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How To:

Design a Kitchen


So what’s it going to be? When it comes to planning a kitchen, there are myriad things to consider. Jo Lamiri provides the ingredients for success.

Walk into anyone’s kitchen and it’s pretty easy to work out when it was put in. Remember the ‘cottage’ look in the 1970s when everything was rustic and brown (even the food), or the 1980s era of chintz, when even the kitchens got in on the act, with distressed units and ‘knicker blinds’.

More recently we’ve seen a vogue for kitchens more akin to operating theatres – sleek lines, white units, stainless-steel surfaces and not a stray biscuit crumb in sight. But the current aesthetic is softer, seeming to lean towards a more rustic or industrial vibe: metal pendant lighting, potted plants, exposed brick walls, wooden floors.

Modern Design

The great thing about modern design is that you can really use it to express your personality. With tiles, for example, white mosaic will offer a minimal look, as will a glass splashback, but those with a boho soul may prefer pretty patchwork tiles or a colourful Mexican or Spanish feel.

“Kitchen design in 2018 is all about timber veneers, colour contrast, texture, metallics and the ongoing industrial look,” says bespoke furniture manufacturers Schmidt (it’s worth checking out their site at for great mood board inspiration). Indeed, this year’s kitchen trends cover a wide range of looks: an integrated, multifunction trough sink alongside the main butler’s sink for growing herbs or chilling wine and seafood; concealed lighting for mood; warm colour tones complemented by gold or brass fittings; the clean lines of Shaker style.


Colour is creeping back on to the agenda too, whether it’s pastels – a ‘safe’ choice if you’ve been wedded to white – or intense dark colours, which can add drama and atmosphere.

But choosing your style and colour scheme is only the beginning. You also need to think about your lifestyle: are you passionate about cooking? If so, you’ll need lots of storage and preparation areas. Love entertaining? Make your kitchen the focus of your home with a large table for gathering together friends and family.

Modern Living

Over the past decade or so, the formal dining room has become a thing of the past, reflecting a more relaxed take on modern living. Nowadays, we all tend to congregate in the kitchen for after-work chats, relaxing drinks and dinner –”¯even when entertaining. As a result, kitchen islands are hugely popular, providing space for guests to sit at.

Another major factor is how messy or minimal you are. Some people – especially those who eat out a lot or live off takeaways – can manage with a couple of shelves and cupboards, but if you’re channelling your inner Nigella, make sure you factor in lots of shelving, cupboards and drawers for food ingredients and equipment. Interestingly, one trend is for more open shelving to display stylish bits of kitchen kit, while keeping more functional items out of sight in cupboards.

The design process

When planning a kitchen, there is plenty of kitchen design software out there nowadays – some of it free, such as Opun Planner and Kitchen Planner. Stores such as Ikea and Magnet also offer in-store 3D planning, so that you can cost the kitchen and get an idea of how it will look.

Whether you choose a single or double galley kitchen with one or two continuous runs of cabinets; L-shaped kitchen built into a corner with plenty of counter space or a U-shaped kitchen, surrounding the cook on three sides, one of the most important aspects of any kitchen’s design is the ‘golden triangle’. This simply means careful positioning of the sink, fridge and cooking area, keeping them close together to allow for easy access and workflow between them without being too cramped when more than one person is in the kitchen.

Always picture yourself cooking and think about the processes involved in, say, cleaning dishes. We tend to clear food from plates, rinse then put them in the dishwasher, so it makes perfect sense to have the sink, bin and dishwasher close to each other, with the same areas also easily accessible from the food preparation space so that you can wash and trim vegetables. For the same reason, make sure pots and pans are within easy reach of the hob. But whatever style you choose, make sure it suits you and your family’s style of cooking –”¯and eating.

Top Tips

  • Create a mood board: read magazines, look in estate agents’ windows, search online, check out Pinterest and Instagram. You’ll soon get an idea of the styles you like.
  • Think about how you live: is your kitchen mainly for food preparation or for entertaining? Keen cooks will need more storage space for all their gadgets while the truly sociable may sacrifice storage space for seating (or wine chilling cabinets and warming drawers).
  • Make sure you follow the rules of the ‘golden triangle’.
  • Once you know what look you want to achieve, identify which retailers can provide the kitchen of your dreams.
  • With cheaper kitchen ranges, check out the durability of the drawers (do they buckle when you press on the base from inside?), how secure the handles and knobs are and the general finish quality.
  • If buying cheaper kitchen units, always remember that you add upmarket look elements with more expensive tiles, handles and splashbacks, as well as concealed lighting.
  • Ask friends or colleagues where they bought their kitchen: standards do vary.

The 6 Styles

Clinical: white, white, white, stainless-steel work surfaces, everything behind doors. You wouldn’t know this was where food was cooked.

Boho chic: potted plants, patchwork tiles, wooden farmhouse table and benches and vintage lighting.

Cottage style: floral soft furnishings, traditional units, a tablecloth (possibly with frills).

Shaker: clean lines, storage mostly hidden away, muted colours.

Natural: exposed brick, wooden floors and tables, organic veg in the fridge and a sourdough starter at the ready.

The Exhibitionist: mural on one wall in primary colours, designer label appliances displayed on open shelving, state-of-the-art hob.


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