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    Kitchen design and layout

    Summary: Planning a kitchen layout and design, designing the kitchen layout, planning the kitchen layout and discussing the triangle principal.

    The kitchen is often called the heart of the home - the hub of domestic activity, family gathering and entertaining. Refurbishing your kitchen will not only add to the value of your home, but will also improve the functionality of the space and create a welcoming ambiance that you will enjoy spending time in.

    The possibilities for kitchen design are almost endless, and a vast range of prefabricated and bespoke fitted kitchens is available to suit your needs and make the most of every inch of space. Alternatively, a ‘free standing’ kitchen with dressers and cupboards can create a cosy more traditional living area.

    The cost of refurbishing a kitchen varies greatly depending on the materials you choose and the complexity of the installation. If you want to keep costs down, buy self-assembly fitted kitchen units and keep plumbing and electrical work to a minimum by leaving appliances in the same place. You can create a new look cheaply by changing unit fronts and handles, or wall and floor coverings. However, if you want to make the most efficient use of space, it may be best to start from scratch with your designs.

    Kitchen layout

    When planning your kitchen, think about how you intend to use the space. If the kitchen is to double up as a dining area, you may want to divide the room with a versatile peninsular unit or island unit, which can also be used as a breakfast bar. Alternatively, a dwarf partition wall will separate eating and cooking areas without making the room seem boxed off. Make sure there is a clear path to the dining table.

    To make the most of the space available, add an island unit to the room as well as wall units and worktops. These come in various shapes from traditional square workstations to more modern curved and round versions, and can provide an attractive focal point in the room. Electricity to appliances can be run under the floor and supplied by space-saving pop-up sockets. Plumbing to island units can be problematic so check with a plumber before you factor an island unit into your design.

    Multifunctionality is the order of the day for most modern kitchens, and the central island workstation is becoming a popular option, with concealed integral sinks, chopping areas, coldendars, bins etc. allowing several people to work at once.

    The triangle principal

    Most modern kitchens, except those with an island unit, are designed around the principle of the ‘working triangle’, consisting of the sink, fridge and cooker. These three appliances should be close enough for convenience with enough space around them to give you room to manoeuvre safely. For maximum efficiency, the total distance of the triangle should be between 3.5 (11ft5in) and 7.5m (24ft5in).

    A U-shaped kitchen offers the most storage with units on all three sides. It is usual to place the sink, fridge and cooker on separate walls. If the room is L-shaped, place two appliances on one wall and the third opposite. If the room is very narrow, you may have to place all three appliances on the same wall, like in a ship’s galley hence it is known as a galley layout.

    Planning the layout

    Draw a scale plan of the kitchen showing fixtures, doors, windows, plumbing and electrical sockets, and the gas outlet. Cut out shapes to represent your main appliances and try positioning them to form a triangle. You can then arrange the other units and appliances around them. Remember, your plan may be affected by the location of the main drain and wall studs for fixing units to. Here are some pointers for working out the layout:

    • Can you move the washing machine or boiler to a utility area to increase space in the kitchen?
    • The sink and fridge will be used by all members of the household when you are cooking so, to avoid overcrowding in the food preparation area, place the cooker at the furthest point of the triangle.
    • The dishwasher should be within 1m of the sink.
    • Dishwashers should have at least 800mm (2ft6in) clearance in front for loading.
    • Fridges should have at least 400mm (1ft3in) clearance for the door.
    • Ensure cupboard doors and drawers, particularly in corners, have sufficient access space and room to open.
    • It is impractical to place a washing machine in a corner where the door may obstruct access to the units.
    • The hob should have 600mm of clearance above it, except if an extractor fan is needed.
    • Give yourself plenty of room to work around the cooker, and at least 100mm of workspace either side of the hob.
    • Avoid placing the cooker or hob near to an inward-opening door or under a window.
    • It is best to place the cooker on an outside wall so that a ventilation system can be easily installed.
    • An extractor fan should be fitted between 600mm and 915mm above the hob.
    • Wall-mounted units should be at least 460mm above the worktop. If you are tiling the splashback, you may want to increase this height to allow for whole tiles to be fitted.
    • A comfortable height for worktops is 900mm above the floor. If the worktop is to be mounted on base units, these should be about 890mm (2ft9in) tall.
    • Check that the units will fit underneath any windows.
    • To allow for stacking the sink, allow at least 450mm on one side of the sink and 600mm on the side closest to the cooker.
    • If possible, position the kitchen sink under a window to let in light and provide a view.
    • An island unit should be 1.2m from the wall units and should not block the access route to the fridge, cooker and sink.
    • Avoid placing the fridge too close to heat sources like the cooker.
    • Plan for plenty of sockets on the walls behind the worktops.
    • Carry out the necessary wiring and plumbing work before the kitchen units arrive.

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