Breaking the planning process into manageable steps will make the process easier. Think of it as a journey, and give each step all the time and consideration it needs. Whether this is your first, or you need a little help with planning your second or even third design, then read on. First, have a good clear-out, so you're not factoring in items you haven't used for years. Now take a look around your existing kitchen and make a list of all the things you like and dislike about it. This could be anything from how much storage there is – and where it is – to the types of appliances and colour of the cabinetry. This will help you focus on retaining or improving particular aspects. Think about whether the actual space works or if it needs opening up or extending. The most common building work involves knocking down a wall between kitchen and dining room, so consider creating a more open plan feel if you have the chance. It might help to ask yourself a few questions about how you want to use the space. Do you simply need a place to prepare meals, or are you dreaming of a multifunctional area where you can also have lunch or dinner with family and friends? Who do you cook for, what do you cook and how do you cook it?
Inject refined rustic style into your kitchen with painted wooden cabinetry. In a traditional space, use painted wood to co-ordinate kitchen cabinets with walls and architectural features; in a contemporary scheme, to soften the sharp edges of minimalist design. Go for a mid to deep grey shade, like this one, as it oozes easy elegance and sophistication. Where space isn't an issue an L-shape ending with a central island unit provides informal dining space for the family or a place to chat with friends over coffee. Keep the cooking and kitchen chores tightly together in an L and let the rest of a large room be given over to family life. Add personality and character with quirky signage and curios. Lack of size does not have to mean lack of style.
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.
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