generally refers to your ceiling and wall lights – the lights which illuminate larger parts of your kitchen. This can include recessed lights, pendant lights and wall sconces. You could choose a bright white light, which might suit a more contemporary kitchen, or a more yellow light for a cosier feel. Consider including dimmer switches if you’re using your kitchen for entertaining, so you can create a more intimate ambience.

Task lighting

This is essential lighting for the parts of the kitchen where you’ll be working. You need to ensure that your hob, sink and worktops are well lit so you can see what you’re doing clearly at any time of day. Task lighting often means under cabinet lights, but ceiling spotlights can also be useful task lighting.

More about kitchen worktop lighting.

Accent lighting

This is lighting to illuminate smaller areas, either to be useful or to create a pleasing effect. For example, this could be lighting within cabinets or colourful strip lighting under the worktop or around the base of an island.

Planning your lighting

When planning the lighting you should consider which lights you want to use independently, to ensure they have their own circuit and switch. You might also want to have more than one switch for a particular light. For example, in a large, open plan kitchen you may wish to turn the main lights on and off from two different doorways.

Smart lighting is becoming more and more popular, so creating your new kitchen could be a great excuse to incorporate lighting controlled by your phone or TV.

Lighting doesn’t just mean electrical lighting; natural light is also very important. Having a new kitchen fitted is an ideal opportunity to consider whether you need more or larger windows to bring extra light into the room.

You might want to replace your French doors with wider, bi-fold doors so you can extend the space into the garden, though remember that this will reduce the wall space available for storage units.

A modern family kitchen with flat doored cabinets

Adding windows into your roof, or even a roof lantern, is another great way of bringing more light into a flat roofed room.

Power points

Now you know your choice of appliances and where you’ll use them, it’s time to work out where you need power points.

There are many different ways to incorporate power sockets into your kitchen

  • Standard position just above the skirting board – good for standalone appliances such as fridges and occasional use for hoovers or Christmas trees.
  • On the wall behind the countertops – perfect for smaller appliances such as your toaster or kettle.
  • Under cabinets – if you prefer not to have wall sockets above the countertops then you can fit them underneath the wall cabinets instead.
  • In cabinet sockets – these can be handy for charging mobile phones or other devices without cluttering up the worktops.
  • Pop up sockets – these are towers of sockets which are usually hidden in your worktop or a kitchen island. They pop up when pressed to give you access to power for your appliances.
  • Floor sockets – while more often found in offices, these can be useful additions to your kitchen plan if you have a large area with furniture in the centre of a space. For example, to provide an outlet underneath your dining table.

Worktop sockets can be covered when not in use for safety and ease of cleaning.


A pop up tower socket can provide easy access to power for the whole family.

In addition to power points you might also want to consider whether you need phone, TV aerial or USB sockets in your kitchen.

The general rule of thumb is that you can never have too many sockets. So, work out how many you need for all your appliances, then double it!

Sound

If you enjoy music or listening to the radio when you’re cooking, consider incorporating speakers into your kitchen design. If you install Bluetooth enabled speakers then you can connect them to your phone or music device. You could even connect a voice-controlled device such as Alexa – perfect for changing the song when your hands are messy!

The type of hob extractor system you choose also has an impact on the sound in your kitchen. An overhead extractor can be very noisy – not ideal if you’re trying to hold a conversation when cooking or if someone in the room is watching television. A hob or worktop-based extraction system, such as BORA, would solve this problem.

Cabinet style and colour

If you’re not exhausted from all the decision making so far, now’s the time to think about the style and colour scheme for your kitchen!

You already started to think about the style for your kitchen when you created your wish list, so now’s the time to review this and assess whether your initial thoughts will work with the kitchen you’re now planning.

If you’re working with a kitchen designer they should, by now, have a good understanding of what you’re looking for and what will suit the location and layout of your kitchen. They should be able to show you a range of cabinetry options to match your requirements.

Cabinet types

There are two basic types of kitchen cabinet to choose from. Lay-on cabinets are assembled so that the door or drawer face fits onto the front of the cabinet, so you don’t see the carcass of the cabinet until you open it.

A close up of a lay-on kitchen cabinet showing the hidden Blum hinges

This gives a more streamlined, modern appearance:

With in-frame cabinets the door or drawer faces have a visible frame around them, which is often used for a more traditional look:

And not all cabinets have to have squared corners! Curved cabinets can a distinctive look to a breakfast bar or kitchen island.

