Designing a new kitchen is fuelled by questions. There’s a huge amount to ask yourself and your designer the whole way through the process to make sure it’s everything you want it to be (and more). We know this can be overwhelming, so we posed some of your most frequently asked questions to kitchen designers from our Bristol, Edgbaston, and Weybridge stores.
Q: How can I fit all the elements on my wishlist into the space I have? It seems like an impossible feat.
Your kitchen designer will always try to make the seemingly impossible possible. It’s amazing what clever layouts can do. It’s helpful, though, to create two wishlists – one for the parts that are for aesthetic reasons, and another that’s all about function. Then, rank them in order of priority. It’s a process that really helps you to determine which are the genuine must-haves and which are the nice-to-haves. Kitchen designers aren’t magicians – if you have a small cottage kitchen and you want an island, a double larder, and huge pan drawers, that might be pushing it – but we will try our best!
Q: I want to keep the walls free so my kitchen feels as spacious as possible, but how can I make sure I've got enough storage without wall cabinets?
Drawers are your first point of call. When I’m designing, drawers are always at the front of my mind because they’re far easier to use and can fit a great deal inside. We’re so used to seeing glassware or crockery in wall cabinets, but it really doesn’t have to be that way. Inside a drawer is a worthy option.
The other storage element that I’ll usually suggest if there’s space is a larder or a freestanding dresser. They look beautiful and give you mountains of storage space. A countertop cabinet is another good option. Yes, they cover some of your wall space, but because they sit on the work surface rather than suspended on the wall, they look much less boxy.
Lastly, floating shelves are a great way to make a feature out of your storage.
In brief, there’s nothing to be worried about. We can work storage into a room in a whole host of ways.
Q: What's the standard size for a kitchen island?
We get asked this all the time, but honestly, there’s no such thing. Sizes vary between kitchen companies, and most places will offer lots of different sizes. Figuring out the right size shouldn’t be your task, though – your kitchen designer will suggest what makes the most sense for you. And it’s not just about your room’s dimensions and what can physically fit in. It’s about your whole design, what you need from your kitchen, and what makes sense to position where. For example, if you want all the action to happen at your island – from washing up and cooking to having somewhere to sit and have a glass of wine – we might suggest a larger island that’ll be able to do all of that, keeping the rest of the cabinetry for storage.
Q: I don’t want a freestanding cooker hood, but I don’t have space for one of your cooker surrounds either, are there any other options?
Your builder should be able to box in a canopy hood and then paint it in the same colour as your walls to help it blend in. You can design it to be as small or as large as you like, but we can help you with deciding on that so you can be sure it’ll suit the style of your kitchen and the room’s architecture. For example, if you’ve chosen Chichester, we might suggest adding a cornice to the bottom edge to tie it back into the rest of the kitchen. Leaving it blank results in a much more contemporary look.
Q: I’m desperate to have a clutter-free work surface. I’ve thought about how I can hide away most things but have no idea where I could put my kettle and toaster so that they’re still easy to access. Help!
Three words: bi-fold countertop cabinet. Countertop cabinets do exactly as they say – they sit directly on top of your work surface. They’re much more spacious than a wall cabinet and they’re more of a feature. When you open the bi-folding doors (another lovely feature that saves on space), you’ll see that the worktop runs into the cabinet instead of having a base shelf. This means that you can keep things like toasters, kettles, coffee machines, or mixers on your work surface, plugged in and easy to use, but they’ll be hidden when you aren’t using them. Some people like to turn these cabinets into a mini breakfast larder, with teas, coffees, cereals, bowls and so forth on the shelves above.
Q: I want to pull together my kitchen, living room, and dining room so I have one big living space, but I don’t want it to feel like your standard open plan living. What do you suggest?
Colour is so important. It’s not a case of needing to use the same shade the whole way through, but you absolutely need to consider the entire palette otherwise the connected spaces end up looking disparate. You can use subtly different colours or ones that are a complete contrast, so long as they’re tonal and are planned together as a whole scheme.
The flooring is also a key part of designing one living space. Using continuous planks of timber is what I suggest most often, because it’s practical and warming so makes sense for living and relaxing. Layer rugs throughout to soften things and to help the kitchen feel more in tune with the living area.
And remember, the positioning of furniture is just as important as choosing furniture. Dining tables, for example, always look their best when placed near a window or doors onto the garden. You need to think about lighting the surrounding area with a few table lamps and perhaps a single floor lamp – people often put a pendant light over their table, but this means your table must remain in that position, and it’ll compete for attention with any pendants you might have over an island. If you want a soft seating section, that can happily go at the opposite end where a view onto the garden isn’t quite as necessary. There are no hard and fast rules, but these tips might help you prioritise your space.
Q: I want to keep my current freestanding washing machine and tumble dryer, but I want them hidden away. How can I do that without having to get integrated models instead?
You’ve got two options there. Firstly, you can have it factored into your run of cabinetry – we do ones that can house most standard machines. Even if yours isn’t standard, our bespoke workshop can always create a cabinet to suit your dimensions. The other option, which I think is far better, is one of our laundry cabinets. Unlike the base cabinet we talked about in the first idea, this cabinet has been specifically designed to take two machines – one on top of the other – with ventilation chambers built into the back and top. It means your machines aren’t taking up double the floor space. If you’ve got the room, it’s always nice for us to create a small laundry room in a neighbouring utility with a few of our other laundry designs, like the broom cupboard (my personal favourite) and perhaps one of the washing basket cabinets.
Q: I'm hoping for a kitchen that looks calm and orderly. What are your top tips for helping me achieve that?
One of the best ways to make your kitchen feel calmer is by having as few appliances and objects on the work surface as you can. I’ll often talk to clients about integrating a microwave and coffee machine into a cabinet, replacing a kettle with a hot water tap, and – as Becky suggests – bi-fold countertop cabinets are perfect for hiding juicers, blenders, and toasters.
Should you want to bring in decorative pieces or artwork, dedicate a small shelving section to nothing but pictures and a beautiful vase or two. This way it has a specific function and will help you to resist using it as storage space. Things start to get cluttered when parts of your kitchen are multi-use.
Q: What's better – Silestone or quartz?
They’re one and the same thing. The only difference is Silestone is the name of a brand, but their product is quartz. Sometimes people ask if Corian is the same as well, but it’s not and it’s nowhere near as durable as quartz. There are numerous other quartz worktop specialists, but we use Silestone. Their choice of finishes is quite extensive, they have a 25-year guarantee, and the quality is superb.
Q: What colours do your kitchens come in?
Every one of our 28 shades from our core palette. On top of that, we have our seasonal collection, giving you a total choice of over 50 colours. Every collection has a standard painted finish that we think suits it best, but you don’t have to go for it, it’s just a suggestion. Our bespoke paint finish is an additional cost, but we can explain the pricing when looking at your design.
If you’d like to talk to one of our kitchen designers about your kitchen project, you can book a free consultation online or in one of our stores. Find your closest here.