Kitchen Design Tips & Ideas
There are many ideas and opinions as to kitchen designs and ideas. The tips and ideas below are to help get you thinking about what will work best for you.
We hope you find these beneficial in thinking about the design of the “heart” of your home. No doubt your kitchen designer will have many more great ideas and suggestions! If you have any other ideas, tips or pictures of your finished project you’d like to share with us – email us at [email protected] – we’d love to hear from you.
One of the first things you need to decide on is what your budget is. Obviously, it is important to get a clear idea of how much you’ve got to invest in your new kitchen. If you can get this sorted out early on, it will greatly help you and your designer to develop the right concept for your lifestyle. Due to the huge advancements in the industry in recent years, you can invest anything from $3000 to well over $100,000. There are many variables that affect the value – size, fittings (for example; soft close systems are much more expensive than standard closing systems), structural alterations like moving walls, the type of doors and bench tops you have. The list goes on.
It is worth mentioning that you should bear in mind how much time you spend in your kitchen, and how much enjoyment you will get out of cooking in a smart kitchen. Also remember that you should aim to get the best quality you can – it will cost you more initially, but it will add value to your home and the higher the quality, the longer it will last.
Like cars, clothing and furnishings, kitchens come in many styles. As a new kitchen is a significant investment, choosing a kitchen style that suits you and your home requires serious thought. It helps to know if you prefer a modern or more of a traditional look. By making this decision early on, it will help you more easily define choices on everything from cabinet door styles to what type of tap you would like. Choosing a specific design theme, such as Traditional or Minimalistic, gives you and your designer a much better idea of where to go in the design. Check out our gallery here for more ideas, styles and designs. Flick through our product range too – and take note of the types of handles, sinks, taps, and other items that appeal to you. You and your designer will most likely begin to see a theme coming through if you do this.
THE WORKING TRIANGLE
The geometric shape of a triangle—albeit an imaginary one—has always been an important element of a kitchen’s design and functionality. Using the working triangle provides efficiency in your kitchen, as it keeps all the major work areas near the cook, without them being so close that the kitchen becomes cramped. The working triangle is also designed to minimize traffic so you aren’t interrupted or interfered with when cooking.
The “working triangle” is an imaginary straight line drawn from the centre of the sink, to the centre of the refrigerator, to the centre of the cooktop, and then back to the sink. Ideally the sum of the work triangle’s three sides should not exceed 7.5m, and each leg should measure between 1.2m and 2.7m.
- The work triangle should be in a clear area – ie not through a island unit. Ideally, no major traffic flows should cut through this triangle.
- If the kitchen has only one sink, it is best placed between or across from the cooking surface, preparation area, or refrigerator.
The work triangle isn’t without its flaws though: It assumes that a kitchen will only have three major work areas and one person cooking. As a kitchen grows in its dimensions, and features more than three work areas, the usual work triangle isn’t always the best solution. And in today’s society, two or more people often share cooking duties. Because of these flaws, kitchen designers do not always use the standard working triangle when it comes to drafting kitchen plans. Often it is necessary to use two or more triangles (maybe one in the main kitchen and one in the scullery), or they may have to do away with the regular triangle entirely, and just come up with the most practical design that suits what you need. Remember – your lifestyle is what should determine the kitchen design.
The working Triangle isn’t a mandatory rule – it is an idea that often works well.
The food prep zone is where it all starts. If your kitchen is large enough to accommodate an island, the food preparation zone would be well-placed there – especially if you have an open plan area with a “breakfast bar” here, it is nice to be able to interact with any others in the room. Most of us like to catch up with other family members or friends after work while one of us is preparing the evening meal. It’s useful to include a second sink and tap in this zone for rinsing fruits and vegetables, as well as a second refrigerator for storing milk and eggs if your main refrigerator isn’t close at hand. Some other useful items to include in this area are drawers with cutlery inserts for knives and utensils, pullout storage for your main ingredients, and pull out rubbish bins for waste and recycling.
The baking zone is where muffins, biscuits, breads, and casseroles come to life. Ensure you have the right amount of bench space, and you’ll need to keep a number of ingredients and items close at hand. Usually the following items would be placed in this area; drawers and pull out baskets with utensil trays for items like measuring cups and spoons, places for items like flour and sugar, baking paper, drawers for easy to access storage of dishes, bowls, cupboards for trays and pot mats. An easy to access area for your larger benchtop appliances like food processors, with plenty of power points is very handy.
This is based around the range or cooktop. Often the microwave, toaster and jug are kept here as well. It is well worth having a good sized range hood above your cooktop, to minimise stronger odours and steam – especially on hot summer evenings. Pot and pan drawers and baskets need to be close by, along with spice drawers and a utensil drawer for spatulas, tongs and spoons. If you can put your microwave on a shelf here, it’ll save you bench space.
