The Ins and Outs of Kitchen Design

Top tips for different shaped kitchen designs!

Kitchen renovation design and build

The kitchen is often described as the heart of the home as the design of a kitchen can really make or break the feeling of the room. In recent years there’s been a shift in the favoured interior design for kitchens and now we’re seeing two opposing styles gain popularity – country chic and industrial aesthetics. Both work with a variety of different kitchen layouts and there’s lots to be considered… which will you choose in your new cooking, baking and food prep space?

Galley Kitchens

The word ‘galley’ actually refers to the food preparation compartment of ships, trains and aeroplanes, but in a residential kitchen design is a single straight line design. Galley kitchens are extremely prevalent in terraced houses and townhouses, usually toward the back of the property. A galley kitchen has appliances and worktop counter space along the two longest walls of a long rectangular room. Dependent on the space available, there may be further countertop space at the end of the room or a door to another room (often a WC in older terraced homes).

Single Wall Kitchens

A kitchen layout growing in popularity amongst contemporary homeowners is a single wall kitchen, where all of the counters, cabinets and appliances are set against one wall. The other three side of the kitchen are open and are often facing open-plan living areas. A single wall kitchen may include a kitchen island to provide extra worktop space where required or to ‘zone’ the kitchen from another area of the room such as a living room or dining area.

L-Shaped Kitchens

An L-Shaped kitchen is laid out in an approximate ‘L’ shape; with two adjoining walls homing all the cabinetry, appliances and major work surfaces. The other two walls of the room remain open and often a freestanding kitchen island or dining table sits between all four walls to centre off the feeling of the room. The length of the L’s ‘legs’ can vary and it may be that both are the same size; more attuned to a block capital.

U-Shaped Kitchens

Our final alphabet-themed kitchen design is the U-Shaped kitchen. Often more akin to a slightly more squared shape than a U, this design sees three adjoining walls housing all of the major work surfaces and areas. U-Shaped kitchens are common in mid-sized homes or larger properties aimed at family living; where often a seating area is installed on the free wall or as an island feature.

Kitchen Islands and Peninsulas

Kitchen island units are now fairly commonplace and sit as a standalone ‘floating’ worktop that isn’t connected to another area of the room. Kitchen islands provide extra countertop work surfaces as well as clever storage solutions and are often used as high tables with stools or seats along one side. Kitchen peninsulas are a similar feature but are attached at one end to other units.

Kitchen Layout Spacing

There’s a definite misconception that kitchen islands and peninsulas are only suitable for larger homes but in truth, such additions are subject to clever spacing. When consideration is made to the space between the countertops and island units, there’s plenty of scope for even the smallest of kitchens to have something installed.
A fundamental consideration is the space between worktops and the island unit. This should be large enough that you can not just stand at either and prepare food with plenty of room to move but also that anyone in the house can physically walk through the space without causing too much disruption.
Ideally, a room should be 4mx4m minimum to provide decent bypass and room to stand and work. The standard passage walkway is usually a metre around at least two sides of the kitchen island; so even if it’s not roomy on all sides, it’s passable on at least a couple. If a metre is pushing it a bit, consider a kitchen peninsula as this can still provide lots of extra workable room without pressing on space too much.
If your kitchen is likely to be a social hub or there’s lots of family members gathering in there, one metre clearance may not be enough. Instead, 1m20 or 1m30 may feel more comfortable… and at least stop you all falling out as you push past each other! If there are wheelchair users in the house you may wish to extend this clearance even further for safe and easy accessibility.
If possible, a kitchen island should be situated away from opening doors – so that fridges, ovens and dishwashers don’t need to open onto it and there’s no risk of those walking past it accidentally bashing into any of the appliances.
In larger or open-plan kitchens, it’s easy to assume that a kitchen island can be pushed back far away from the main features of the rest of the room; but it’s important to maintain a kitchen ‘feel’ throughout and to zone the space appropriately. A kitchen island should be considered an extension of the room’s tangible and practical workspace and so with too much empty space around it is not just impractical but can look out of place and out of proportion. Most designers recommend that an island is situated no further than 1m30 from another main kitchen surface on at least one side – for ease of use and to reinforce its position as part of the kitchen and not any other room in the vicinity.
There’s no doubt about it: kitchen design is an art! Refresh Renovations works with the most expert of designers in this space and offer free and no-obligation home visits to scope out the potential in properties and help consult on the possibilities. Call your local Refresh office to discuss what you could achieve with yours!

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