What makes a great kitchen design today? Buildbase spoke to Sean Connolly, Design & Estimating Manager at Symphony to understand why the kitchen has become one of the most popular places in the home:
Kitchen design and planning in recent years has shifted to open plan living.
Developers and small builders now have to recognise that many homeowners want to either extend their existing kitchen and dining areas or move into new-build houses with more living space when preparing food and entertaining.
Cooking has generally become more popular and people enjoy being in the kitchen while not wanting to feel remote from the rest of the home and family. This has a major impact on kitchen design and the traditional “working triangle” and closed kitchen approach isn’t as applicable as it once was.
Today, kitchens need to integrate better with the rest of people’s homes in terms of styling and colours. The space has become much more of a social area, so there is a greater demand for kitchen furniture to facilitate that, such as islands and peninsula-style units.
So, when starting to think about kitchen design – whether you’re a builder or homebuyer/homeowner, where do you begin?
- The kitchen island
An inspirational place to start with kitchen design is the island. This becomes a focal point in the kitchen that people gravitate to and can accommodate seating. It can include some of the physical services and facilities of the kitchen, like a sink, but doesn’t have to.
Materials for islands, such as granite and quartz, are really hard-wearing, durable and allow you to create some unique shapes. Timber can be a feature too, such as a chopping block.
- Contemporary or classic design?
The kitchen market divides between two styles of kitchen: contemporary and classic.
Contemporary tends to include a series of tall units to house appliances such as the fridge, freezer, ovens, microwaves, wine coolers, etc. The rest of the kitchen is then designed around. The classic approach uses a range cooker with a mantle (the chimney breast effect) as its focal point.
To understand which way to go, it’s worth taking the time to speak to the customer and understand their requirements regarding storage, accessibility, ergonomics, etc. It’s crucial to go through this with the home owner in some level of detail and letting them know, unit by unit, what to expect and what the options are.
Today, CAD software packages and the quality of 3-D visuals are getting better all the time, so this helps people visualise exactly what their kitchen will look like.
- Planning ahead to avoid problems
Sometimes things can go wrong when a kitchen is installed. Often, it’s because something hasn’t been explained to the customer or something doesn’t look like they thought it would!
Kitchens are one of the most complicated rooms in the house but problems can be avoided by going through detailed plans and visuals ahead of the build. In other words, getting the right before you get to order stage. Also, at the point of installation, selecting the right person who understands the products is also key to a successful kitchen project.
Symphony Group works a lot with house builders and we know the key to great kitchen design is being involved from the beginning and influencing where walls, doors and windows might be. It can have a major effect on the overall kitchen design; the more information the kitchen designer can get from the builder the better when fitting the right kitchen into the right space.
Nobody should underestimate the power of the kitchen in new-build houses: kitchen sell houses, not only because of the kitchen itself but it persuades the buyer that the rest of the house has been designed well.
Clever design and cost-effective products can create a very high quality kitchen, even at the most affordable end of the market.