Try changing decor to demarcate the separate dining, lounging, cooking and office areas in a multifunctional space. ‘This can be achieved by using different floor finishes, paint colours and lighting in each of the zones,' says Robert Burnett, head of design at Holloways of Ludlow. ‘Don't forget, you can always strategically position a wall, or include a room divider such as a half-height wall or storage unit, to help screen off certain areas,' advises Scott Nicholson, MD of Chamber Furniture. ‘It does need to be carefully placed so as not to block out light, but we are using these features very successfully in an increasing number of our designs. Not all kitchens are standard cubes or rectangles. Some are glass boxes with limited wall space, others have sloping ceilings, while you may also have tricky features to work around such as pillars or numerous entrance doors. An experienced kitchen designer will have come across all these sorts of problems before, so do ask them for advice.
With no walls to obstruct light or views, open-plan spaces usually have a great sense of flow. But large rooms demand just as much care in the planning as small spaces. The working part of the kitchen in particular needs to function ergonomically. Where possible, adhere to the classic work triangle between sink, fridge and hob to cut down on footwork, using an island to help shorten these distances where necessary. White hi-gloss units work perfectly in this modern open-plan, monochrome scheme. When it comes to style, built-in stainless-steel appliances have a professional look, while fully integrated models are concealed behind matching cabinet doors for a streamlined effect. Consider noise levels and looks when choosing appliances, and look for appliances with decibel levels under 39dB. Keep worktops clear and hide clutter away with clever storage solutions.
Think about plumbing and heating. Will you be using existing plumbing for sinks and appliances or will you require additional pipe work? If you're planning to include a kitchen island containing a sink or other appliances in your design, you need to ensure that plumbing and electricity supplies are in place before flooring is laid. Work out where appliances, both big and small, are going to be to ensure that you have plug points where you need them. ‘Wherever you decide to locate your sink, it's a good idea to install your washing machine and dishwasher nearby,' says Paul Gibbs, Kitchens Buying Manager, B&Q. ‘It'll help keep plumbing simple.' Underfloor heating is a popular choice for kitchens as radiators can take up valuable space. If you're opting for underfloor heating, this will need to be installed prior to laying the kitchen floor.
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