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Lovin’ the Kitchen - tips on effective kitchen design.

I bet if I were to guess which part of your house you spend most time in, it would be the kitchen. And that’s not because you’re a budding Gordon Ramsay or Nigella Lawson. Kitchens nowadays have to serve many purposes - from family gathering places to kids play areas. Particularly during this colder months, the warmth and smells in the kitchen make it such a comforting place to be.04-12-2012

The Kitchen is also one room that can really help sell a property - get it right and you’ll add thousands to the value. 

But having a ‘great kitchen’ doesn’t mean forking out a small fortune on designer, custom made cabinets. What makes a good kitchen is in the design.
So how can you plan a kitchen to best suit your needs?
• Firstly, think about what you are going to be using your kitchen for? Aside from preparing and cooking food will it be a place for entertaining, eating, homework, working or watching TV. This will dictate the best design.
• Plan a ‘work triangle’. This is where you have the sink, cooker and fridge in easy reach of one another as three points of a triangle. This means that when you’re cooking, you’ll be in ‘the zone’ with everything in easy reach.
• Make sure you have enough worktop space – particularly near the cooker and microwave. This is important for safety. Try to get your microwave inbuilt - they take up masses of worktop space and are unsightly.
• If you’ve got enough room, an island is a good idea – it can act as a food prep area and breakfast bar. Finish it off with groovy bar stools – trust me, it will be where everyone hangs out.
• Don’t scrimp on storage space – however much you have, you’ll always fill it. The best kitchens will have plenty of eye level storage cupboards and a range of cupboards and drawers underneath. These days ‘larder’ cupboards have the contents on a rack which you can pull out making it easy to reach the stuff at the back. Similarly, deep ‘pan drawers’ are perfect for small appliances as well as heavy pots and pans.
• Use fancy storage gizmos if you can to make the most of your cupboard space. This will keep groceries, cutlery, pots and pans and your crocks neatly organised.
• Have a splashback to protect your kitchen walls from grease and water splatters. Usually this will be a tiled area above the worktop, but trendy kitchen designers now use toughened glass (which can be painted on the back to match your colour scheme) or stainless steel.
• If you can afford it and have the space, go for a range cooker or even two normal cookers side by side. Having got a larger one, you’ll wonder how you ever cooked Christmas dinner in a single oven.
• Go for no frills flooring, such as tiles or laminate as these are the easiest to clean and keep floor space clear so you’re not tripping over clutter with that boiling hot gravy.
• Incorporate a proper kitchen table - even if it’s just a small one.
• Choose a style of kitchen that is in keeping with the age and type of your home. An antique farmhouse style will look daft in a city flat. Similarly, whilst painted wood might look fantastic, it might be higher maintenance to keep clean than the modern glossy finishes. If you’ve got dog, babies or small children the cabinets will get dirty.
• Good lighting will make all the difference. There may be several different types of light in a great kitchen - overhead spotlights or down-lighters for ambient light, under cabinet task lighting as well as little lights in the kick plates at the bottom on the cabinets. If you eat or entertain in the kitchen, try and have the level of lighting adjustable so you can lower it for a more intimate atmosphere.
Cheap Ways to Update Your Kitchen

If you’re kitchen is falling apart but you can’t afford to completely replace it, there are some quick fixes that you can do.
• If your cupboards are knackered, replace just the doors and drawer fronts with new ones. This can immediately give your kitchen a new lease of life.
• If you can’t stretch to new doors get out your screwdriver and just tighten all the hinges of the existing ones so they close properly. Maybe change the handles for a new look.
• Replace the worktop – especially if yours is stained and faded.
• Ditch grotty appliances that are broken or very greasy. For a few quid you can get shiny new co-ordinating appliances that will look much better.
• De-clutter the worktops and keep them clear for food prep. Just have utensils, spices and things you use regularly out – stuff the rest into cupboards.
• Bin the bin. Dirty, overflowing bins in kitchens are a real turn off. Get a new one, keep it clean and remember to empty it before it overflows! Try and dedicate one cupboard or pull out drawer for recycling stuff.
 Kitchen Planning made easy
There are three simple stages in kitchen planning.
1. Measure your room and draw a plan of it, to scale, on graph paper. Do wall plans as well as a floor plan and draw in the location of all fixed items such as radiators and windows.
•               Measurements should be in millimetres since all kitchen units are made in metric modular sizes.
•               Measure as accurately as possible to ensure that the units fit exactly as planned.
•               Measure the ceiling height for the wall elevations.
2. List the fitments you want and add them to your plan. Safety and function should be just as important as look.
3. Rock on down to your local DIY store or kitchen supplier and choose the kitchen style you prefer. Show your drawings to them and they’ll produce CAD drawings on a computer which will give you a good impression of what the finished kitchen will look like.

Martin’s Property Clinic: Kitchen or Bathroom?
Q: I’ve only got enough money to update either my Kitchen or Bathroom.  Which one should I do? Mrs C, Plymouth.
A: Are you sure you can’t afford both? By shopping around you may be surprised at the bargains available for both rooms. Try the internet- and even the auction websites like Ebay. A builder may agree a payment plan, or a discount for doing both. If you still have to pick one- do the  kitchen.

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