Breaking the rules

Julia Kendell, interior designer for the Homebuilding & Renovating Show, offers her tips on which kitchen design rules can be broken.

First of all, ignore the kitchen work triangle ‘rule’. This concept of ensuring minimal movement between the cooker, sink and fridge is a 100-year-old idea that is totally out of date now that we have a multitude of appliances, much larger kitchens and, thankfully, women are no longer required to spend 12 hours a day in the kitchen performing necessary and basic tasks.

Think instead about the relationship between areas and the appliances you use for specific tasks. Work out how you move around your own kitchen and what tasks you would like to simplify. Enjoy making bread regularly? Then set up a dedicated bread-making area close to the sink and the oven with everything you need close to hand. Want to encourage healthy eating habits? Have a kids’ juicing station near the fruit bowl and the fridge with powdered supplements, seeds and nuts at hand. Well-functioning areas dedicated to particular tasks will encourage those activities.

As a top tip, if you have a larger kitchen then consider a separate tea, coffee-making and drinks station away from the main cooking area to keep the rest of the family from under the chef’s feet. If you have the space, this could include a separate boiling water tap and even a small fridge for milk and cold drinks.

Secondly, it is important to realise that you likely don’t need as much kitchen storage as you think you do. Most people designing new kitchens ask for more storage, but if you look through your drawers and cabinets you will unlikely to be moving your yellowing plastic containers, chipped crockery and unused gadgets into your brand-new kitchen.

Be very clear about what you really need and how you want to store it to make life easier. Keep small appliances plugged in ready to use, perhaps hidden in a worktop unit with bi-fold doors. Position your crockery and cutlery drawers next to the dishwasher and remember that the larder is back in fashion. Larders are the classic storage unit with shallow shelves which keep everything you need at the front and a door which closes to keep items out of view when you don’t need them.

Finally, if you love a kitchen island and you have the room, put in more than one. Everyone I speak to wants a kitchen island and these are getting larger, often incorporating mega (350 cm by 190 cm) join-free work surfaces. But if you have the room, take a tip from commercial kitchens, and consider having two or three islands dedicated to different tasks such as food preparation, serving up or being social. But think twice before designing your sink into an island. No matter how clean and tidy you are, sinks, by their nature, can be grubby areas and it doesn’t make sense to make one the focus of the kitchen.

If you have a small kitchen and are struggling to fit in an island and a table, having a bench seat incorporated into the back of the island gives seating along one side of the table. This reduces the space required by one thoroughfare’s width and can be the difference between having a successful layout and not.

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