Much more than just a place to cook and clean, the 21st-century kitchen has become the hub of the home. Now it’s a place to chat, dine, do homework, check the internet or write your great Australian novel – as well as whipping up healthy quick-fix dishes and decadent desserts.
A desire to stay in the kitchen is partly due to the recent resurgence of cooking and entertaining at home, and it’s also due to the high-tech appliances and gadgets on offer that help speed up your cooking time while minimising the day-to-day kitchen chores.
When designing a new kitchen, it’s worth keeping up with the current trends, such as big island benches and walk-in pantries, installing drawers rather than cupboards, and choosing up-to-the-minute appliances, such as integrated coffee machines and induction cooktops.
But before you start fantasising about your ultimate new kitchen, you’ll first need to put together the perfect layout, making the space both functional and fabulous.
The big picture
Before the renovation begins, it’s worth thinking about the good and bad points of your old kitchen. You may desire a massive utensils drawer to avoid clutter, for example, or you’ve realised that just one sink is never enough.
There’s no point having a fancy kitchen if it’s uncomfortable and annoying to use. So when designing your layout, consider the way you live…
- Does one person do all the cooking or is the whole family keen to serve gastronomic feasts?
- Do you need big-scale appliances – if you love inviting friends and family for lunches and dinners, this is essential.
- Do you need extra pantry space to store all those kitchen gadgets?
- Do you need a wider bench so you can prep, while your kids do their homework?
- Do you plan to expand in the future – you may have more children, or your elderly parents may move in one day, so more cupboard space and a larger fridge are required.
- Do you prefer a smaller kitchen – if you have a busy social life and regularly dine out, a modest kitchen with compact appliances and a small pantry is all that’s required.
At the heart of every kitchen is the ‘working triangle’ – the space between the fridge, sink and oven/cooktop. It’s useful for regulating traffic flow and making life easier for the cook.
As a simple guideline, make sure each unit is no more than three metres apart for easy access.
If your kitchen is being remodelled, you may want to work around the existing plumbing and electrical locations, as they may be costly to relocate. If it’s a new house, however, it’s easier to incorporate more of your design requirements.
When choosing the right kitchen floorplan, there are several options…
- The single-line kitchen – also known as a one-wall kitchen or straight line kitchen – is a popular option for a smaller house or apartment living. It runs along one wall and positions appliances underneath counters to maximise bench space, while more shelving is added overhead. If there’s enough room, a floor-to-ceiling pantry at one end is a handy addition.
- The L-shaped kitchen runs along two adjoining walls, providing a good amount of storage and workspace. It also works well if there’s more than one person cooking at the same time. The fridge and sink are generally positioned on one wall with the oven/cooktop on the other. For a contemporary look, it’s worth adding a central bench which not only gives extra storage, it also provides a social place for family and friends to be part of the cooking experience.
- The U-shaped kitchen is both versatile and efficient, allowing for ease of movement for the cook. The layout also boasts optimal bench and storage space. Making the most of the classic ‘work triangle’, the kitchen has workspaces positioned along three adjoining walls. In a larger kitchen, there may be room to place an island bench or a cosy dining table in the centre.
- The galley kitchen requires less room than a U-shaped kitchen so it’s ideal for narrow spaces. All the cupboards and appliances are positioned along two opposite walls, making sure the cabinet and appliance doors can be opened comfortably. Kitchen experts say units on both sides need to be around 2.5 to 3 metres apart. While the galley may have entry points at both ends, it’s important to not use it as a major thoroughfare – otherwise, busy cooks won’t cope during food preparation.
The kitchen is certainly a key place for colour but its palette needs to work with other surfaces in the room.
Light timber veneer cabinetry, for example, works beautifully with cool colours on the walls, such as icy white or soothing aquamarine. A darker timber scheme, meanwhile, suits warm, subdued surfaces, such as roasted almond or rusty red.
Since most appliances are in white or stainless steel, many homeowners can’t resist introducing a pop of colour on other surfaces – an energetic hue can turn a splashback, cupboard doors or even a benchtop into a statement piece.
For more ideas and inspiration, and to see the latest product ranges, visit your local Masters Home Improvement store. Alternatively, you can now shop online with us.