Your sink and dishwasher are the centre of this area. An under sink drawer is a great way to have easy access to your scourers, brushes and sponges. Put a pullout tea towel in the nearest cupboard to keep your towels neat and tidy. A bottle rack under the sink is also a fantastic way to keep detergents or cleaners organised. Have some drawers close by for your plastic containers, cling wrap etc. for leftover food. Have a good pull out rubbish bin system for rubbish and recycling on the side of the sink where you pile up the dirty dishes. The dishwasher will normally go on the opposite side of the sink. Include drawers for clean tea towels and clean dishware, cutlery and cups/ mugs. Remember to consider adding easily accessible storage for tablecloths, placemats, napkins, or infrequently used china if your dining area is close by.
KITCHEN ISLANDS AND BREAKFAST BARS
Islands and breakfast bars have become the norm in new kitchens. They’re very user friendly, capable of storing pots and pans, concealing appliances, creating an important part of the work triangle and taking the place of the kitchen table. Often used in open plan kitchens, islands can open up a dialogue between the kitchen and the living room, the cook and the family or friends. One important thing to take note of – its best not to “overload” this part of your kitchen – an oversized island can limit your ability to manoeuvre – especially with multiple users in the kitchen, and can interfere with the kitchens overall efficiency.
With careful planning and and being creative, you can transform a small, cluttered kitchen into an efficient, stylish and organised kitchen. You don’t have to get frustrated with over packed drawers and cupboards and bumping into other users.
Even a larger kitchen can feel small if it the bench is piled high with books, food and plates or if it has been designed with a closed in feel or look. To create the feeling of space, use pullout storage systems, and make sure you choose the right appliances and other strongly visual items like sinks and taps to suit the room.
STORAGE AND ORGANISATION
Go to the ceiling with your tall cabinets to gain storage for lesser used items Get more from your cabinets using pullout systems and storage containers. They make it easier for you to access and find the items you need when in small spaces.
LIGHTING AND LIGHT COLOURS
It is very important to get your lighting right in a small space. Place lights under the overhead cabinets to illuminate the bench tops. Bring in as much natural light as you can by being careful on your window furnishings. Skylights work a treat if you have dark areas away from windows. Light coloured cabinets, walls, bench tops, and flooring will lift the room and brighten it. Expand the sense of space with open shelves and aluminium framed glass doors.
Taking your time to get the best placement and the selection of your appliances can greatly improve the look and feel and efficiency of a small kitchen. Save bench space placing the microwave under bench or in a wall unit, and by having a freestanding oven or a hob above an under bench oven. An appliance garage can keep toasters and other small appliances hidden and out of the way when not in use. Choose appliance models that reduce visual distractions and contribute to a more streamlined look.
KNOCK OUT A WALL
If you're willing to explore changing the floor plan, the best way to expand a small kitchen is to literally take out an internal wall to make for more open plan living. Consult a professional to see if there is a non-load-bearing wall or two that can be removed.
COLOURS & TEXTURES
An often used theme is to colour a room with a 60-30-10 split between three colours: use one colour on a majority of the space, a little bit less of another, and an even smaller amount as an accent colour. As a general rule, your major colour might cover the walls and/ or the cabinet doors and panels; your secondary colour the floor and or a feature wall; and your accent colour the bench tops.
You can influence the look of your kitchens size by the use of shades and colours: light and cool colours with minimal contrasts make an area look bigger. Dark, warm and/or bright colours make an area feel smaller. You can “hide” undesirable features by surrounding colour. Your colour consultant or designer will be able to help you much more on this.
The use of bright colour can really bring your kitchen to life. Generally your tops and cabinets and flooring will represent your greatest investment and will need to stand the longest test of time, so you may be more comfortable choosing colours in a more neutral finish. You can liven up the room by using bright colours on your accessories, small appliances and decorative items. As an example - it is amazing what a red coffee set sitting in one corner of your bench will do to the kitchen.
The use of texture can make your surfaces more interesting, and offer more contrast both in tactile and visual terms. Generally you would have 2-4 contrasts in the kitchen. You may have smooth, glossy stone tops, stipple finish doors, patterned floor tiles and window furnishings with a swirl through them. There will be find the right combination for your situation, and sometimes it will just fall into place without you really making a conscious decision about it.
Often we decide to get a new kitchen because of a major event coming up. This may be some friends or family coming in 3 months time or you’ve got a sum of money coming into your account in the next month or summer is coming. As in all goal setting – it is important to have a date in mind as to when you would like the project completed. It’ll help you in making decisions and will also keep the whole project running along more efficiently. Discuss your time frame with your designer or manufacturer – they may well have time constraints. Often items like tops or some types of doors will take longer to make than others. There are a host of variables at work.