A helpful way to go about this is to sit down and ask yourself: what kitchen do you like and why? Is it because they’re full of light? Playful with colour? More rustic? Once you know your own tastes, it’ll be easier not to get suckered in by the latest two-page spread.
Not enough storage
Nowhere is storage more important than in your kitchen. You not only have the daily items, such as glasses, cutlery, and plates to consider but also bigger items too. Maybe you love a gadget, a bread-maker here, a pasta machine there. To avoid losing counter-top space, make sure all these items can be put away until the time they’re needed.
If you’re worried about your space becoming overrun with cupboards, you can even consider open-shelves for your nicer items. This will help personalise your space while also serving a practical function - though watch out, as it will mean more cleaning.
Damp is a nightmare for many homeowners, so don’t forget about ventilation. Though extractor fans can look unsightly, they’re vital for keeping damp air out of the rest of your home, as well as preventing cooking smells from travelling into adjacent rooms. Therefore, we recommend you don’t cut corners on this key bit of equipment.
And, of course, don’t forget the basics. Windows are an easy source of ventilation, so make sure yours are both easy to access and open, ideally having one near your stove or other heavy use area. Skylights are the perfect solution if you plan on adding a hob to your kitchen island!
Not enough lighting
Unless you’re a bit of a daredevil, you probably want to avoid cooking in the dark. Therefore, you’ll need to think strategically when it comes to your lights. Sometimes, when a homeowner extends their kitchen, opening it up and installing a kitchen island, they forget more space requires more lights.
You’ll want a general light for the whole space and then further lighting around key areas, such as both the stove and where you do most of your chopping. And, don’t forget, the best light for both your home and wellbeing is natural light. If your budget permits, consider adding in skylights to bring plenty of light into the centre of your space. In summer, this will save you from wasting energy on what the sun does for free.
Forgetting your outside space
It’s common in the UK for the kitchen to sit towards the back of your home, next to your garden, making them natural bedfellows. We encourage you to think about how your garden can work with your kitchen. One clever way to make your kitchen feel larger is to coordinate the flooring in your kitchen with the landscape of your garden (see below). Add to this floor-to-ceiling glazed doors and your eye natural brings the two spaces together, giving the illusion your home extends out into the horizon. When the weather permits you can then open up the doors to make for the perfect BBQ party area.
Bins, bins, and more bins
Cooking is a messy business, so make sure you have plenty of space for the inevitable rubbish. If you don’t want your bins sitting out, consider adding them into your fittings, so they’re out of sight (and smell). This can also make it easier to create separate units for recycling.
You’ll also want to be mindful about their placement. Make sure they’re easy to access for when you’re cooking, to reduce the temptation of leaving off-cuts sat on the counter.
And what about taking the bins out? Is there a door to your outside or will you have to carry the waste throughout the house? Anything you can do to avoid this your future self will be grateful for.
Not enough counter space
Be practical about the space you’re going to need. At a minimum, you’ll need enough counter space for your appliances (such as a kettle and toaster) plus room for chopping and letting cooked items cool. If you’re into baking, perhaps you’ll also need a space for kneading bread or cake decorating? Keen carnivores an area for handling large cuts of meat?
Make a list of all the activities you could see yourself doing throughout the year and make sure your counters work around you, not the other way round.
The power of plugs
It’s easy to forget how much things have changed over the last few decades. Now there’s a gadget for practically every kitchen chore and you know what gadgets need? Plug-sockets.
Just as you did with the counters, go through all the appliances you like to use and where you see them going. Perhaps you’ll have some plugs in the corner for your tea, then some extras near the stove, if you like to emulsify your soups. It also can’t hurt to add a plug for inevitable phone charging.
Designing for someone else in mind
In our Happy Homes research, we discovered some homeowners were imagining a future buyer’s needs to help shape their home transformation plans. In some cases, participants were prioritising a future owner of their house even when they had no intention of selling.
When putting together your kitchen are you thinking about your needs or those of the property market? Often, when we design this way, we shape our home around what we believe should be there, not around the way we actually live. We put in breakfast bars only for the tall chairs to gather dust or we add in a formal dining area, even though your family prefers to eat elsewhere.
Rather than trying to imagine how you’re supposed to live, accept the way you actually behave. After all, it’s your home, the only family it should be tailored to is your own.
Forgetting the experts
Want to know the best way of avoid these pitfalls? Get an architect.
These experts in space will help make sure all the practical details are covered, while you simply fill them in on the big picture. By having an expert by your side, they’ll often be able to spot storage potential you missed as well as being able to show you how to get the most for your budget.
While architects do charge for their services, the quality they bring to your space and the way they help personalise it means this is money well spent and often an investment you’ll be able to recoup on the resale.
Don’t believe us? Learn for yourself the benefits an architect can bring by booking in a free consultation with our team. For anyone considering a project, we offer complimentary advice on everything from budget, timings, to planning permission.
Book yours now and leave these pitfalls in the pits!