The kitchen is the heart of a good home. Families spend a large part of their time in the kitchen, either preparing meals or sitting at a table enjoying them. Parties always tend to drift towards the kitchen too. We really do have a love affair with our kitchens, so it makes sense to take the time to create a kitchen that you feel comfortable in all year round, and one of which you can be proud.
Kitchens are, without doubt, the most expensive rooms to refurbish, so good planning is essential to ensure that money is not wasted on features that you will not use and eventually regret. A kitchen is also one room where you should not try to cut too many corners. A good kitchen could last for well over 20 years and quality fittings and appliances often have much longer warranties than cheaper options. Here are our top tips for putting together a new kitchen.
Invest in your kitchen
This means that you should use high quality materials throughout. Soft close hinges and smooth drawer slides will make your kitchen seem more luxurious. Solid wood cabinets will last a lifetime, unlike many of the particleboard cabinets that are on the market. Wood veneer is longer lasting than melamine, laminate, MDF or particleboard, and will look good for much longer.
One important consideration is to use the best quality cabinet. Doors, drawer fronts and handles can all be replaced if they become worn in years to come. If your cabinets are well built and well fitted you will save money by not having to replace the entire kitchen.
Measure up properly
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is ordering standard height cabinets in kitchens with high ceilings. Make full use of the available space. Not only will you greatly increase your storage space, you will also create a neater kitchen that fills the room. Large spaces above cabinet tops can look unsightly. Remember, you can always use a stool to reach items on the top shelves.
Choose the finish
Wooden cabinets can be stained or painted. Both provide a unique look to a kitchen. Staining is easier to touch up, but painted cabinets are more contemporary and stylish. One current trend is cabinets in a high quality white gloss finish. These can look amazing, but consider how they will look in ten years when parts start to look worn, and also consider how they will be repaired.
Choose a worktop that complements your kitchen
There are essentially three types of worktop – wood, laminate and stone. Stone worktops, such as granite and quartz, can look exceptional. They are, however, by far the most expensive option. Wooden worktops give a rustic feel to a kitchen but do require more maintenance over the years. An advantage of wood is that you can sand it down and stain it to remove burns and marks. Also remember that stone worktops are not indestructible. If intense heat is applied they may crack, and light quartz can also stain. If you are on a budget then go for laminate which is cheaper to replace, and modern laminates are of a very high quality and can be almost as stylish as stone. That being said, a quality marble worktop will turn a dreary looking kitchen into a vision to behold, and you will be the envy of your neighbors and friends.
How often do you clean?
If you clean your kitchen every day then stainless steel and smooth laminate surfaces work well. They tend to show crumbs and dirt easily, however, so if you tend to clean every few days, or live in a very busy family house, go for a surface that helps to disguise such things. A textured stone or laminate works well.
Keep appliances basic
There is a temptation to get the latest, high-tech appliances and have integrated refrigerators, washing machines and microwaves. This can look great, but appliances have a shorter lifespan than units and replacements can be costly. Free-standing appliances help to give a kitchen more character and are more affordable.
Islands in large kitchens only
Many people want a kitchen island that acts as a place to snack and prepare meals. Some islands also have a hob. If you have a narrow kitchen, avoid this. Often islands take up much more space than anticipated and once installed are hard to move without a refurbishment. Also take into consideration the selling point, as many people want to have a traditional dining table at the center of the kitchen for family meals. You can buy stylish freestanding islands which are ideal in case you change your mind later on.
Keep it simple
It may be tempting when flicking through a kitchen design brochure to include intricate details, but to stand the test of time a kitchen should be reasonably minimalist. Streamlined kitchens are also easier to keep clean.
Keep it personal
Remember, your kitchen is for your lifestyle. Showroom kitchens look great, but are not designed to be lived in. Make sure that you have space in your plans for family photos, kids’ art work, calendars, noticeboards, vases and all the other little things that make your family kitchen the center of your home.