Island kitchen layout. What is it? Probably the most popular kitchen element of recent years, an island sits in the centre of a room, with worktops on the surrounding walls. If the space is large enough, an island unit provides a multifunctional space that can work as somewhere to cook, prep, eat and entertain. It can act as a ‘bridge', cutting down on leg work between workstations, and, in a large room, it makes the most of unused space. Consider incorporating a hob and sink as well as a dishwasher, wine cooler and recycling bin. There should be plenty of room left over for decent storage, too. Make sure there's at least one metre between the island and all the cabinetry surrounding it, so that you can open all doors and drawers.
Kitchen designers will also have up-to-the-minute knowledge of products, fixtures and fittings, and can source everything on your behalf. Ultimately, they'll help ensure your new kitchen works as efficiently as possible. Only agree on a quote for the design and installation of a kitchen once the designer has looked at the space. Once the design has been completed, make sure you have a full quotation for the cabinetry and installation. Always check what is included in the cost, including whether the company will oversee the project from start to finish.
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.
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