Cabinet doors and drawer fronts

Doors and drawer fronts come in many different styles, ranging from the ultra-modern handleless flat (or slab) doors to more traditional shaker-style doors – and there are plenty of options in between! If you are having handles, then your choice can subtly influence the feel of your kitchen, for example by using bar handles to give a traditionally styled kitchen a contemporary twist.

Cabinet finishes

There is an endless range of finishes you can apply to your cabinets. For example, a natural timber appearance, glossy veneer, painted, high gloss acrylic finishes or mirrored effect.

Your colour scheme could be subdued, metallic, pastel, bright or eclectic.

By this point in the process you should have a good idea of the colour and finish you’re looking for. Your kitchen designer can help you narrow this down to a specific choice.

Get inspired

Take a look at a few of our kitchen designs for inspiration:

Worktop style

By now you’ll know where you want your worksurfaces to be, whether they’ll have taps or power points within them and the style of cabinets they need to suit.

There are a wide range of materials available to create kitchen worktops. You should always select the best quality, hardest wearing option that you can afford, as the kitchen worktop is one of the most roughly treated parts of your home!

Natural worktops

Natural materials such as wood and stone look wonderful in kitchens. A stone worksurface should be well sealed to ensure that the stone doesn’t absorb any stains or smells.

A beautiful dark marble worktop.

Wood is another naturally attractive option. However, a wooden worksurface requires regular maintenance to keep it sealed and in top condition, so bear this in mind.

Composite worktops

Composite worksurfaces, such as Corian, have a fabulous finish while being harder wearing than natural materials.

A Corian worktop.

Polished concrete or natural mortar finishes can create a really modern feel (think industrial chic) and be coloured to perfectly match your needs. For the serious cook, a stainless steel worktop could be the perfect solution.

Laminate worktops

Laminate worksurfaces are a great choice if your budget is limited. They are available in a wide range of styles, often mimicking natural materials. They’re easy to look after, although not as hardwearing as some of the more expensive options.

Furniture

You also need to consider what other furniture you might want in the room, to ensure you can source the right items to fit with your design and budget.

This might include:

  • A dining table and chairs.
  • Stools for a kitchen island or breakfast bar.
  • A sofa, if it’s an open plan area with a zone for relaxing.
  • TV, games console and any other entertainment equipment.

Kitchen with flat cabinet doors finished in natural wood

Walls and floors

Splashbacks

When thinking about your walls you should first identify any areas where cooking will take place or water could be splashed. Ensure that the walls in these parts of the kitchens are protected by splashbacks or tiling.

You can get really creative here! If you’re having tiles, then why not get a few custom-made featuring illustrations which are personal to your family? If you’re having a splashback, then consider the material you’ll use; it could be glass, mirrored, stainless steel or wood veneer. Or, if you have a favourite photo, then you could even have that turned into a splashback!

The wooden splashback by Sally Weekes adds a unique touch to this kitchen.

Colour choices

As you’ve already decided on the colour scheme for your cabinets, the colours to use on your walls and floors should be an easier choice. You might want your walls to present a sedate background for the brighter colours of the kitchen cabinets. Or maybe you’ll use a boldly coloured splashback to bring an element of fun to a more neutral scheme.

Sink view of our new kitchen for the Cain family in Hayes

Flooring

Your kitchen floor needs to be hardwearing and resistant to all sorts of things being dropped on it.

Vinyl or rubber flooring

Rubber or vinyl flooring is a popular and cost-effective choice. Vinyl, in particular, is available in a wide range of designs.

While hardwearing, some vinyl and rubber floors will stain quite easily and, if you drop a sharp knife on them, they might not withstand it.

Ceramic or stone tiles

Ceramic or stone tiles are a wonderfully hardwearing choice for a kitchen. While there is a risk of cracking if something heavy is dropped on them, they will brush off most kitchen accidents with ease.

It’s important to check the care requirements of your floor, particularly for natural stone, as you might find the upkeep is more onerous than you expect.

Wooden flooring

If you would like a wooden floor, we’d recommend using engineered wood which is designed for use in kitchens.

On the top of engineered wood is a thin layer of natural wood and beneath it are layers of softwood or fibre board. These lower layers can be constructed to be resistant to humidity and moisture, and therefore make a good choice for kitchen floors. And, at the budget end of the market, are wood-effect laminate floors.

