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.
Think about plumbing and heating. Will you be using existing plumbing for sinks and appliances or will you require additional pipe work? If you're planning to include a kitchen island containing a sink or other appliances in your design, you need to ensure that plumbing and electricity supplies are in place before flooring is laid. Work out where appliances, both big and small, are going to be to ensure that you have plug points where you need them. ‘Wherever you decide to locate your sink, it's a good idea to install your washing machine and dishwasher nearby,' says Paul Gibbs, Kitchens Buying Manager, B&Q. ‘It'll help keep plumbing simple.' Underfloor heating is a popular choice for kitchens as radiators can take up valuable space. If you're opting for underfloor heating, this will need to be installed prior to laying the kitchen floor.
Open-plan kitchens look super-sleek and also offer an extremely practical way to live. As the space is used for a variety of tasks, from cooking and dining to relaxing, working and entertaining, it creates an all-inclusive environment that's perfect for today's modern family. Accent colours are used to define individual zones and pull the scheme together. Not all open-plan kitchens are huge, but even small spaces can shine. This compact kitchen benefits from a neat layout with all mod cons close to hand. Classic cabinetry painted in a dark shade is a sophisticated choice, especially when teamed with a beautiful wood floor. The parquet running throughout gives this room the air of a Parisian apartment, and shows that small can indeed be beautiful.
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