Kitchen brochures always contain breath-taking images of dream spaces with acres of uncluttered worktop and pristine draining boards. But how will those magnificent units look in your own kitchen?
Most of us don’t have the luxury of these vast rooms, and even those of us that do can rarely aspire to a kitchen where the only suggestion of human habitation is a freshly-opened bottle of Chianti. The kitchen is a practical, working area in which we have to work at practical things.
So, especially in the smaller kitchen, space management becomes of paramount importance. Fortunately, today’s kitchen units have usually been designed with this in mind, so your new fit-out will almost certainly be more space-efficient than the old. But there’s still a lot you can do on your own account to get the most out of your workspace.
Your first area for consideration should be the space above your work surfaces. Can you win extra storage by adding cupboards or shelves here? Remember that these cupboards should generally not be as deep as your work surfaces or you’ll be constantly bumping your head as you work. But you can break this rule in corners, where you’re less likely to be leaning forward.
Even in a small kitchen it’s often possible to win extra storage space by choosing deeper units. This reduces your floor space by an inch or two, but surprisingly it actually makes little or no difference to the appearance or usability of the room. By stealing a tiny amount from your floor area you can gain a surprising amount of extra cupboard space.
Use the Corners
Older kitchen units often waste the space in corners. Either that or you have a cavernous cupboard, the back of which you can barely reach, let alone use. If you have one of these it’s almost certainly filled with unused pans and old sandwich toasters. Unused space is wasted space. Think about a carousel unit – most can take the weight of saucepans and frying pans, and even those right at the back are within reach.
The Look of the Thing
So are those brochure photographs always beyond your reach? Not if you plan well and choose carefully. Extra storage space means clearer work surfaces, which will make your kitchen look bigger. It’s your work surfaces that contribute most to the aesthetic appeal of the new design, so keep them clear and think about adding a splash of luxury. Granite worktops cost far less than you might imagine, and there’s a deep quality to the real thing that can never be attained by laminates. If you do go for a laminate surface, make sure you choose a quality product that won’t scratch, stain or burn. And pay attention to edges and corners: well-made surfaces will be bonded and finished so that they won’t chip or peel over time.
If you’ve included above-worktop cupboards, think about including concealed lighting on their undersides. Light at this level, as well as making the kitchen nicer to work in, also makes it look bigger, and it enhances the look of those surfaces.
Always remember that your kitchen is a work area. Not only should you take the time to lay it out correctly, but you should choose units and surfaces that will cope with years of service and still look superb.