Thursday, 24 January 2013

All those banana skins

Kitchen design can be a tricky business, a very complicated, tricky business!  So if you're considering a kitchen change you'll no doubt have some idea of what you'd like the new kitchen to be.  But hold on.  First consider some of the main "banana skins" that have caused many a slip.

1. Worktop, worktop, worktop.

One of the main complaints about any kitchen is a lack of worktop space.  So when you think about your new kitchen, make sure that you have enough worktop space by considering how you use your worktops now. The amount of space you need will be specific to your circumstances and will vary with the size of your room and budget.

Make a list of the types of activities you need specific worktop areas for, and evaluate how they may overlap when more than one person uses the kitchen.

Materials matter, too. Where laminates are rugged and heavy-duty, some of the high priced stone, concrete, metallic and natural wood worktops need regular maintenance and special handling.

2. The Golden Triangle.

The kitchen golden triangle links the three areas of greatest activity: the sink, the cooker and the refrigerator. There should be unobstructed access to and from all three of these locations. Of the three, the sink will see the most action and should have easy access to the cooker and refrigerator. Aisles,  door swings and islands that cut off direct access to these key areas make a kitchens frustrating to use. On a design plan, a few extra steps may not seem like much, but after a few hundred trips around a jutting island corner, you'll start to feel differently.

3. Room and more room

Kitchens typically contain lots of stuff. Not only that, but the items concealed behind cabinet doors can be oddly shaped space hogs. So finding a home for your kitchen stuff that still keeps it easily accessible is tricky. But one big design mistake is not including enough storage.  Remember a working kitchen includes lots of tools that contribute to preparing and serving meals. So try to design in as many storage areas as you can.

4. Island Design

Installing a kitchen island offers a promise of additional storage and preparation space. But choosing the wrong island or placing it in the wrong spot can be a disaster. Remember that the kitchen is a work area, and anything that gets in the way of working efficiently is going to be a problem. Islands that obstruct the flow of traffic to and from the sink, refrigerator, or cooker will create problems. One solution is to add a sink or cooker to the island and make it part of the functional kitchen triangle. Another is to position the island so that it has lots of space around it and doesn't impede foot traffic.

5. Lights
Kitchens need three types of lighting: general lighting , task lighting, and accent lighting. As you consider your kitchen design, think about how you will light each area for it's purpose. General lighting is often provided by ceiling lights together with natural light from a window. But where many designs fail is not consider task lighting. Preparation worktops, the sink and the cooker  should all have task lighting so design it in.

6. Air to breathe

You'll understand the need for good ventilation if ever you've walked into your home only to be overwhelmed by the aroma of last nights dinner! And, of course, cooking meals generates a lot of moisture that would be better housed outside the house.  So a good ventilation system will help improve the quality of your home and help keep your kitchen cleaner by venting odors and airborne grease particles from the kitchen.

7. Rubbish to throw

Dealing with kitchen rubbish is often a case of placing a pedal bin near the back door.  But in the age of recycling and rubbish sorting a little more thought is a prudent investment. Rubbish management, then, is no longer a local council activity but something you'll need to address. Consider what the different rubbish bins you'll need;  food waste, glass, and other-recyclable are the three most common but there could be others in your area.

8. Stay in the black

Kitchen renewable is a big project and a budget can easily get out of control.  Only you know how much you can afford, but set you budget first, be realistic and stick to it.  Also remember that project managers would feel a major project completing with a 10% over budget cost as on target!   They are all too aware that changes of mind, extra desires and unforeseen problems all add to the cost during the life time of a project.  So set yourself a contingency and ensure you stay within that.

9. Trendy but personal

You're taste is your taste.  And jolly good it is too, for you.  OK, no one should tell you what design your kitchen should be, it's your home.  But if you're putting a kitchen in to sell a home, be conservative. 

Have you ever wondered why all new built homers are painted in magnolia colour as standard.  Because, while not setting the world alight or making a style statement, magnolia offends nobody and compliments just about any style of furniture.  So if you choose big colours or brash design bear in mind that others may see that as a disadvantage.   No problem if your staying in the home for decades, but if you plan to move next year consider the future and try to design to please the majority.  Conservative design accessorised with your taste is much more flexible.

10. Follow that map

Remember those project managers.  They know only too well that correcting a "design fault or change" at the installation stage can cost 150 times over changing a requirement on a paper design.  The moral, of course, is to get your requirements right and then get the design right.  That will give a plan to stick to.  In this way you'll actually save yourself a lot of money.

So consider carefully at the start and then seek professional advice. For instance, come down and chat to us at Kitchen Solutions Kent. We often hear people apologisiing for taking a long time or multiple visits but it can take weeks or months to get that design right.  So please, take your time.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Dream Islands

 A kitchen island or peninsula can dynamically extend the design potential of just about any kitchen.

The first kitchen island were the traditional farmhouse kitchen table that doubled as extra work surfaces as well as eating places.   But today you have the option of selecting islands of the same design and materials as the kitchen cabinets, whether the island is free-standing or integrated. Any free-standing piece of furniture with a counter height surface can serve as an island.  But most customers today require islands that offer hidden cabinets and shelves in addition to another work surface.

