Often, it's not possible to get rid of structural pillars,' says Scott Nicholson, ‘but sometimes you can move them, and even shifting by half a metre can have a huge impact in some rooms. You can usually convert something negative into a positive feature if you deal with it imaginatively – try building a pillar into an island to create an architectural feature, for example. L-shaped and t-shaped rooms can be effectively split into zones, dedicating one leg to dining or storage, and keeping the working kitchen in the other. If you buy a property with curved walls, such as an oast house, it's usually because you like its style – ‘so make the most of its quirkiness with cabinets that follow the curves,' Scott advises. Even if this means that you have to buy more expensive bespoke furniture, you may not need a large amount of it to create a dramatic effect.
An island unit has lots to bring to a kitchen design. It can provide extra prep space and form a boundary between the cooking zone and the living/dining area. A shaped island unit can also help direct the flow of traffic away from busy hotspots. Functions aside, the change of pace offered by a kitchen island often encourages a variation in material. You can afford to be braver here with a bolder finish or colour, or perhaps a more expensive material that would be prohibitive across an entire room. An island will define a kitchen, forming a division between dining and living spaces. For this reason, at least the facing part of the island should be in warm and welcoming materials to make a transition from efficient kitchen surfaces.
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.
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