Thinking of renovating your kitchen? Read these fail-safe tips first…
A very large kitchen is not always the best
While you need space for things such as storage and work surfaces, and you definitely want to be able to move around without bumping into cabinets, keep in mind when planning a kitchen that big is not necessarily beautiful.
Designers say many people building a new house or planning an extension get seduced by the space. They equate size with efficiency and find out the hard way that the two are not necessarily compatible. At the end of a long
day slaving over a hot stove their legs ache
from walking metres more than the clever planner with a compact U-shape, L-shape or galley kitchen.
A good rule of thumb if you’re planning the most popular configuration (the U-shape) is to step out three big paces in either direction. This allows space to bend and reach, and for cupboard doors to open, yet eliminates unnecessary floor space.
Plan to include lots of useful bench space
Bench space is one of the most sought-after kitchen features. Ask anyone what they can always do with more of in the kitchen and it will be more work and bench space.
Ideally, you need at least two — one for preparation and another for serving food.
Plan for less than four square metres of bench space (including the sink and hot plate) and life will be one long juggling act. The recommended depth is 600mm or 650mm if you do a lot of wok cooking or use bulky stock pots. The added width will accommodate a big pot, a wok burner and any oil splashes; it will also take a dishwasher so it sits flush with the cupboard doors and create a neat look.
Subtract walls for an open-plan kitchen
A cramped kitchen will feel less so if you remove non-load-bearing walls in adjoining rooms to make it open-plan. Break through to the dining or family rooms, or a passage. If you don’t want to go all the way, remove half the wall to leave a servery opening or a shelf for ornaments. This ‘look-see’ approach will camouflage a small space and give adjoining rooms a new dimension.
Open-plan kitchens are popular so may be a wise move if you’re renovating with re-sale in mind.
Choosing materials for your kitchen
At the moment, benchtops made from solid materials, such as natural or engineered stone (such as CaesarStone), are in vogue as are man-made products such as Corian and Greenfirst by Laminex, a surface and wood panel range approved by the Green Building Council of Australia.
Tiled and glass splashbacks are popular as is stainless steel. Just make sure that whatever you choose it’s the best quality you can afford, it’s water- and stain-resistant, and it’s easy to clean.
Glass splashbacks and glass bricks
A clever way to introduce natural light to a kitchen on an outside wall is to install glass panels in the wall between the overhead cupboards and benches. Not only will this eliminate the need for a traditional splashback, but it will give you a different view outside. Where privacy is an issue, substitute glass bricks for plain glass.
Making the smart appliance choice
Today we want kitchens that look sleek and function efficiently, which extends to the appliances we choose. In terms of smart technology there are pyrolytic ovens that cook faster and self-clean, induction cooktops with elements that switch off automatically when the pot is removed, and refrigerators with integrated televisions, ice-makers and chilled water dispensers.
While some people want appliances hidden as much as possible in the cabinetry, others like them very much on display, with stylish stainless-steel finishes, impressive restaurant-quality stoves and glass-fronted wine chillers. Decide which approach you prefer and
Add some colour with accessories
Add colour with accessories. Settle on your new scheme and buy or make matching tea towels, pot holders, curtains, blinds, even tablecloths and napkins if the table is close by. Carry through the theme with serving dishes and saucepans.
Fruit and vegetables are always good for colour. Don’t keep them tucked out of sight in the crisper in the fridge. Vegetables won’t wilt if you pile them in a bowl on the bench for a couple of days or for a special occasion. Do the same with fruit. If the cupboard is almost bare, a glass bowl with green or red apples, or fresh lemons is a good standby.