Kitchen Design

Conceived on the Drawing Board

Kitchen design

One could approach design like a "shopping list" and think of all the features your kitchen should have. e.g., a fan-assisted oven, microwave, a double ceramic sink with swivel taps, power sockets, etc.

A kitchen could have everything and look stunning but when is a kitchen is ‘better’?

There are no rules cast in stone. Kitchens are ultimately designed for people to use. So, in this context, ‘better” ‘may well mean ‘more useful’.

Before we even begin to think about design we ask: Who will be using this kitchen most? What do they want the kitchen to do? So, we begin by thinking about ways this kitchen will be used. A powerful way to do this is to gather together real examples of the kinds of things the owner would want to do: e.g., prepare a cooked breakfast for four people, make a midnight snack of cheese on toast for one, give a dinner party for 8 guests with a specific starter, main and dessert etc.

Then the real test. What would the kitchen need to make cheese on toast for one and to prepare a cooked breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms and toast with butter? We might add a frying pan and a stove with one ring to heat it on, as well as plates and cutlery for the whole family as needed. And on we go, adding bit by bit to the design one test at a time, always checking as the design evolves that all our tests are still passing and that we have a working kitchen.

As with all design, the devil's in the detail. Not all toasters are born equal. Not all stoves perform in the same way. As part of our design process, we may well wish to isolate these elements of our design and check independently that - in the context we intend to use them - they will do what we need.

How we approach design

A kitchen with a twist Great features that features great together






A chain of dependencies

We can think of the design details as a chain of dependencies - things that have to happen in a certain order. For example:

One must put cheese on the toast before we put it under the grill. However, one must toast the bread before we put cheese on it. Still, the cheese must have been sliced before putting it on the toast.

So: Where do we keep the cheese? Slicer? Toaster?

Are they easily accessible?

How many times would one need to go back and forth? If a child is doing that, could a child get to everything?

So we dissect our actions driving out the details of how our kitchen will pass the test. One should repeat the test-driven process down through the chain of dependencies until we have a process that works end-to-end. In that manner, one test at a time - one example of usage at a time - we carve out our kitchen design, always checking that every addition or change we make to the design hasn't broken any of our tests.

Of course, such growth, if entirely piecemeal, could lead to some pretty crappy designs. We might somehow end up with two fridges, or that the power sockets are right above the sink where water's likely to splash, or that our kitchen consumes enough electricity to power a small town, or that the only place for the dishwasher is on top of the washing machine.

Plan down to the last detail: utensil drawers, pots and pans stored next to the hob and oven, knife block and drawers adjacent to food preparation areas and, most important of all, measure all your crockery and tableware – you’ll want them to fit perfectly in your new kitchen. Still, one thing we must be vigilant about; How difficult it will be to change in the future - since, no matter how good your kitchen design is, there will always be room for improvement, always needs we didn't anticipate, and, well, hey... things change.

It is clear, design cannot be separated form non-functional requirements, like running costs, ease of maintenance, safety, energy consumption, ergonomics, and even aesthetics.

Know your budget

HamburgerAvoid a disconnect between expectaions and reality. Have a firm idea of what you really need and what you can afford.

If you have the means for high-end appliances and  finishes, include those into the planning from the beginning. If you budget on a shoestring, make it known upfront.

Although miracles may not happen on a shoestring, a designer has the experience and the know-how to stretch your money as far as they'll possibly go.

Costly changes

Olive oilPeople change their minds or come up with new ideas when it is aloost too late. Changes to orders can be anything; from a mild nuisance to a major issue.

Not only will chnages hold up the progress, but they could dent your wallet. That said, if there's a change that must be made for you to enjoy your revamped kitchen the way you intend, it's better to speak up than to end up dealing with the flaw as soon a possible.

Be patient.

A good kitchen plan takes time to create, and so does bringing it to life.

An effort at the beginning of the process will pay off in the long run. And the last thing you want is cutting corners during rushed installation job, so don't hurry the contractors — no matter how anxious you are to put your new kitchen to work.