MY KITCHEN RULES
How to design your perfect kitchen.
Kitchens have become so much more than a place to prepare food. Today’s kitchen is a place for gathering, eating, working, relaxing, entertaining and a thoroughfare. It not only needs to be versatile and functional but also appealing - real estate surveys show that the kitchen is one of the most important features of the house to potential buyers. If you’ve decided to completely replace your kitchen and see yourself as a budding kitchen planner, here are some of the tried and tested rules of how to design a kitchen.
The Golden Triangle
At the basis of a functional kitchen design is layout. Consider the three most important functions within a kitchen - food preparation, cooking and storage - and you have the three most important areas – sink, stove and fridge. These three areas form a triangle within which the majority of kitchen traffic will flow. If the triangle is too small, people will be tripping over each other. If the triangle is too large, cooking will become very tiring. Ideally the combined distance between the three areas should be less than ten metres.
If your kitchen is large enough, an island bench is great way to make your kitchen a place to socialise as well as cook. An island fitted with a benchtop overhang and stools allows the cook to face family and guests. An island fitted with a sink can also enhance the functionality of the kitchen’s golden triangle.
Kitchen designs come in many layouts: L-shaped, U-shaped, galley style and island style. While each one has its own traffic flow patterns, there are two things to consider for any kitchen. For traffic within the kitchen, no major traffic patterns should cross through the golden triangle. For traffic in and out of the kitchen, no door should interfere with the operation of appliances.
Apply yourself to Appliances
When sorting through which kitchen design ideas are right for you, keep in mind these general rules to maximise the functionality of your appliances. For safety reasons, the cooking surface should not be placed under an operable window. You should allow for at least 40cm of benchspace next to or above the oven, another 40cm on the handle side of the fridge, and another 40cm above, below and adjacent to the handle side of the microwave. The ideal location for the microwave is 10cm below the shoulders of the person who uses it most often. Locate the nearest edge of the dishwasher less than a metre from the nearest edge of the sink.
Keeping in mind the golden triangle, the sink should be adjacent to or across from the cooking surface and refrigerator. Allow for benchspace for food preparation on both sides of the sink – at least a metre on one side and half a metre on the other.
Make your benchtop tops
Once you have worked out the practicalities of your benchtops, you need to think of the style! Have a look in magazines for some kitchen ideas. The modern look is all about natural textures with thick edges. Marble, matt granite, stone composites, polished timber and poured concrete are all popular.
Stock up on storage
You can never have too much storage in the kitchen. Consider not only the amount of storage, but also the type. Cupboards or drawers? Shallow or deep? Consider the easiest way to get to those things you use the most. Drawers maximize storage space by making it easy to access places otherwise hard to reach. Deep drawers are perfect for pots and pans. Shallow drawers are great for cutlery.
No more wasted space collecting dust. Cupboards should reach the ceiling or bulkhead. Benchtops should remain flat, sleek and uncluttered with few visible joins and no appliances out on permanent display. Consider disguising your dishwasher behind a door in the same material as the cupboards. Keep your handles low key, or even remove them altogether by using invisible ‘finger pulls’ cut into the edge of the cupboard door. Smooth lines and clear benches give the feeling of openness to your kitchen.
Colour. Colour! COLOUR! (But not too much of it.)
Neutral colours are calming, won’t date and they go with anything. Light colours or natural wood can visually enlarge a space. Keep darker colours to the bottom row of cupboards. While dark colours make an impact, they can overwhelm small spaces. For that creative burst of colour, the best place is the splashback or the front panel of island benches.
Switch on to lighting
Good lighting should be functional and add an element of style. Every work surface should be well lit by appropriate lighting. Over-bench lighting is great for your vision, and the atmosphere of the kitchen. Pendants, halogens and ceiling lights with dimmers are all ways of creating a modern, relaxed atmosphere in your kitchen.
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