An important consideration in open-plan space is flow. Curves are great at subtly directing traffic, keeping children away from danger spots and stopping guests from getting under your feet. The curved end of the Shaker-style unit also ensures there are no sharp corners to knock into. Heating a large space can also be costly. The best solution is to install underfloor heating for all-round ambient warmth. Knocking down walls to produce one larger, open-plan area is an ideal way to transform a cramped, dark room. Just think of all the extra light and space you could potentially gain. Use glass screens or sliding doors to separate the cooking area from the living space and consider bar stools for a relaxed eating area. As with any structural changes to your home, always contact your local planning office. Find information on the government planning site.
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.
How to plan a kitchen layout. In most cases, the size and shape of your room will determine the most suitable design, and it's always helpful to consider the classic ‘working triangle'. This concept is designed to minimise effort and walking distance between the sink, fridge and cooker by placing them on three points of a triangle. This approach works with most kitchen layouts, although, if you have to run all the appliances and the sink along one wall, you may need to ‘flatten' the triangle. To do this, position the three points in a line with just a few steps to walk in between. However, nothing is set in stone. ‘If the triangle works in your kitchen that's great, but don't feel you have to be a slave to it,' says kitchen designer Mark Wilkinson. ‘If you have to walk a few extra steps, it will be worth it if it means you're able to include an extra element you really like that wouldn't otherwise fit into the design.
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