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.
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.
Paying attention to sight lines, traffic flow and entry and exit points at the planning stage is paramount. One of the most popular kitchen layouts, the L-shape is great for multipurpose spaces, neatly keeping the work zone restricted to one area and the rest of the space free. In a small kitchen an L shape is ideal as it concentrates all storage and appliances into two sides of the room, leaving the others free and open, so making the overall space seem bigger. Keep the colours on the lighter side so it doesn't appear too cramped. A mixture of cabinets and drawers makes housing pans, pots and general paraphernalia a breeze, while Kilner jars display pretty condiments and dried food to perfection.
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