Kitchen Planning: Things you need to know from award winning Kitchen Designers

31st January 2023 | All About Kitchens

About to embark on your new kitchen journey? Find out everything you need to know from the award-winning Kitchen Designers behind some of our Top 10 Real Kitchen projects of 2022. Between them, 1000’s of kitchens have been designed across the UK & Ireland, from extensions to new builds, old convents to apartments, they’ve covered it all and now they want to share their advice with you. 

Know Your Numbers

Some of us steer away from revealing our budget out of fear of overpaying for something or being “ripped off”. But we can confirm it isn’t a ploy, Kitchen Designers simply want to manage your expectations. David Fitton of Mill Town Kitchens advises that you should set your budget before attending your first design appointment, “the amount you want to spend will determine the type of kitchen you can achieve, being transparent allows us to guide you through the process and keep you on track during the initial consultation.”

Gerry Kiely of Cavanagh Kitchens & Bedrooms adds “With a budget in place we can deliver you something for an amount you are comfortable with”. If you want a shaker-style door in Graphite for example you could opt for Kensington or Dawson. These are foil-wrapped MDF doors and are therefore a more affordable option in comparison to Aldana, which is a painted solid timber framed door. Both create a beautiful space with similar aesthetics just at different price points.

Your Kitchen Designer will be able to advise where you can make cost savings across all the elements involved in your project so you can evaluate any compromises you may have to make. A huge misconception is that independent retailers are more expensive than large high-street chains when in reality they can provide you with a tailored package that delivers value for money within your budget.

No matter what your price range is, a good designer will be able to create a stunning design made for you and your home. Gary Short of Broomside Design emphasises “Planning your own home can be difficult as you are invested habitually, emotionally, and financially. Collaboration between homeowner and designer is essential and great designers will give you options you never knew were possible.” Remember for independent retailers this just isn’t a nine-to-five, they’ve designed countless kitchens in your local area with years of experience underneath their belt. They aren’t guided by head office promotions and targets for certain product lines or template designs, they want to provide you with a kitchen which is personalised to your space, a kitchen you’ll love for years to come based on what they know will work best for you. 

Left to right: Mill Town Kitchens Real Kitchen Project using Dawson, Graphite | Broomside Design Real Kitchens Project using Aldana, Graphite & Light Grey.

Balance Functionality with Aesthetics

So, you’ve your budget set, now you need to think about how you currently use your kitchen and how you wish to use your kitchen moving forward. Gary reminds us that “A kitchen that works functionally but looks terrible and conversely one that looks great, but functions poorly are not ideal. Getting the balance between good room layout, positioning of key kitchen features with its overall presentation in the room is the key. Sometimes there’s a trade-off but good designers will give you multiple options and discuss the pros and cons of each”.

To start the process, Derek Sutherland of Make Kitchens encourages you to “think about zoning your kitchen; a food zone, with storage solutions such as pull-out larders, a cooking zone with storage for cooking equipment & utensils to hand and a food prep zone with plenty of worktop space, possibly integrated bins, and proximity to a sink”.

John Carroll of Aloco Fitted Furniture adds “On top of your day-to-day tasks don’t forget about how you want to use your kitchen in social settings”, your kitchen is the heart of the home and will be the backdrop to breakfast time as well as birthday parties.

Gerry Kiely of Cavanagh Kitchens even advises on the viability of air source heat pumps in terms of where to house the physical kit within the home. ‘If you’re planning on an Air to Water system, we would highly recommend that you allow for a small separate plant room, this will give you far more flexibility in your utility room design, a space which is nearly as important now as your main kitchen, particularly when accommodating the demands of a busy household!’.   

By taking your day-to-day, special occasions, and room layout into consideration you can maximise your space. If you love to host, you might want to consider a hob on your island so you can chat with guests while you’re cooking up a storm or a drinks dresser for simplifying bartending duties. 

Left to right: Mill Town Kitchens Real Kitchen Project using Aldana, Lava | Duo Kitchens & Bathrooms Real Kitchen Project using Wakefield, Slate Blue & Light Grey. 

