Follow us | OXHC Magazine On Pintrest Follow OXHC Magazine On Facebook Tweet OXHC Magazine On Twitter OXHC On Instagram OXHC Club

Designing and Installing a Kitchen

For the classic, modern or country kitchen of your dreams…Oxfordshire’s Amanda Hanley by Design

Create a kitchen which feels as if it has been assembled organically over time

The classic kitchen should always reflect the style of your home.

A well-organised space epitomise today’s family room.

The use of statement pieces in unusual shapes and materials will guarantee a focal point, especially when contrasted with surrounding units.

In the zone

Until recently, designers used the working triangle of fridge, sink and oven as the basis for kitchen design. However, in open-plan rooms there is often too much distance between areas for this to work, so in many of our kitchens we now look at providing specific zones. That is the setting up of separate areas for relaxing, eating, preparing, cooking and serving.


Appliances are contained within an appliance garage, whilst chopping, prepping and cooking takes place on an island, and drinks are prepared at a wet bar area which may include a wine cooler and a coffee machine. These zones also require their own lighting and ideally should be on different circuits and dimmers to create the many moods required within such a multi-functional space.

The aim is to create a kitchen which feels as if it has been assembled organically over time.

The look centres around warm timber tones and soft, distressed paint finishes, with units often featuring simple panels, chunky wooden handles and tongue-and-groove detailing. Combine finishes and materials and look to freestanding pieces such as the dresser and farmhouse table to create the informality required for the country look. Further crucial authentic elements include the Belfast sink and traditional Aga, and, if space allows, a versatile island unit.

Space issues

The country kitchen comes in many shapes and sizes but it should always embody that eclectic mix of furniture and accessories. However, if you do not have the luxury of a large space then do avoid the temptation to cram in as much as possible.

Blend classic and contemporary styles to create an organised space enhanced by bold choices.

Today’s kitchen is not only for cooking and eating, but also a place in which friends and family gather. Therefore the room must comply with both function and comfort.

Mixing old with new, whether it’s working with reclaimed material, integrating salvaged furniture, or mixing traditional veneers with contemporary finishes, allows for a flexible space in which modern-day conveniences can be blended seamlessly with tradition.

The ideal kitchen is hard-wearing but also warm and welcoming, becoming a multi-purpose room towards which everyone gravitates.

Kitchen cabinets

Free-standing cabinets bring a sense of real craftsmanship and charm to a period home.

With storage squeezed in wall-to-wall, there are many advantages to specifying a fully fitted kitchen, which is a central feature of most homes, old and new. To create a more relaxed, individual look that is particularly in keeping with a period house, however, you simply cannot beat the character offered by an unfitted kitchen, or at least a built-in design that incorporates some free-standing elements.

Usually made of solid wood, unfitted furniture offers greater flexibility to the design, too, as the pieces can be repositioned if you want to alter the layout in the future – with perhaps the exception of plumbed in sink units. They can be also taken with you should you ever decide to move house.

There are several key pieces which work well as focal points. A work table or central island unit is a practical and ergonomic addition, which can double up as a dining area. Importantly, it enables the chef to be positioned at the centre of the kitchen, rather than prepping with their back to the room – a familiar scenario in many fitted kitchens. Although an island is not technically moveable, especially when installed with a prep sink or hob, it evokes a free-standing feel.

In open-plan kitchen/dining/living spaces, a table or island can also provide the all-important link, or divide, between different zones. Choose similar materials and colours, and matching storage and occasional pieces for a cohesive look.

The best kitchens, whose design appears effortless, are the result of careful planning and consideration.

Shaker panelled doors offer a fail-safe and ever-popular option with maximum versatility thanks to their ability to work in any setting.

Kitchen furniture needs to be in proportion. Whilst fitted kitchens may be economical with space, they can lack the character of freestanding kitchens which work especially well in older, grander properties. Current trends lean towards a mix of fitted and freestanding to create relaxed informality, or fitted units that feature varying depths and heights in order to break up uniform lines.

The best kitchens effortlessly combine aesthetics with functionality, but with all the choices available. Arriving at an ideal arrangement can prove a dilemma.


The virtue of the freestanding kitchen lies in a look designed to reflect the relaxed character of one’s home, and embody the feel of a room assembled organically over time: simple and stylishly and informal.

The freestanding kitchen is a traditional concept that works well in the older home, due to its authenticity, whilst in the modern house it can help inject a distinctive character.

Look to separate all primary kitchen functions, then exaggerate the differences by using varying work surfaces and incorporating a range of colours and finishes throughout the room. This mix-and-match philosophy creates a relaxed, eclectic feel that fits well with today’s lifestyles, whilst also being both decorative and practical.

10 Points to consider when designing and installing a kitchen

1 Space

Consider how much workable space you actually have within the room and what can realistically be incorporated within the design.

2 Lifestyle

Think about what the kitchen is to be used for, who will use it and whether it will adapt to meet any future changing needs.

3 Storage

It’s easy to underestimate how much you’ll need. Note which items you like close to hand and which can be stored away.

4 Style

Consider your home’s size architecture and style when choosing a kitchen. The design that you opt for should be both sympathetic to the style and in proportion to the size.

5 Layout

Check there is adequate space between all fitted units and freestanding furniture to ensure freedom and ease of movement.

6 Work surfaces

Ensure there’s sufficient surface area around the hob and sink, and consider that small appliances on show will take up space.

7 Accessibility

Check the doors at the end of a run of cupboards do not open directly onto the wall as you will find there is insufficient room to manoeuvre larger items in and out.

8 Lighting

Ensure lighting is considered, designed and though about alongside the initial plans for the layout of the kitchen. Combine good overhead lighting with adequate task lighting.

9 Electrics

Cabling will be run under floors and in walls, so give serious thought on your initial design to the number and position of all the sockets and switches that you will need.

10 Plumbing and Heating

Plan for these during the initial stages. Keeping your sink washing machine and dishwasher together will cut down on work required. Installing underfloor heating ensure no loss of valuable wall space.


Amanda Hanley

01993 822 385 | M 07976 353 996 | amanda@amandahanley.co.uk


Related Articles: A Room With A View: Glass Architecture | Arredo3 Kitchens by Vision Kitchen Design | John Lewis of Hungerford | Amanda Hanley