Modern warehouse spaces and loft apartments are ideal candidates for an open-plan kitchen. Follow the lead of existing finishes such as exposed-brick walls or vast utilitarian windows, choosing an oversized island in proportion to the space. Blocky designs and work-like materials such as stainless steel can be softened with muted colours and touches of wood to create a sensitive design that can hold its own in the space and feel inviting. If you love to entertain, a kitchen-dining room is a practical solution, allowing you to be part of the action with your guests, not shut away in a cramped kitchen. Design your space accordingly. Here, super-sleek units conceal most of the working elements of the kitchen, providing a smart and uncluttered backdrop to a modern rustic dining area.
For a show-stopping centrepiece look to luxury materials, from deeply veined marble and mottled granites to exotic timber veneers and gleaming mirrored glass or burnished metal. There's a trend towards more textured materials, think raw or rough-sawn wood, honed or flamed stone tops, as well as a contrast of colour or finish between the island and the rest of the kitchen. And don't forget kitchen island lighting – it can turn a good-looking unit into a showstopper of a kitchen centrepiece. Want more design inspiration? Take a look at these showstopping kitchen ideas and our pick of the best kitchen storage ideas Almost all kitchen islands incorporate seating – even the smallest space can usually accommodate an overhang of worktop and a pair of bar stools, although more of us are opting for long kitchen islands with integrated low-level, table-style seating at one end.
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.
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