The U-shaped kitchen is probably the most practical of kitchen layouts and can provide an additional run of potential storage or appliance space compared with a galley kitchen or L-shaped kitchen. U-shaped kitchens can work in large spaces, but even small kitchens can benefit from a U-shaped design. Just be sure you have at least two metres of moving-around space between the opposite banks of units. The design concept of the ‘golden triangle' is a natural fit with a U shape: when designing your space, keep your fridge, cooker and/or hob and sink between 120cm and 270cm away from each other. This will make for a practical, time-efficient and safe use of your space, something that is harder to achieve in longer, L-shaped or galley kitchens, for example.
Extend a worktop to form a worktop-level breakfast bar and the third side of a U-shaped kitchen. Like a peninsula, a breakfast bar can extend a kitchen space out into the centre of a room, free from any walls. Integrate kitchen and living areas with the use of a single floor treatment and by introducing elements of kitchen storage outside the boundaries of the kitchen. Here open shelves store a collection of wine and water glasses. Even a long narrow space can be home to a U-shaped kitchen: just fit one or two units at right angles at each end of your main bank of storage. This forms a very shallow U shape, but a U shape nonetheless and it's a design that defines the practical kitchen area from the wider eating and entertaining area beyond. The play of hi-gloss cabinet fronts and veneer carcases helps to further define this division. In this U-shaped kitchen, a wide window is the central anchor point of the scheme, filling the space with light and showing off matt-finish units, rich wood and glazed tiles in their best light. The use of wood finishes on the floor and worktops brings a warmth and cosiness to an otherwise pale decorating scheme and adds a rustic edge.
Be inspired, how you want your kitchen to look is, of course, a very personal choice. It really helps to collect images and magazine tear sheets and put together a scrapbook or mood board. Also, make a note of surfaces, materials or accessories you've seen that work well together. Even something as simple as a pretty plate, tile, piece of furniture or scrap of fabric can be a great starting point for choosing a theme or colours. Don't worry too much about cost at this point, just focus on things that inspire you, and soon you'll be able to identify styles you are drawn to. Consult a kitchen designer. To get the absolute maximum from your space, input from a professional kitchen designer can prove invaluable. Their experience and expertise will offer you plenty of simple ideas – as well as innovative ones – that you might not have even considered.
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