Ultra-modern flooring

If you’re aiming for an ultra-modern look then you could also consider a polished concrete or resin floor.

Window dressings

Last, but not least, you should give your windows some attention.

Curtains

If you want to have curtains, you must be very careful that they won’t come into contact with an open flame. And you should be prepared to wash them fairly often!

Blinds

Blinds are an attractive and more practical option for a kitchen, as they can be moved up and out of the way while the kitchen is in use, then pulled down at night.

Shutters

Being easy to clean, shutters are another good choice for a kitchen, and are available in both traditional and more contemporary styles.

Frosted glass

If you’d prefer not to have any adornments around the window, but would still like some privacy, you could switch the glazing to frosted glass.

A cheaper alternative is to apply frosted film to the lower part of the window. There are lots of different designs available to blend in with your overall kitchen style, so you might find this a more pleasing solution than changing the glazing.

Step 5 – Draw up a plan

Planning structural changes

Working with a structural engineer

If you’re making structural alterations internally then you will need a structural engineer to design supporting beam sizes etc. They will also lodge building control documents on your behalf and to give your builder clear instructions.

Using a structural engineer will also ensure that everything is conducted and documented according to regulations, which could be important for the future sale of your home.

Planning permission

Depending on the nature of your house and the changes you’re intending to make, you may require planning permission. Usually this won’t apply if you’re only making internal changes, unless you live in a listed property, but you can always call your local planning authority to check.

Assuming they say you can go ahead with the changes without planning permission, you might want to request a Lawful Development Certificate from them as evidence that the changes did not require planning permission. While this can mean quite a bit of admin and paying a fee, it can be useful to have it when you eventually come to sell your house.

Putting pencil to paper (or mouse to mousepad)

This brings together all your design decisions into a final plan.

If you’re using a kitchen designer

Ideally your kitchen designer should provide a 3D drawing of your kitchen so you can experience it for yourself before you commit to the design. This should include a floor plan and a plan for each wall in the room (and potentially the ceiling if you’re installing new lighting).

Your designer should show you all the materials which will be used in the room before you agree to them.

It’s always important to consider advice from your kitchen designer. They have years of experience and, if they’ve listened properly to your needs, they should be able to design the kitchen of your dreams. Question anything you’re unsure about and, obviously, you should never accept a design you’re fundamentally unhappy with. But keep an open mind throughout the process and you’ll ultimately end up with a better kitchen because of it.

– Vince Hone

If you’re designing it yourself

If you’re designing the room yourself then many suppliers offer online planning tools to allow you to fit their products to your space. Alternatively, there’s always good old fashioned pencil and paper!

Your drawing should always be to scale and you should take measurements carefully including doorways, windows, floor space, pillars and niches. Don’t forget the old adage “measure twice, cut once”. Millimetres is the standard measurement used for kitchens, so you should create your plan to this scale.

When drawing your plan don’t forget to include things like space for doors to open, fitting around pipes and having enough room to move around. If you have an open plan design then you should consider creating ‘zones’ within the kitchen for different uses, such as cooking, dining and relaxing zones.

Hopefully you remembered to ask your supplier what dimension cabinets they have – if you forgot then make sure you check before committing to a design, just in case they provide non-standard sizes. The most common cabinet sizes are 600mm and 800mm wide, though 300mm, 400mm, 500mm are often available too. If it’s a bespoke kitchen then you can dictate the size for each cabinet.

And keep in mind the space you need for appliances and any services such as water, gas and vents.

Ensure that every detail of your kitchen is on the plan. This includes the location of all lights, power sockets and fitted appliances. Add notes of explanation where required.

Agreeing the installation process

How complex this is really depends on how much you’re doing yourself and the extent of the work.

At minimum, if you’re managing it yourself, you’re likely to need to co-ordinate deliveries and a couple of tradespeople. So, make sure you book these well in advance and confirm with everyone a day or two beforehand.

If you’re using a kitchen designer, they should be able to co-ordinate and manage the activity for you. This can take a lot of work and hassle off your plate.

However, you’ll still need to ask some important questions so you can prepare yourself for the build, including:

  • On what days they expect the work to start and finish.
  • The hours they’ll work each day.
  • Anything they need you to do to prepare for the work to start. For example, do they expect you to move everything out of the current kitchen or will they do this for you.
  • Whether they are removing your existing kitchen and, if they are, how they will dispose of it (for example, will you need to have a skip on your drive).
  • If you’re having extensive building work done at the same time, whether it would be easier for you to move out for the duration.
  • What the communications process will be and how any issues/changes will be managed – this is particularly important if you’re not going to be at home while the work is being done.

