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Kitchen Inspiration

Planning is the key to creating the kitchen of your dreams,writes Beverley Brown

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£250,000 TO £150,000 / WWW.BSPC.CO.UK

This award winning kitchen design (UK Design of the Year 2010) uses wraparound Callerton Havana Walnut laminate furniture with frosted glass units to create a large, interesting living kitchen. From Kitchens International.

Kitchens have to be functional - aesthetics alone just won’t cut the mustard. However nowadays you don’t have to sacrifice style for practicality. Technological advances in the manufacture of appliances and the use of new materials and computer-aided design software, mean the kitchen of your dreams is here and now. Trends come and go like the ebbing tide but every so often along comes something that evolves to become a must-have – such as the kitchen island. The kitchen island concept, first launched by Poggenpohl at a Cologne International Furniture Fair in the 1960s, was arguably the first step in blurring the boundary between kitchen and living areas to create a more open, functional work space that is also sociable and relaxing to be in. Island designs, quickly picked up by other kitchen manufacturers, have continued to evolve to become the most sought after element of kitchen design today. The beauty of an island is that it is infinitely adaptable in terms of shape and size and therefore has the ability to fulfill myriad needs, either free-standing, built-in-or-out from a wall or cabinets and designed to remain in one place, or designed to be moved around.

The revolutionary iXelium cooktop is a stainless steel gas hob that has a high-tech coating designed to protect its pristine appearance and make it more resistant to scratching, yellowing and corrosion (

Smeg FP610SV fan oven, £899 from John Lewis, has cool-to-the-touch quadruple-glazed doors, removeable inner glass for easier cleaning and pyrolytic cleaning, which destroys all the dirt deposits at 500oC

Classic Italian influence - Rimini offers a clean, simple linear design in a range of colours and textures that can be mixed and matched. From John Lewis

An island can range from a simple food preparation area - with or without breakfast bar -to a multi-functional work centre housing cooking appliances, sinks, dining area and storage. And just when you think it has reached its zenith, the latest design innovation is a ‘floating’ island suspended on a cradle – a style that satisfies the desire to have a large, functional island without it dominating the room. Islands have made kitchens sociable, which is the secret of their success. Gone are the days when cooking dinner was a solitary affair carried out facing a wall while family and friends sociably conferred in another room. Put a hob in an island facing into the room – the favourite location nowadays – and the cook takes centre stage. Paul O’Brien, director of Kitchens International (the Edinburgh dealer for Poggenpohl, amongst other top European brands) comments: “Most of our clients want some sort of island and see it as a feature of the room, whether it is a simple division between the kitchen and living or dining area, or an island that houses many of the kitchen functions. Often it is also the main everyday dining area, in which case we recommend having a raised or screened breakfast bar to keep the cooking and dining areas visually separate.” When it comes to style, he adds: “The on-going trend is for the island to be in a different material to the wall units, often in a natural or neutral tone. This enables the taller wall cabinets to make more of a statement while the island blends in with furniture elsewhere in the room. Shapes are also leaning towards curves and organic shapes, especially in islands. Using round blocks on the ends of islands – or a curved island – can give a softer look in a large kitchen.” In terms of colour, natural tones remain the most popular – beiges, browns, creams and whites, but used in conjunction with an accent colour, in for example, a splashback or on one wall of units. Patterned and brightly coloured units can be real show-stoppers in a kitchen showroom but run the risk of becoming dated after a short time.

Given the financial investment involved, most people the sensible choice is to play safe with neutral and/or wood shades that have timeless appeal. Coloured glass is increasingly being chosen for back panels and splashbacks. However, texture and contrast are stealing the edge on colour, as in contrasting tactile wood veneer with smooth high gloss lacquer or laminate, which gives depth to a kitchen and looks fabulous. Refitting a kitchen is a major undertaking and one that requires planning in detail to make sure you make the most of your investment. The starting point for any new kitchen installation is the one you currently have; what is it you would most like to change? What works and what doesn’t? Do you eat in the kitchen/need more worktop space/storage/better lighting/more appliances? Do you need more power points and where? Do you iron in the kitchen, in which case you might want an integral ironing board, etc. It helps to list physical constraints, like door and window openings, as well as other aspects like colour, choice of materials and use of space. Plan ahead; cut out and keep anything you like from magazines and kitchen brochures and take these with you when you visit kitchen showrooms. Ergonomics play a vital role in good kitchen design, however the old-fashioned ‘triangle’ between the sink, cooker and preparation area is now somewhat dated, since many kitchens now have dedicated zones like island units as part of a much larger or open-plan multi -functional space. What’s important is that the way it works should reflect how you live and take into account personal factors such as height and physical constraints. Dishwashers, for example, tend to be located at floor level, which if it’s used frequently can involve a lot of bending down; integrated at eye-level height, loading and un-loading becomes far less of a chore and much easier on your back. These are all elements a good kitchen designer will incorporate at the initial planning stage.


