Call in the professionals. So, you've found your kitchen designer, chosen your layout and style and you've paid your deposit. What happens next? You need to find a team to install it. It's important to remember that the way your kitchen is installed can make all the difference. A bad fitter can make any kitchen look terrible, but a good one will ensure even inexpensive units look amazing. Ask friends and family for recommendations, or source a skilled person through a registered trade association, such as the FMB (Federation of Master Builders). It may be a simple refresh so you'll only have the kitchen supplier and fitter to co-ordinator. However, if it's a big project, then there might be builders, electricians and plumbers to consider, too. It's important at this stage to get some form of project manager in hand, whether that's yourself, your kitchen company or an architect. Everyone need to be clear about what needs to be done when, as delays and mistakes in kitchen planning can be costly.
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.
How to plan a kitchen layout. In most cases, the size and shape of your room will determine the most suitable design, and it's always helpful to consider the classic ‘working triangle'. This concept is designed to minimise effort and walking distance between the sink, fridge and cooker by placing them on three points of a triangle. This approach works with most kitchen layouts, although, if you have to run all the appliances and the sink along one wall, you may need to ‘flatten' the triangle. To do this, position the three points in a line with just a few steps to walk in between. However, nothing is set in stone. ‘If the triangle works in your kitchen that's great, but don't feel you have to be a slave to it,' says kitchen designer Mark Wilkinson. ‘If you have to walk a few extra steps, it will be worth it if it means you're able to include an extra element you really like that wouldn't otherwise fit into the design.
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