Are you dreaming of a brand new kitchen? Then read our top ten steps for planning and designing that fabulous kitchen you’ve set your heart on. 

There is so much to think about when designing your perfect own kitchen – but before leaping into action and choosing the first design you come across, it’s vital to give proper consideration to what you really want. 

A new kitchen is one of the most exciting projects when it comes to renovating the home, but can equally be the most expensive, stressful and time-consuming. There is so much to consider, from picking the right style to finding a designer and agreeing the layout. It’s therefore of paramount importance to take your time to plan your kitchen step by step. Think of planning your ideal kitchen as a journey, in which every step has to be thought through. If you would like some pointers on your journey from inspiration to installation, then read on.

1. Know exactly what your new kitchen does and doesn’t need

The first task is to have a thorough clear-out. Get rid of those things you haven’t used for years. Now, look around your present kitchen and decide what you like and dislike about it. Make a list. This will help you focus on what you want to keep and what you want to ditch or improve. Things to consider include: the colour scheme, the storage space, how handily this storage is placed and what appliances you do and don’t need.

Now think about whether the kitchen space actually works and whether it needs opening up or extending. Many people consider knocking down a wall between the kitchen and dining room to create a home with a more open plan feel.

Ask yourself a few questions about how you want to use the space. Are you looking for somewhere just to prepare meals, or a place where you can also have lunch or dinner with family and friends? There are three simple questions to ask yourself: who do you cook for, what do you cook and how do you cook it?

2. What are your kitchen must-haves?

Do you need any specific appliances in the kitchen to make  life easier? More cupboards for storage? Sleek worktops?

Everyone has their own particular way of working and a different list of priorities. Write yours down right at the very start to make sure your kitchen is designed to meet the specific needs of you and your family. This will also save a great deal of time and effort when you decide to discuss your project with a specialist.

3. Consider lighting options

A flexible system is important when considering lighting options, so that different areas of your kitchen can be regulated independently. Think carefully about secondary lighting, for example above the cooking and preparation areas. Ask yourself where you need powerful lights for delicate food preparation or reading?

4. Work out plumbing and heating options

Will your new kitchen use the existing plumbing for sinks and appliances or will it need additional pipe work? Are you planning a kitchen island containing a sink or other appliances? If so, make sure the plumbing and electricity supplies are in place before the flooring is laid. Also, if the new kitchen is to have the plug points where you need them, plan where you are going to put the appliances.

Underfloor heating is becoming an increasingly popular choice for kitchens. If you want to install this, then it will obviously need to be done before laying the kitchen floor.

5. Now be inspired

The look of your kitchen is a very personal choice. Make a scrapbook of cuttings taken from magazines. Don’t worry too much about cost at this stage. Focus on the things and colours that inspire you and identify styles you are drawn to.

6. Consult a kitchen designer

A professional kitchen designer can help you get the maximum from your space. Their experience and expertise will offer you plenty of innovative ideas you might not have even considered. Kitchen designers have up-to-date knowledge of products, fixtures and fittings, and will be able to source everything especially for you. Their job is to ensure your new kitchen works as efficiently as possible.

Once the designer has looked at the space, agree on a quote for the design and installation of the kitchen. When the design has been completed, get a full quotation for the cabinetry and installation. Check what is included in the cost, including whether the company will oversee the project from start to finish.

7. Set your budget 

Be honest about your budget. This will help your designer help you decide where you might be able to save and where you could invest. 

Only invest in things you think you’ll genuinely use. It’s easy to lose your head when faced with a wealth of shiny appliances with countless programs and functions. Therefore, only invest in things you think you’ll genuinely use. And don’t forget to include installation fees.

Finally, make sure your budget includes a 10 per cent contingency fund, to cover any unexpected extra costs.

8. Tips on where to save and where to spend

If are unsure about where to splash the cash, then we have a few ideas about where to spend and where to save.

If you intend to be economical, then open shelving is less expensive than closed cupboards, for example. You’ll also find that low-level, pull-out storage means you need fewer wall units, thus saving on cost.

Always go for the best worktops you can afford, as they are one of the most hardworking elements of any kitchen. Granite, composite and solid surfaces are all good investments as they are tough, durable and will give your kitchen a luxurious finish.

Make sure your cabinets are good quality. Don’t skimp on thin options, as they won’t last very long. You should have at least an inch or more of thickness all round.

Consider savings on your choice of doors. Rich wood veneers can be expensive. However, the same look can be created with a laminate or PVC foil finish. 

Spend wisely on appliances. Consider buying the best oven and hob you can afford. However, you’ll probably find you could do without the coffee machine and wine cooler. Compromise if your budget is under strain. Make sure you spend on the things that matter: luxury small appliances and accessories can be bought in years to come when you are able to afford them.

9. Call in the professionals

Now you’ve found your kitchen designer, chosen your layout and style and paid your deposit. What next? You need to find some professionals to install it.

Remember that the way your kitchen is installed will make all the difference. A bad fitter can make a kitchen look terrible. However, a good one will ensure even inexpensive units look amazing. 

Ask friends and family for recommendations, or source a skilled tradesman through a registered trade association, such as the FMB (Federation of Master Builders). If it’s a big project, then there might be builders, electricians and plumbers to consider. At this stage, it’s important to get a project manager, whether that’s yourself, your kitchen company or an architect. Everyone needs to be crystal clear about what needs to be done as delays and mistakes in kitchen planning can be costly.

You may also need Planning Permission or Building Regulations approval. Visit the Planning Portal (planningportal.gov.uk) for further information.

Your budget will dictate how much project management is needed. If buying off the shelf from a DIY store, you may have to employ and coordinate a variety of craftsmen including builders, plumbers and electricians. A number of kitchen companies provide fitting services but often you’ll have to get them to liaise with other trades for work outside their fitting remit. Check with your kitchen company at the start about which services they do and don’t provide.

Some bespoke companies will not undertake first-fit electrics or plumbing, so you may have to coordinate such work yourself. If a high-end company offers to coordinate all building, plumbing and electrical work for you, be prepared to pay a premium price.

10. Now choose your finishing touches

Your kitchen can be made to feel more coherent by subtly linking finishes. A timber breakfast bar will go well with wooden stools, for example. Rather than buying everything from the same supplier, it can be a good idea to source furnishings and accessories from a variety of places, mixing things up to create an individual look. Also, unusual objects picked up on your travels or vintage items picked up at antique shops will all help create a more homely environment that is full of character.

ALL KITCHENS PICTURED ARE MADE BY SCAVOLINI

Colin Clarke
Author: Colin Clarke