Planning the kitchen layout
- Think about who you will use your kitchen – and
- Retain existing service points where possible
- Keep the ‘magic triangle’ of sink,
cooker and fridge
Designing a new kitchen is not as easy as it first appears
so, in an age when virtually all kitchen suppliers provide
free advice and 3-D computer-generated mock-ups, most people
simply hand over their kitchen measurements and ask to
see a plan.
You can’t opt out entirely, though, because only
you can decide what kind of kitchen you want. Will it be
fitted or free-standing? Off the shelf or bespoke? What
type of units, flooring, lighting … so many decisions
to make. However, any kitchen retailer worth his salt will
know what questions to ask before starting a design.
The kitchen is the heart of the home so while food preparation
may be the main activity it is rarely the only one. Your
lifestyle will impact on how you plan to use your kitchen – it
may also be used for laundry, dining, entertaining, socialising – even
for homework or as an office.
Single people and childless couples will have different
requirements from families with small offspring. Similarly,
the needs of those who dine out frequently will differ
greatly from those of families who take all their meals
together at home.
Whatever your lifestyle, though, the physical dimensions
of your kitchen will, to some extent, determine what equipment
you have and where you put it. Remember not to overfill
small kitchens – these should have a simple, uncluttered
look unless you want permanent claustrophobia.
Among your first decisions is where to site your sink,
drainer and dishwasher – remembering to retain the
position of existing service points if possible, since
re-wiring and re-plumbing can cut a swathe through your
budget. Bear in mind, though, that track lighting above
the worksurfaces is a real boon – alterations to
existing wiring to incorporate this and spot lighting above
cooking and preparation areas shouldn’t break the
bank. And work out where electrical appliances will go
to ensure you have plenty of power points where you need
If your kitchen is large enough to dine in, work out where
to site the table or breakfast bar and stools/chairs. In
a big kitchen the dining area will take a substantial part
of the space. Decide which part of the room you want to
commit to seating and work your kitchen around it.
Think, too, about heating. Radiators are fine but, with
space at a premium in most kitchens, underfloor heating
is a popular option that can be used under tiled, slate
and timber flooring. As well as freeing up precious floor
and wall space, the advantages include easy installation,
low running costs and no maintenance required.
Remember, too, the ‘magic triangle’ of sink,
cooker and fridge and keep these three pieces of equipment
close together for maximum efficiency, with your food preparation
area nearby, if possible between the sink and cooker. In
a single galley kitchen, these items will have to be condensed
into a line rather than a triangle.
If possible, too, position the fridge between the main
entrance and the main cooking area. This gives other members
of the household easy access without disturbing the cook!
Never put the fridge next to the cooker, as the difference
in temperature will make both appliances work less efficiently.
Planning for safety
- Position the dishwasher and washing machine
near the sink and away from the cooking area
- Keep the cooking area away from doors or passageways
- Electricity sockets should be at least one metre away from
any source of water
- The extractor fan must be at least 750mm above the hob
to avoid over-heating
- Ideally allow at least 1.2 metres in front of any unit
or appliance with a door
There is more information of kitchen layouts at www.almostimpartialguide.co.uk/kitchens/layouts.htm