Step 6 – Install your kitchen

Before any work starts you should ensure that you’ve followed all the steps in this guide, so you know exactly what is required, from whom and when.

You might also want to take some “before” photos, so you have a record of the difference between your old and new kitchen.

Have a clear out!

This is a great opportunity to get rid of appliances and kitchenware that you no longer use. So, when you come to pack up your kitchen, set aside a few hours to donate or throw out anything you no longer need. Take it as a great “Marie Kondo” opportunity!

DIY installation

If you are fitting your kitchen yourself then you will probably still need to use trades to carry out some of the work, including:

  • Installing or moving any gas pipes (this is a legal requirement).
  • Moving or installing a gas or oil boiler (this is a legal requirement).
  • Major electrical works (unless you’re able to get a qualified electrician to sign off the work you’ve done).
  • Anyone can do plumbing work, but there’s quite a big risk if you get it wrong!
  • Fitting worktops is a job you can do yourself, but you’ll get far better results if you use an experienced fitter who has the right tools for the job.
  • You should check the warranties on any appliances (for example dishwashers or hobs) to ensure that you’ll still be covered if you install them yourself.

Professional installation

If you’re using a professional installer then ideally the same company should manage all aspects of the kitchen installation, including the decorating, electrical work, plumbing and flooring. That way they can ensure that everything is co-ordinated and done in the right order.

Even if you don’t need to move out of the house when the work is being done, you might find it convenient to remove any small children or pets from the premises. This will keep them out of harm’s way and prevent them disrupting the work.

Decorating your kitchen

If you’re doing the decorating yourself then ideally you should do this once the old kitchen’s been removed and before the new one is installed. This gives you easy access to all parts of the room and means there’s no risk of you dripping paint on your brand new kitchen!

Communication is key

During the installation you should make sure you speak to the person in charge at least once a day so you can deal with any queries and check on progress.

On completion

When your fitters have finished the installation there are a few things you should expect:

  • The kitchen will be clean and ready to use.
  • The installers will give you time to fully inspect everything.
  • If appropriate, they will show you how to use the appliances, or at least give you the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • They will explain and give you copies of any guarantees or warranties.
  • Your installers will talk you through any maintenance requirements, for example how to maintain a wooden worksurface.
  • You’ll be given clear information on who to contact if there are any issues and how quickly these will be resolved.
  • You’ll love your new kitchen! If you don’t, then don’t hesitate to tell the installers what the problems are.

Step 7 – Dispose of your old kitchen

If your old kitchen is still in relatively good condition you may be able to sell it through the internet or via firms who specialise in purchasing used kitchens. Appliances can also be sold, remembering to hand over user instructions and information on warranties which are still valid.

If you don’t want the hassle of selling the kitchen, you may find a local charity who would benefit from it or you may be able to give it away on a freecycle website – you might even be able to donate to someone who’s prepared to come and uninstall it for you!

Some kitchen installers may dispose of the old kitchen for you as part of the installation process, others for an additional fee.

If none of these options are available, then you should contact your local tip/waste recycling site. They should be able to tell you the best way to dispose of the kitchen and any appliances.

Step 8 – Enjoy your new kitchen

Finally, enjoy your new kitchen!

We recommend ensuring you have free time the day after your kitchen is installed to arrange it in exactly the way you want, hang pictures and add soft furnishings. Spend time making it your perfect space before you succumb to the usual routines of life.

And, if you enjoy cooking, make a meal in it that night. Or at least use it to warm up the plates for your takeaway!

Invite friends and family over for a meal once you’re happy with the new room. You’ve spent a lot of time and effort creating the perfect space, now’s the time to reap the rewards.

The ultimate guide to designing your kitchen – checklist

We’ve distilled our 8 steps to the perfect kitchen into a simple checklist for you to print off and keep with you throughout your journey to your new kitchen:

Download our checklist

And, if we’ve inspired you with our kitchen designs, then give us a call on 01959 53 22 33, or pop into our showroom to see them for yourself and chat to one of our designers about how we can help you create your dream kitchen.

Jack Hone

Chief kitchen designer (and chef in a previous life), who loves creating perfect spaces for people to make memories in.