Take Your Time

Don’t rush the process! Your kitchen not only plays a vital role in your day-to-day life but updating it is an investment of time and money. David says, “Take your time and don’t feel rushed or overlook small but important details”. Steph Walsh of The Appliance Gallery adds “You should consider each part of the kitchen in stages, which we can help guide you through to make sure nothing is missed”. Last minute or pressurised decisions can lead to overspend, it’s important to consider more than just your cabinetry & worktop at the start of your project.

Small but mighty fixtures and fittings like handles and lighting can make a huge impact, John emphasises “Great lighting is key to elevate your final design”, consider both task and mood lighting options to ensure maximum functionality and ambience in your new space. Handle choice can completely change the style of your kitchen, from handleless rail systems to traditional bow handles, this will also have an influence on what other hardware and metal accessories you opt for if you want them to match seamlessly.

When designing your new space, we suggest putting together a physical Pinterest-style mood board to visualise your new palette alongside the kitchen design you receive from your retailer. Layer samples of your kitchen door(s) of choice, door handle(s), worktop, tiles or splashback, flooring, a paint swatch for your wall colour choice and any key accessories that you want to include. This will help bring your retailer’s digital design to life and more importantly save you from any costly mistakes and you can see how the colours will work in your space. 

Left to right: The Appliance Gallery Real Kitchen using Rezana, Carbon | Elite Kitchens Real Kitchen using Belgravia in Stone & Slate Blue. 

Design With You In Mind

You’re pinning on Pinterest, you’re scrolling Instagram, you’re inundating your partner with inspiration pictures on WhatsApp, but have you taken some time out to consider what you really want? Gary encourages homeowners to not be constrained by popular styles on social media, “If you want to go bold and eccentric – go for it!”. Steph adds “Choose what you want, try not to let other people’s opinions dictate what you pick including your best mate”. Charlotte Forbes of Kitchen Ergonomics says, “Forget about resell value & estate agents, design your space for you and your family”, your space should bring you joy and if you ever move on the next owner will likely want to put their own stamp on the property.

Both Steph & Charlotte agree that you should be brave with colour and not be afraid to use statement pieces. In a world of grey-toned kitchens, Derek predicts the 2022 trend of bold blues and greens will be at the forefront of 2023 if you do want help narrowing your choices. Opt for rich hues like Indigo & Heritage Green or subtle shades like Willow & Light Teal to transform your kitchens colour palette. If you’re a neutral lover, Cashmere & Taupe Grey are earthier tones that will add warmth to your space. 

Left to right: Clonmel Kitchen & Bedroom Centre Real Kitchen using Clifden, Heritage Green | Cavanagh Kitchens & Bedrooms Real Kitchen using Wakefield, Marine.

Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

When you’re ready to organise your first design appointment (you can find you nearest approved retailer here), bring the following information with you to help guide your appointment denoting what are must-haves and what are nice-to-haves:

- A list of any issues you have with your current kitchen, common ones are limited storage, poor traffic flow & floor space.
- Any items you would like to include like quartz worktops, a boiling water tap or a hob with an integrated extraction fan, which are just some of the things in high demand according to Derek.
- Any design features you would like to have like a breakfast nook, drinks dresser or walk in pantry.
- A list of appliances (fridge, hob, oven, wine cooler) you want to add including their sizes, Gerry says this is a must for making your initial design consultation easier.
- Inspiration pictures.
- Floor plan & dimensions.

We’ve put together a free comprehensive Kitchen Planning Wishlist to help kick off your process before you step inside your local approved retailer’s door which covers the above, scroll down to the bottom of our website and subscribe to our mailing list to receive a free downloadable copy. 

Designing a new kitchen can be a challenging task, but with the help of a professional designer and these tips, you can create a space that is both functional and beautiful.

P.S A big thank you to Steph, David, Charlotte, John, Gerry, Derek & Gary for taking the time to share their top tips with us. 

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