Kitchen design is one of the most difficult areas of interior design.
No matter what renovation shows tell you, it’s the single most expensive and complex area of designing, renovating or building a home. You are balancing styles, appliances, cabinets and workspaces, each with its own need for space, stability, convenient electricity, water, drainage and personal ergonomics.
Successful kitchens need to fulfill both function and aesthetics requirements. So, they need to be laid out in a way that makes work as easy and effective as possible, but designed in a way that will be safe and beautifully finished.
The golden rule
When it comes to the practical design of a kitchen, always remember the kitchen work triangle. The most common kitchen activities are repetitive, and involve a great deal of movement between two or three of the most commonly used parts of the kitchen:
- The stove
- The sink, and
- The fridge.
Drawing a line between these three elements in a kitchen creates what’s known as the kitchen work triangle. In an ideal kitchen, you should be allowed to move completely unrestricted between these three parts of the kitchen.
The rule of thumb, when it comes to measuring out the work triangle, is that the sum of the lines in the triangle should measure at least 3.6 metres, but no greater than 8 metres. And each side of the triangle should be a minimum of 1.2 metres, but no longer than 2.7 metres.
As with anything, these rules are flexible and some designers may even take a different approach altogether from that of the kitchen work triangle.
Design principles and safety
A kitchen must conform to basic design principles, as well as some simple building regulations. It must house all the required utensils and have sufficient work areas to allow safe use of those utensils. Also, in order to meet the needs of different-sized households, certain minimum sizes must be met.
Ensuring that there aren’t any obstructions in the kitchen work triangle is one of the main safety concerns. Other important design aspects include:
- No opening windows near gas cooktops
- No curtains near the cooktop
- Install exhaust fans that discharge outside the building where possible
- Have adequate natural light and ventilation
- Safe knife storage
- Bright task lighting wherever work is done
- Adequate bench space for your needs
- Build in adequate and accessible storage space mainly drawers in the base level cabinetry and cupboard in the top level
- Integrate appliances so that they’re accessible in the work space
- Have sufficient power points (more is better)
- Position power points at a sufficient distance from water outlets, sinks and cooktops.
If possible, locate the kitchen so that children can be easily supervised in other areas – an open-plan kitchen will definitely help with this. Also give some thought to the views you’ll have through windows and doorways.
And if the kitchen opens directly to the outside, allow space for the storage of wet weather gear near the door.
Finishes, appliance selection, materials, benchtops etc. all depend on the overall design.
No matter what budget you begin with, planning a kitchen renovation is always a financial balancing act.
It’s likely that you’ll need to compromise on the cost of some features in order to make room in the budget for the features that are most important to you. But it’s important to have a sensible budget, so forget about the unrealistic figures you hear on TV as you’ll only end up disappointed.
In Australia today, you’ll need to budget between $20,000 and $45,000 for a standard kitchen or partial remodelling. And $35,000 to $75,000+ for something more premium or full re-design, with cost breaking down in approximately the following ways:
- Design fees: 4%
- Installation: 17%
- Appliances and ventilation: 14%
- Cabinetry and hardware: 29%
- Countertops: 10%
- Lighting: 5%
- Flooring: 7%
- Doors and windows: 4%
- Walls and ceilings: 5%
- Faucets and plumbing: 4%
- Other: 1%.
The kitchen may only seem like a small corner of your house, but it’s somewhere you’re likely to spend quite a bit of time, and in all likelihood, it’ll be filled to the brim with cutlery, crockery, ingredients, appliances and fittings. There’s a lot to consider when designing a kitchen – and simple design flaws can easily turn an otherwise attractive kitchen into a source of frustration or worse – a safety hazard.
Hiring a professional designer will ensure you get a first-rate kitchen built to your needs. To discuss your kitchen design contact SmartSpace Interiors here.