However, it remains that the island is most often used as an extra work surface or a casual room divider separating the kitchen from another family room. In either case, if you add under floor wiring, plumbing, and gas lines, the possibilities for an island's usefulness are endless. Once the plumbing and power lines are planned in just about any appliance can be located in an island.  One of the growing popular uses is as a place to house a sink. The option of facing toward the family room is so attractive that such a "kitchen island sink" has challenged the classic "under the window sink" in many homes.

But remember your needs and tastes are individual and only you can determine what kind of island you desire. In a smaller kitchen, you'll get maximum storage, convenience, and a neat appearance if you specify cabinets on both sides of the kitchen island. The common kitchen principle of extending every surface at least an inch beyond the cabinets to prevent dribbling down cabinet fronts especially applies to islands. Obviously, you'll need significantly more overhang for knee room  if your island is used as a breakfast bar.

An island opposite the fridge is a logical place for the microwave. It's still within the work triangle, which makes sense because most of what goes in the microwave comes from the fridge. Alternatively, if your microwave gets more use as a "snack fixer", you may prefer to locate it outside the triangle but still near the fridge in a combination "work island/snack bar".

In larger kitchens you may like to consider the thought that "if one island is good, two are better." A primary island may be stationed within the work triangle, housing extra storage, a fridge or refrigerator drawers, a sink, and so on. Another island might then serve solely as a breakfast bar.

But whatever your needs, an island or peninsula can open out those design possibilities and turn your new kitchen into the family room it really is.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Kitchen Design: Where To Begin

Your kitchen could well be the room where your family meet and engage most often, or just a small cooking facility! Whatever roll your kitchen fulfills it must be efficient, comfortable and beautiful for it is central to your familiy life and needs careful consideration when it's up for change.

So what should you consider when contemplating a kitchen change?  Well, we at Kitchen Solutions Kent feel you should consider a few basic points before you begin.

Firstly you need to assess your kitchen needs.  At this stage, remember it is your kitchen and the advice of others, while helpful and interesting, will not have contemplated the same needs, likes and loves as you.  So chat with your family, and friends extensively, but do speak to professionals whose first step is not to talk but to listen.

Don't worry if you feel bewildered at this time.  Everyone does. Kitchens are complex and no one design fits all.  Look at as many displays, photographs and brochures as you can and keep pictures or notes of things you like.

Remember, set your budget, establish your essentials and note how you really live.  Be honest with yourself.  While a state of the art oven may sound ideal, if it's not going to be used to it's full potential then a saving here could release that budget for something that really lightens your kitchen life.  Be sure you have fun thinking things through and involve all of your family. They will all have needs from the kitchen.

One essential tip to remember is the kitchen triangle.  Efficiency experts have noted that a natural pathway exists in any kitchen between fridge, oven and sink. This natural pathway forms the heart of your kitchen and while it's sides need not be equal, it is always present.  Consider this natural affinity and try to imagine how you would move around it and, in some kitchens,  what distances you would cover!

Also make sure your design includes counterspace next to the open side of the fridge for standing those bags of shopping, as well as plenty of heat and wet resistant counterspace on both sides of the hob and sink for landing of heavy, hot, or slippery cookware.

Big or small, most efficient kitchen designs fall into one of a few basic arrangements. L shape kitchens have one long "leg" housing two of the three basic appliances and one short "leg" housing the other. U shape kitchens have two "legs" and a connecting "middle leg", while G shape kitchens are L or U shaped with an added peninsula partly separating the work area from an adjoining space.  Finally, galley-shape kitchens often have the hob and sink on one wall, the fridge on the other, and a walkway in between.

Whoever you seek advice from, though, always remember they should be "listening".  No two kitchens are the same and your needs are unique.  A good kitchen designer doesn't tell you the latest craze but listens to you talk about your kitchen life and designs it around you. 

Little things will give the game away.  So if they ask if you're left or right handed, feel assured ... they are looking to put the draining board on the correct side of the sink for you!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Alternative stone

Corian is the original stone alternative for worktops.  It combines natural minerals with a clear acrylic resin so is solid throughout it's girth, durable, non-porous and hygienic.   A template is required to ensure  millimetre worktop fit.  The Corian is then hand crafted so unique and esoteric creations can be installed in any space.

So what are the characteristics and features of this unique material?  Well being non-porous spills of oils and fats will not be absorbed leaving the worktop odour free.  It's solid throughout so scratches can be polished out and it will not delaminate, thus making it durable withstanding spills, scrubbing and extended hard use.  

And because of these characteristics it's hygienic.  There are no pores or holes to trap dirt and bacteria making it easy to wipe clean and keep clean with an off the shelf kitchen cleaner.

But it's best property is it's versatility.  As all worktops are template designed and hand made, it can be crafted into an infinite variety of shapes and designs. Rich natural colours with the translucence of stone yet warm and inviting to the touch add the finishing finesse.

And Corian is not just used for worktops! Wall cladding, upstands and window reveals can all be crafted. 

 Corian, the most versatile stone alternative.