Try changing decor to demarcate the separate dining, lounging, cooking and office areas in a multifunctional space. ‘This can be achieved by using different floor finishes, paint colours and lighting in each of the zones,' says Robert Burnett, head of design at Holloways of Ludlow. ‘Don't forget, you can always strategically position a wall, or include a room divider such as a half-height wall or storage unit, to help screen off certain areas,' advises Scott Nicholson, MD of Chamber Furniture. ‘It does need to be carefully placed so as not to block out light, but we are using these features very successfully in an increasing number of our designs. Not all kitchens are standard cubes or rectangles. Some are glass boxes with limited wall space, others have sloping ceilings, while you may also have tricky features to work around such as pillars or numerous entrance doors. An experienced kitchen designer will have come across all these sorts of problems before, so do ask them for advice.
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.
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.
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