An important consideration in open-plan space is flow. Curves are great at subtly directing traffic, keeping children away from danger spots and stopping guests from getting under your feet. The curved end of the Shaker-style unit also ensures there are no sharp corners to knock into. Heating a large space can also be costly. The best solution is to install underfloor heating for all-round ambient warmth. Knocking down walls to produce one larger, open-plan area is an ideal way to transform a cramped, dark room. Just think of all the extra light and space you could potentially gain. Use glass screens or sliding doors to separate the cooking area from the living space and consider bar stools for a relaxed eating area. As with any structural changes to your home, always contact your local planning office. Find information on the government planning site.
If you're planning a larger refit or build, you may also need Planning Permission or Building Regulations approval. Visit the Planning Portal (planningportal.gov.uk) for further information. Often your budget will dictate how much project management is needed. If you're buying off the shelf from a DIY store you'd expect to have to employ and co-ordinate an variety of craftsmen including builders, plumbers and electricians. A number of mid-price kitchen companies provide fitting services but often you'll have to get them to liaise with other trades for work outside their fitting remit. Always check with your kitchen company at the start about which services they can and can't provide. Even many bespoke companies will not undertake first-fit electrics or plumbing so you will have to co-ordinate these elements yourself. Some of the high-end bespoke companies do offer ‘turn key' services, where they will co-ordinate all building plumbing and electrical work but be prepared to pay a premium for this service.
Are there any alternatives to the working triangle? Like Mark Wilkinson, there are several other designers who feel that the triangle can be too rigid and who prefer to think of the kitchen in terms of zones. ‘Blum's Dynamic Space' concept is based on arranging your layout as task zones designed in a clockwise (or anti-clockwise) route. Tasks might include emptying the dishwasher (store your crockery close by), making breakfast (keep all your breakfast things together), preparing meals (utensils, chopping boards and bins in pull-outs under the worktop), cooking (store pots, pans and utensils in a drawer under the cook top with bottles of oil and spices in a pull-out close by), and cleaning (materials for cleaning close to the sink). With everything close to hand, you can then create the most convenient workflow.
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