Often the kitchen is the heart of the home. It is the place where all the guests automatically gravitate to. It is also where birthday cakes are iced, lunches are cooked, and endless cups of tea are made.
Unfortunately, it is often also the last room in the house to be re-decorated or redesigned. One of the reasons for this is that there are simply so many different things that are needed in the ideal kitchen.
For a family who are planning to redesign the kitchen this can become a daunting task. What do all the members of the family need? How much storage space do they want? What sort of seating arrangement would they prefer? Kitchen design can turn into a veritable nightmare if things are left to get out of hand.
No matter how quickly you want your new kitchen up and running, don’t be tempted to head of to the nearest showroom and spend money. Take a step back – no, take a few steps back! Get a notebook and pen ready and take some time to think about what you and your family really want for your new kitchen.
Write down the things that you would like to have. This may include some luxury items which you may or may not incorporate, such as dishwashers. Also write a list of what you must have. The two lists are different in that one is a wish list, while the other is of essential appliances.
So, once you have your two lists, you’ll be ready to go.
1. Have a budget
It is important that even before you start your kitchen redesign that you have a figure in mind of what it can cost. This is not the figure that you think it may cost, rather it is the amount that you can afford to spend on your new kitchen.
Make sure you are realistic about this figure. Don’t set yourself a limit and then find that you cannot afford it unless you leave yourself in debt. Rather set a figure that you can afford to pay off than to find yourself in financial trouble, even with a new kitchen.
2. Have a ‘rainy day’ fund
This is a fund of a few hundred pounds just in case you need it. You may never need to use it, but silly things do happen and may cost you extra. The dog knocks over the tin of paint and you need another one. Things happen through no fault of anyone’s. Just a small amount in case you need it will go a long way to take added stress off your shoulders.
3. Be upfront with the builder
This goes hand-in-hand with the first point. Make sure that you and whoever is redesigning your kitchen are on the same page. Make sure that they have a copy of the diagram that you have. They need to be aware of how many extra power points you want, where they are to be placed, and how the units need to be arranged. Be prepared to spend time with your builder each day to go over what they will be doing the next day. Be prepared for a little ‘give and take,’ he may have other clients who he is also helping so much as you want your kitchen done as soon as possible, be patient with him. Above all, be open with him, you will both find the redesign a lot easier this way.
4. Assess your needs
Talk through what you must have in the kitchen. Discuss the size of the fridge and freezer. Are you going to need space for a coffee machine, microwave, dishwasher? Will there be a separate laundry room for your washing machine and maybe tumble drier?
5. Think function
Although everyone would like a beautifully designed kitchen, you should remember that it is a ‘working room.’ While people may come there to sit down and have a cup of tea, essentially the kitchen will be used to prepare meals – lots of them! School lunches, breakfasts, snacks, suppers, special occasion meals – and the list goes on. You will need various areas to prepare, cook, serve and store food. While there should be separated, they should also be close enough that you can quickly walk between them.
6. Think extra storage
Whatever you have in mind for ‘adequate storage’ try if possible, to add a little extra space. The biggest mistake in the planning stage is to skimp on the storage. Literally you can almost never have too much space, so spend some time re-evaluating this important point and see if you can add another unit somewhere.
7. Use light wisely
There is nothing worse that coming into a kitchen, trying to get a meal ready in dull lighting. It becomes frustrating to say the least. Under the top units are a great place to add extra lighting so that it shines down on your hands where you are working.
If you have incorporated an eating area in the kitchen you should still have bright lights there so people can see what they are eating. Afterwards they can turn the lighting down using a dimmer switch.
If your kitchen is being redesigned from an older one, then the chances are that there are too few sockets. Back in the 70’s there were not as many gadgets as we have now, so the average kitchen did not need as many power points as these days. More is better, as they say. It will save you lots of frustration to be able to plug an extra gadget in without having to unplug something else first.
Rather than having several small separate surface areas, you may want to aim for longer counter tops. This will be handy when you are dishing up food for several people, as well as making it easy for you to spread out when working. One thing you should try to avoid is having to use different counters to prepare a meal because it does not fit on one. You’ll find yourself having to walk between counters to get ingredients and this will simply waste time and leave you wishing you had thought of one solid counter instead!
10. Think fresh paint
While it may be appealing to pup wallpaper in the eating area of your kitchen, consider whether your kids are small or large. Perhaps the smaller kids will be more messy than older ones, but a food area should be easy to clean. Wallpaper may look good but unless it is easy to wipe up after a session with several messy kids it will soon become tedious. A coat of neutral coloured paint will also give you the opportunity to hang some of your favourite pictures without them clashing with the wallpaper. Neutral colours look clean and can even make an area look larger.
11. Safety first
Now is a good time to place a fire extinguisher in your kitchen or check the old one is still in date. Keep it somewhere you can get hold of it fast if you need to and make sure that all who live there know how to use it.
12. Think fresh air
Before you buy your new stove, make sure you also budget for an extractor fan. This will remove cooking smells from your home and keep the kitchen smelling fresh and clean.
13. Work the triangle
The triangle is the area from the fridge to the sink to the stove. Ideally you should be able to get from one to the other in the shortest time possible. This does not work if you plan on having an island in the centre unless one of the points is at the island.
While it is not essential to work on the triangle, it does make life a little easier for you.
14. Allow time – and more time
As anyone who has had work done on their house will tell you, allow the time you’ve been quoted by the builder or salesperson. Now add some extra time. Things very rarely go perfectly to plan, builders arrive late, delivery companies get lost, some things are not always in stock and need to be ordered…and the list goes on.
Allow yourself a decent amount of time to get your kitchen finished. If you find that you have the exact time available that you are quoted, you may want to reschedule for a later date when you can allow for some extra time. Don’t leave yourself chomping at the bit because things are running later, rather accept that if you are quoted three weeks for your new kitchen, it may well take five! This way, if it does get done in four weeks – happy you!
To sum up
So, after all this, I hope you are still planning to redesign your kitchen! While it may seem that there is a lot to think about, you will find that with forethought and planning it can turn out to be painless.
The important thing with redesigning your kitchen is to have a budget and stick to it. Once you have worked out what you can afford, stick to it.
If you have planned everything in advance, there should be no surprises – or at least very few and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying your redesigned kitchen.
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