Arguably, your kitchen is, per square metre, the most expensive room in your house and yet people do not give it the attention that is most definitely warranted. You should treat your kitchen as a specific item and cost it separately in your specification.
The first point to consider is that of design. The space and the shape that is available coupled with the way that you wish to work in your kitchen and the equipment you will need to create those culinary masterpieces will determine the criteria for design. This is where the experience of your designer and their ability to translate your dream kitchen into a reality within the given budget will play an important roll. In many cases a badly designed kitchen that does not work for you could cost just as much as a well designed one that does. It is very easy to draw a pile of cupboards in, position a stove, sink and fridge but the difference is all in the design. Choose your designer carefully.
PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS WHEN DESIGNING YOUR KITCHEN
If you’re a single person who uses a microwave, a kettle and very little else then your design would be a fairly simple one. If however you are a caterer of note then the design of your kitchen would obviously be very different. If the kitchen was a family meeting point where the kitchen table becomes an important piece of furniture and the space around it needs to be designed correctly. Do you need space for large pots, a pantry, a separate scullery/laundry? Do you cook with gas, or want an Aga stove? Are you into recycling in which case waste management must be considered?
Your designer should be looking at the basic work triangle making the best use of the space available and that you have adequate space for preparation, cooking and serving. All these lifestyle points need to be discussed and taken into account in the design.
Make sure that the worktops that you select will be suitable for your purposes and that it is water, steam and chip resistant. Your general choices include granite, post-formed tops, solid wood, concrete and a variety of manufactured tops. When choosing your top, avoid looking at small samples and rather view a large piece to get a better idea of the patterns or colouring. An important item to consider is the height of your work top above the floor which can be adjusted if you are particularly short or tall.
The doors that you choose will be the defining item in your kitchen and probably the most expensive too. You need to consider the finish on the door, both inside and on the outside, the colour or combinations of colour and the many patterns that doors have these days. A visit to a number of kitchen showrooms with your architect will give you both a good idea of what your thoughts on this issue are. The height at which your top cupboards are positioned and the depth of the shelving is to be considered.
Photo: Courtesy of Homemakers Expo
HINGES, HANDLES, ETC.
The single area where I find the most frustration is with the way that kitchen cupboards close is regarding the hinges. Cheap hinges invariably collapse after a few years and it is wise to consult your designer in this regard so that you include quality hinges in your budget.
Your choice of door handles is also a budget item to consider because of the range in the price and type of handles that are available. The choice of handles will also contribute in a big way to the ultimate look of your kitchen. It just depends on your budget.
Then there are a number of makes of drawer runners on the market that will also make a big difference to the ease with which your drawers will open and close which vary in quality and price and you are again advised to look at the different types and make an informed choice. Items like cushioned door dampers and various other gadgets that you may wish to include in your kitchen can be found in most reputable kitchen company showrooms for you to look at and test.
KITCHEN LIGHTING AND PLUGS
Lighting is not something that can be thrown in just to light up the kitchen. The positioning and choice of light fittings both for practical purposes and for effect are equally important. Under counter lights, ceiling or wall mounted lights, foot lights and even lights in cupboards will make a huge difference to the look and comfort level in your kitchen.
It is also important to provide sufficient plugs in places where they are needed and where they can be accessed. (ie. The plug for the fridge should not be directly behind it where it is impossible to reach and those for your washing machine and dishwasher should have above counter isolators.
The size of the various items in your kitchen must be taken into account right from the beginning. Some of the fridges, deep freezes, stoves, particularly gas stoves and microwave units are quite large and do not fit into the traditional spaces that are normally reserved for these items. There are many sink and prep bowl designs on the market which vary considerably in size and your choice will again influence the space that is needed around it. Your designer would need to keep this in mind when designing those spaces.
Many modern fridges also require a water supply as do dishwashers and washing machines. All of then should have their stopcocks mounted above the counter for easy access in case of emergency.
Your kitchen will always be a major selling point in your house and it is going to cost you the most out of all the rooms. Just make sure that you are spending your money wisely.
Compiled by Les Abbott
L A Design Studio and
All About Building