Your kitchen is, without a doubt, one of the most important rooms in your house.
A place where your family will spend plenty of time cooking, chatting, eating and bonding. It’s a unique part of the home because not only does it need to be aesthetically pleasing but also practical on a much larger scale than any other room. Finding this balance is crucial, but how do you make the right choices? Here are some elements that are worth considering before you settle on a kitchen style.
1. Your personal taste
It should go without saying, but if you love an understated, pristine finish, it makes sense to stay within these remits. A kitsch Cinderella’s castle-esque kitchen, with plenty of cupboards for storage and open shelving for showcasing personal items and crockery, will be perfect for some people. However, this design isn’t for you if you prefer a contemporary, minimalist and clutter free scheme — no matter how functional it is. Your personal taste has to come before anything else. It’s your kitchen after all, and it should feel as such. In order to figure out what you like, create a Pinterest board or scour through interior design hashtags on Instagram, saving the most appealing ones to your favourites. Very quickly a theme will emerge, so let that guide you in your style choices.
You can also find inspiration in the rest of your house, to ensure your kitchen looks consistent with the overall style. Think about the best design elements in your favourite room, and try to replicate them. If you’re a big fan of the reading nook in your living room, consider creating a breakfast alcove or a cosy space for family members to sit while others are cooking or eating. And if your bedroom makes you feel comfortable due to its muted hues with a few pops of colour, a similar sensation in your kitchen would do the trick.
When it comes to creating a space that suits your taste, many kitchen design companies will work with you step by step to incorporate personalised features. For instance, Harvey Jones is renowned for its stunning Shaker kitchens — a classic design that looks wonderful in every kind of home. However, your kitchen will be truly unique to you as the company customises every element in line with your tastes and preferences. “Your kitchen can be tailored specifically to meet your needs according to your choice of colour, materials and other features to create bespoke kitchens of outstanding quality,” the Harvey Jones designers explain.
2. Its purpose
Once you know your tastes to a tee, it’s time to consider the other side of the tipping scales — the practicality. To do that, you need to identify the purpose of the room. If you’re a bachelor whose top homemade dish is scrambled eggs on toast, you’re probably not going to require as much worktop space as a stay-at-home parent who cooks every meal from scratch for the entire family. Little children or pets may mean avoiding styles with intricate detailing that take more time to clean. In these cases, a handleless design might be the perfect solution as this will be easy to wipe down and it means sticky fingers won’t be leaving marks on silver or brass handles.
Some kitchens simultaneously work as dining rooms, but if you have a separate space for that purpose, you could have more storage instead of a breakfast bar, for example. What’s more, some materials demand more TLC than others. Marble countertops are beautiful and sturdy but can be tricky to clean, so realistically they aren’t a good choice for someone who plans to cook a lot with little time for upkeep. Instead, opt for quartz or Corian that achieve a similar look with less maintenance. These are the kind of things you should think about to suss out what functionality means in your particular case.
3. The storage you require
A kitchen is not just a place for constant activity — it’s also home to the ingredients, appliances and tools you use, keeping them safe and secure. Some people can live with one dinky pan while others won’t even consider cooking without a whole set of Le Creuset cast irons. Do you need a fully stocked pantry at any given moment? How many people live in your house (and how many will live there in 5, 10 or 15 years time)? Are you a doomsday prepper who needs dozens of tins of food to feel safe? Your household’s needs will determine not only the amount of storage you require, but also what kind.
For example, delicate china will look beautiful in a glass-door cabinet, but it’s probably not the greatest spot for cluttered food supplies. Fresh ingredients should be positioned in a cooler area of the room, while preserved foods can go pretty much anywhere. If you cook regularly, you might want to forego some storage real-estate for a larger fridge. Take note of everything that you need to keep nearby, divide all the items into categories, and design your storage around them.
4. Your budget
Everyone hates this part, but unfortunately, budget can be the barrier between a perfect kitchen and an okay one. That being said, you can still build a great room at a low cost. It’s all about knowing what you can afford as early on as possible. Sometimes it may be worthwhile to wait a couple of months longer if it means you can save up a bit more, but other times you might be able to cut down on luxuries you don’t necessarily need. Whatever you do, remember to allocate more money than you expect to spend so you have some wiggle room in case things don’t go as planned.
Regardless, there are many ways to enhance your kitchen without spending thousands. You can make a space really pop with a chic yet affordable backsplash wallpaper, or replace basic handles and hardware with more sophisticated designs, for example. Some kitchen companies also sell ex-display implements for far lower prices, so enquire with your chosen provider for great deals. The best way to keep costs down, though, is to decide in advance what areas you want to invest in and what you’re happy to buy for a cheaper price (and perhaps updating later). Mixing and matching budget options with luxury ones can be a fantastic way to get the design you want without splurging.
5. The current layout of your space
Unless you’re planning a full-blown renovation, or you’re lucky enough to build a kitchen from scratch, you’ll be bound by a predetermined layout and architectural features such as pillars, windows or islands. If you have a small and cosy kitchen, opting for an industrial style simply might not work, as these are known for the boundless atmosphere they evoke. It may be worthwhile considering a rustic homely feel that would suit the space more.
The direction of your kitchen and the windows will also largely influence the design. If the room tends to be dark due to where the windows are facing, you’ll need to put some thought into how to maximise the lighting. You should probably steer clear of delicate pendant lamps or low-impact spotlights. Try to consider the way you use the space in conjunction with its physical reality to truly make the most of it.