Granite, composite and solid surfaces are all good investments as they are tough, durable and will give your kitchen a luxurious finish. Next, make sure your cabinets are of good quality. Don't be tempted to skimp on thin carcasses, as they'll not last very long. You want at least a 15mm thickness all round – if not more. Think about savings on your choice of doors. We can't all afford rich wood veneers, so why not recreate the same look with a laminate or PVC foil finish instead? Even hi-gloss doors come in different price brackets depending on whether they are lacquered or laminated. ‘While they all essentially look the same, a lacquered kitchen can cost considerably more than the laminate equivalent,' explains kitchen designer Paul Bagguley from In-Toto Batley. Spend wisely on appliances, too, buying the best oven and hob you can afford – but perhaps consider a less expensive brand for the laundry and do without the coffee machine and wine cooler. It's all about compromise if your budget is under strain, so make sure you spend on the things that matter – you can always add luxury small appliances and accessories in years to come.
Design tips Try to separate the cooking zone from the wet area with a length of worktop in between – the worktop in total should be at least three metres long. Aim for at least 1.2m between facing doors and include an efficient triangular cooking zone with the fridge on one wall and the sink and hob opposite (or a variation on this theme). if space allows, it's best to avoid having tall units which might accentuate the narrow space. For the same reason, stick to paler colours to help keep the room light and airy. Be careful not to install too many wall cupboards, as it may make your kitchen feel cluttered. hy choose it? It's the ideal layout for narrow rooms, but is also a popular option in open-plan spaces where a long island runs parallel to the units along one wall. Though it's traditionally long and narrow, it can be exceptionally functional if planned correctly.
Breaking the planning process into manageable steps will make the process easier. Think of it as a journey, and give each step all the time and consideration it needs. Whether this is your first, or you need a little help with planning your second or even third design, then read on. First, have a good clear-out, so you're not factoring in items you haven't used for years. Now take a look around your existing kitchen and make a list of all the things you like and dislike about it. This could be anything from how much storage there is – and where it is – to the types of appliances and colour of the cabinetry. This will help you focus on retaining or improving particular aspects. Think about whether the actual space works or if it needs opening up or extending. The most common building work involves knocking down a wall between kitchen and dining room, so consider creating a more open plan feel if you have the chance. It might help to ask yourself a few questions about how you want to use the space. Do you simply need a place to prepare meals, or are you dreaming of a multifunctional area where you can also have lunch or dinner with family and friends? Who do you cook for, what do you cook and how do you cook it?
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