Q. Dear Andrew, I am thinking about replacing my kitchen. How should I go about doing this?
A. Before you get carried away with designing your new kitchen, make a detailed plan of the space – measure everything, note where the water and power points are. While you do not need to keep the same layout exactly, you may be constrained by space and should bear this in mind from the start. It may be possible to rework other rooms such as the living room or dining room to provide extra space.
When planning your kitchen, ease of use is paramount. Think about the work triangle – that is, the location of your cooker, sink and fridge. You will be constantly moving between these so placing one of them too far away from the others will just annoy you. There are four main zones that you need to incorporate: food preparation, cooking, serving and washing up. But you don’t have to give each of them equal importance. For example, if you rarely prepare meals, then don’t devote too much to the preparation area.
Think carefully about the style of the units and don’t be tempted by the latest fashion unless you are prepared to live with it for years. High gloss has been very on trend but will you still like red gloss units five years down the line? White gloss is equally trendy but has longevity. Plain wooden fronts can be safer and the handles can always be changed to liven up the look at a later date.
Deep drawers are more practical for storing kitchen equipment than lots of cupboards. Wall-to-floor cabinets that pull out are excellent in small kitchens. Try to keep laundry appliances out of the kitchen because this frees up space and they can be quite noisy. Choose a quiet dishwasher, such as Miele, if the kitchen is next to the living room or if you have an open-plan area.
Once you have planned the essentials, you can start to think about the worktops, flooring and choice of appliances. While you might love the idea of a large cooker, would you use it? Worktops can add a luxury touch so spend as much as you can afford – granite or Corian are good options. And be careful with wooden floors, which get very slippery when wet so choose tiles rather than wood.
Andrew Dunning is head designer at APD Interiors, an interior design consultancy, www.apdinteriors.com. Follow his design tips on Twitter: @andrewdunning