John Lewis’s City kitchen is available in a choice of five gloss door colours and four matt wood effects for maximum versatility (08456 049049/

Take note of how you work and make sure these areas remain close together to eliminate unnecessary walking. This means storing pots and pans near to the cooker; having condiments at hand where you’ll be cooking and waste bins near food preparation areas. How you shop should also be reflected in your kitchen design. A walk-in shelved pantry is ideal for those who shop infrequently but on a big scale (along with a big freezer), while wall cupboards and open wicker basket storage for fresh vegetables may be preferable for people who buy little and often. Your choice of appliances – and their locations – needs to be considered at the planning stage in case you need additional plumbing and electric work prior to new flooring being laid. Kitchen technology is improving all the time, so what you liked last year may have already been superseded by something even better. Visit as many showrooms as possible and make use of a professional design service if you can. You might think you know what you want but professional input could result in ideas you hadn’t thought of, such as having a peninsula section if the room isn’t large enough to accommodate an island unit. Keep looking until you find a designer you feel is on your wavelength – and make sure you have a fully itemised list of all the costs up-front and know exactly what’s included in the service. It’s also important to know from the onset who will oversee the work and who will be responsible for hiring the different trades. Timing is critical when you are installing a new kitchen; better to perhaps pay a bit more for a complete service than have to hire individual trades yourself and risk the tiler not being able to start on time because the plumber hasn’t turned up. Many of the choices you make will be determined by your budget, others by individual taste. And there are many choices to make.

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Another contrasting kitchen, from RWK. Armano H combines natural oak with high gloss premium white. From Kitchens International (0131 337 3434/

Matt or high gloss finishes? Handles or smooth open-at -a-touch cupboard doors and drawers? Traditional tiled splashbacks or seamless panels made from stainless steel, Corian or Corian-type materials? Cupboard storage? Or deep drawers that reveal their contents at a glance, putting an end to having to rummage to see what’s stored at the back of a cupboard. Storage is the big one. While kitchen brochures like to display their products in lofty settings typically the size of an entire average house, the truth is most kitchens are far more modest – and some are very small. Fortunately many of the most innovative improvements in kitchen design in recent years have centred on clever storage and accessories that ensure there are no gaps in the kitchen and that every inch of space is put to work. Pick the features that will make your life easier – pull-out larder units; plate drawers; drawer shelves; wicker baskets; integral wine and herb racks; carousels and corner units; so-called ‘magic corners’ where the action of the door opening swings out one set of baskets, which in turn pull out a second set; worktop rails; pull-out recycling waste bins; concealed knife blocks, ironing boards and chopping boards; pop-up electric sockets and more. There are other ways to maximise space in a small kitchen. Look for slimline appliances or have integrated versions that will create an unbroken run of units and make the kitchen appear larger than it is. Similarly, avoid excessive decoration like period-style barley twists, panelled doors, ornate carving and fussy handles and instead opt for smooth handle-less cabinets. It can also be a good idea to fill in any gaps and extend wall units right up to the ceiling – use the top row of cupboards to house items that are used infrequently. If you don’t have room for a dining table consider incorporating a breakfast bar arrangement or see if you have room for a space-saving fold-down wall table. No longer standard, some kitchen fittings have acquired the status of artwork as well as being functional high-tech products in their own right – taps, for instance, which often combine a variety of different operations. Extractor fans are another example of products that have moved further and further towards being classified as sculpture. Here too the functions have expanded, with some models incorporating lighting and other looking like lights and incorporating extraction. Worktop options are almost endless, the most popular ranging from solid hardwood (expensive but improves with age) to stainless steel, granite, acrylic composites such as Corian and laminate, the latter the most widely used material given that it comes in a huge variety of colours, textures and finishes, including granite and wood look -alikes. When it comes to buying appliances choose energyefficient models. By law, EU energy rating labels – ‘A’ being the most energy efficient and ‘G’ the least efficient - must be shown on fridges, freezers, washer-dryers, washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers and electric ovens. They may cost a little more but can use half the energy of the lowest rated appliances, so you’ll save in the long term. With cooking appliances, don’t buy bigger than you need.

The larger the cooker or stove the more energy it will use. Choose a hob with different ring sizes or hotplates and if you have a choice, remember that gas hobs cost half as much to run than electric rings (and produce half the amount of greenhouse gases). If you have to cook with electricity, induction hotplates are up to 30 per cent more efficient than standard hotplates, while a fan oven is up to 25 per cent more effective and produces up to 35 per cent less greenhouse gas. Regardless of how much work goes into the planning or how well your new kitchen functions, it’s how it looks at first glance that will give it the ‘wow’ factor that gets people talking. While the choice of cabinetry will set the theme – from wooden Shaker and period styles to sleek high-gloss contemporary – often it’s things like unusual or unexpected shapes (like curved worktops and rounded units), accessories and finishing touches that give it the visual impact that stops people in their tracks.

Kitchen Inspiration - The BSPC Property Guide  

Kitchens have to be functional - aesthetics alone just won't cut the mustard. However nowadays you don't have to sacrifice style for practi...

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