How To Design Your Own Kitchen
Fitting the various individual components of the kitchen into your outline is an exact, and exacting, process in which guesswork shouldn’t feature. Prepare card or plastic cut-outs, or templates, of every major item. These should be carefully drawn to scale.
Among your cut-outs will be one each for the sink, stove, and refrigerator; and others for the different shapes and sizes of storage units and work surfaces. Depending on the nature and extent of your scheme, you may need templates of a table, bench, chairs, dishwasher, microwave oven, freezer and washing machine. Move these around the floor plan and shuffle the combinations. If part of the essential jigsaw doesn’t fit comfortably, start from the beginning again rather than puzzle yourself into a frustrated frenzy.
Fitting In The Appliances
Establish the precise work triangle with your sink, stove and refrigerator. When you have a configuration you like, juggle with the minor appliances, deciding which are to be free-standing and which built-in. This decision will make a great deal of difference to your layout, affecting the kitchen’s storage capacity and the arrangement of its working surfaces. Pay careful attention to the details: how will the doors and drawers open? Will the dishwasher door interfere with the under-sink storage door? Is the microwave oven conveniently placed? Bear in mind that these are always hinged on the left. When you have the arrangement you want, apply it, with precision, to the plan.
Fitting In The Work Surfaces
Having positioned the appliances, plot the layout of the countertops. These come in a range of standard widths and, generally speaking, provide the practical links between your major appliances, allowing you room for food preparation and washing up. If space is a problem, experiment with combinations of uses to which you can put a particular work surface. You could, for example, consider installing pull-out counters or think about space-saving corner units. A lot can be achieved with a little ingenuity.
The two essentials: Firstly, you’ll need plenty of elbow-room to the right and left of the sink, even if you intend installing a dishwasher. Secondly, you’ll need as much working space as possible on each side of the stove – not only as temporary accommodation for hot food and plates, but for slicing, pastry-making, salad-mixing and the many food preparation tasks.
These are the most important work areas, but the fridge comes a close third. If possible, try to fit in a small surface to hold items taken from the fridge.
The heights of the work surfaces are determined, for obvious reasons, by the height of the cook. Surfaces should generally be about 75 mm below the elbow for comfort, but work-tops needed for special jobs involving downward pressure – mixing or rolling, for example – should be at least some 75 mm to I00 mm lower. Bear in mind that many built-in appliances are designed for countertops at the ‘average’ below-elbow height. A standard height for counters in 900 mm. The width of the units is also extremely important – just a few centimetres can make a lot of difference to the capacity of work surfaces.
Also make sure you plan for enough working space for each essential kitchen task.
Fitting in The Units
These are the last of the major components to be incorporated. Here – and to a degree also in the selection and positioning of appliances – height and width are as important as depth.
It is important to try to determine you requirements as accurately as you can, using achecklist as a reference. Consider each working area in turn: decide what needs to be stored, and where. How much base and wall storage space do you want around the sink? In the vicinity of the stove? Where should the dry goods be stored and what about cleaning material and equipment? Do you prefer to hang utensils on the wall or to tuck them away in a base unit? Do you prefer open shelving to cabinets?
A small hint that could make a big difference to general working efficiency: over estimate your storage needs at the planning stage. Kitchens tend to accumulate equipment and oddments over the years, so having worked out how much storage space you think you’ll require to begin with, add 10 to 20 per cent to the figure.