Kitchen buying guide

What to look for and how to stay on budget.
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02.Hiring the right professional

Kitchen designers customise to your needs but may not be so focused on aesthetics. Conversely, interior designers and architects rarely work on kitchens alone, so practicality could be a casualty of style. Check each designer’s credentials and ask to have a look at their last project before hiring.

The kitchen has to be in the right place – located as part of the living space and possibly requiring access to an outdoor area. It also needs to be functional, but the last stage is where you can really chew through the money when it comes to fittings and fixtures.

The right layout

Your kitchen layout will be influenced by the size and shape of your space, as well as existing doors and windows. You have four choices:

1. Single line Occupying just one wall, this is ideal for lean terraces – but if it’s long, you may need skates to reach each end.
2. Galley For storage, this is arguably the best option because cabinets run along both sides. It’s compact and open on both ends, which is good for ease of movement, but it might also turn into a passageway, which should be avoided.
3. L-shaped kitchens team well with an island, which can double as a second food preparation area. You can enter this kitchen layout from both ends − a huge bonus if more than one person is using it.
4. U-shaped kitchens can incorporate a breakfast bar on one arm of the U. The big downside is that you can only enter from one end, so it may be a bit too cosy if two people are using it, and corner cabinets may be hard to access.

Single-line and L-shaped configurations are ideal for open-plan living. An island facing the living area means the cook can chat with guests while preparing the meal; in addition, it can house a sink and cooktop. About 120cm is the minimum length – any less and it will be little more than a food preparation space. A depth of 120cm can incorporate a 30cm overhang for informal seating.

Siting the work zones

The fundamental design principle for a kitchen is an uninterrupted path between the fridge, sink and cooktop, with just a couple of metres between them. Thus forming the classic "golden triangle" for ease of movement. The skew of this triangle will be influenced by how you use the space.

“Cooks generally spend the most time in the vicinity of the sink, with the second-most important area being the cooktop work zone,” says the Housing Industry Association (HIA). “The majority of movement within the kitchen is between these two work zones. The other major traffic route is between the refrigerator and the sink.”

With the kitchen’s changing functions, perhaps two or more people cooking in it at the same time, and the addition of new appliances and fittings, a golden rectangle may well be a more appropriate layout.


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