Kitchen planning tips from top designers
If the size, shape or style of the kitchen in your home doesn’t bear any resemblance to the one in your dreams, it’s time to call in the experts. Sometimes, a talented kitchen designer will be able to suggest structural tweaks that create a better space, but for anything that extends beyond the units and layout, you may well benefit from extra help.
The most successful kitchens — with a fabulous island, seamless transition into the garden and beautifully coordinated soft seating — are now rarely the work of just one design talent. They’re usually created by a crack team of kitchen designer, architect and interior designer working in tandem to open up ceilings, knock down walls and coordinate surfaces, colours and finishing touches. Creating more space or natural light tops the wishlist of major changes, closely followed by the desire for a more sociable or multifunctional scheme, then increased storage, improved flow and design cohesion.
Unless your project is relatively simple, it makes sense to at least talk to a kitchen designer, architect and/or interior designer about your options. Going beyond mere fabric coordination, interior designers excel at creating an inviting atmosphere, establishing focal points and softening the kitchen’s hard surfaces.
Creating colour schemes that will work across the entire room and beyond is an art
that many struggle to pull off. A skilled interior designer will create moodboards that reflect your style and taste, and recommend colours and patterns that you might not have considered. They are also great at introducing different textures and materials that will soften the space and make it feel more homely and welcoming.
FINDING THE RIGHT PERSON
When you are inviting any professional to make significant alterations to your home, it’s always reassuring if they come highly recommended. Ask friends and family, post on social networks or introduce yourself to the owners of properties in the area who are having similar work done. Your kitchen designer, who will be familiar with local architects and interior designers, can also advise on potential candidates. If a particular practice has caused endless headaches on a previous install, or has a reputation for running over schedule, your kitchen designer probably won’t hold back.
The architect and interior design industries are both supported by professional bodies that can provide a shortlist of members in your area. Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) offers the peace of mind that its accredited practices comply with strict criteria regarding insurance, health and safety, and quality management systems. British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) is similarly scrupulous about its members, who must follow a stringent code of conduct.
Your initial meeting with an interior designer is the time to establish if they ‘get’ your desired style. Though any good interior designer will be flexible, they often have a signature look that their customers buy into, or they might have a stronger skill-set in either traditional or contemporary design. Seek a designer that can translate your ideas — you want to come away from a meeting feeling inspired rather than anxious.
'It is important to seek the advice of kitchen designers and architects to make the most of the space and to prevent expensive mistakes. My pet hate in kitchens is gaps at the top of cupboards as these are serious dust traps. Floor-to-ceiling cupboards are much more visually appealing.'
Photograph by Robert Sanderson