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Kitchen Design Guide

How to Design Your New Kitchen With No Regrets

Planning your new kitchen is an exciting endeavour, but it comes with some critical decisions that can make or break your kitchen design. At KCA, hundreds of families have come to us to design their new kitchens and shared with us why their old kitchens don’t work for them. From this, we’ve identified the main reasons that people grow to regret their kitchens and what makes a design work and what doesn’t.

 In this ultimate guide, we help you ask crucial questions to plan your kitchen confidently and create a beautiful kitchen to enjoy living in with no regrets.


How will you use your kitchen space?

When designing your new kitchen, your architect and kitchen designer will want to understand how you and your family will use the space. These days, most kitchen renovations are open-plan or broken-plan layouts, including dining, working and entertaining areas. As a result, your kitchen layout needs to be multifunctional, expanding beyond just a place to store and prepare food.

 To plan your kitchen layout without regrets, consider your interests and how your family will live in the space. Here are some questions to prompt you:

How many family members live in your home, and how do you envisage them using the space daily? Will young children play within the kitchen/living space? Will children be doing homework? Will anyone be working from home in this room?

  • How many hours do you cook each week? What type of cooking do you do? Are you a keen home baker? Do you have lots of worktop appliances?
  • Do you entertain? If so, how often and what type of entertaining do you do? Is it primarily multi-generational family gatherings where adults must keep the children within eyesight? Or dinner parties with drinks and canapes? Or do you often host full dinner parties?
  • How will the room be used during the day and evenings? Could a computer station be helpful for online browsing and ordering the grocery shop?
  • Would you like to separate the living and cooking areas to minimise noise travelling? Or would you like the living zones to be connected? Identifying how you will use the space will help you and your designer make essential decisions.


What Are Your Kitchens’ Must-Haves & Nice-To-Haves?

Creating a must-haves and nice-to-haves list is a good idea when planning your kitchen. Your must-have list ensures that your kitchen will accommodate your top priority requirements; these features will have the most impact on how well the space works for you. Your nice-to-have list adds another layer of personalisation and luxury; these features would be a bonus. Be realistic about your needs and budget during the planning phase.

Everyone’s kitchen “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” will vary, but in our 30 years of experience, here are a few examples for your list that remain consistent:

Must-Haves: Functional layout, cooking layout that follows the working triangle, adequate storage, quality appliances, durable materials, and effective lighting.

Nice-To-Haves: Smart Appliances, pantries/larders, home bars, luxury finishes and bespoke furniture.

Need help with this? Consult with a kitchen designer to find creative solutions for incorporating both must-haves and nice-to-haves. The designers at KCA are experts at striking a perfect balance, using clever design techniques to tick all your boxes within budget. 


How Will Your New Kitchen Flow Between Tasks & Zones?

After examining the flow of your current kitchen in detail, you will understand what currently works for you and what doesn’t. For your new kitchen, consider how smoothly you can transition between various tasks, such as putting away groceries, cooking, and entertaining. 

Optimise the layout to ensure practicality in your daily routines with efficient storage solutions, clear traffic paths, and well-defined zones.

Does Your Kitchen Have Enough Natural Light?

We can’t overstate the impact of natural light on your kitchen’s atmosphere and, ultimately, your well-being. Any good architect or kitchen designer will review the orientation of your room and consider how light will enter the space at different times of the day. You can also note how light moves and share your thoughts with your designer. Where the light flows during the morning and evening significantly impacts an open-plan kitchen, influencing where you should locate your kitchen, dining and TV lounging zones.

Kitchen design features such as mirrored finishes enhance natural light by reflecting and bouncing light around the room. Equally, a balanced layout of cabinets and brighter colour schemes can improve your feeling of spaciousness, resulting in a bright and inviting kitchen that you love spending time in.


What Works/Doesn’t Work in Your Current Kitchen?

A great starting point is creating a list of what doesn’t work in your kitchen. Take a moment to evaluate your existing kitchen. What aspects of your current design do you like, and what would you change? What bugs you, and what couldn’t you live without?

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your current space provides valuable insights for the redesign process. Consider how your current kitchen space flows, whether you have enough storage, how easy it is to prepare food, if your washing machine clutters your kitchen, etc. This self-assessment provides valuable insights to enhance the strengths of your current space while addressing any shortcomings.

What is Your Plan for Kitchen Extraction?

 With the growing trend of open-plan kitchen, dining, and living areas, kitchen extraction is crucial for creating a pleasant environment for cooking, dining, and lounging. After all, soft furnishings in lounge areas don’t go well with cooking smells, grease, and condensation.

There are many factors to consider when planning your kitchen extraction, and you will need to firm up your extraction plan early to avoid costly build changes further down the line.

Your most significant decision will be whether to go for a ducted-out or recirculation extractor, which will determine where you can – or can’t – position your hob. Ducted extractors are more efficient as they extract from the building through an external wall. However, the ducting must run from your cooker hood to an external wall. Ducting outside is usually straightforward if your hob is against an external wall; however, hobs on an island or internal wall require a more extended run through the walls or ceiling. None of this is a problem; it’s all common and something that the experts at KCA do day in and day out, but there are times when ducting outside isn’t possible. In these situations, a recirculation extractor is a solution to consider. Rather than expelling air outdoors, recirculation extractors work by taking in the air and passing it through a filter before it exhausts that air back into the room. Recirculation extraction tends to be less effective than a ducted-out model but is a good solution when ducting outside isn’t possible.

The best way to nail your ducting plan the first time – and protect your budget from future costly changes – is to work with a specialist kitchen designer right from the outset. You can start by booking a free design consultation with the experts at KCA.

How Will You Entertain in Your Kitchen?

Kitchens have become the home’s social hub, so it’s essential to consider how you use your kitchen space when entertaining. The good news is that you will have already considered your hosting needs by answering the questions earlier in this guide.

Designing a kitchen for entertaining requires thoughtful consideration of various elements to ensure a welcoming and functional space. Consider an open layout to encourage social interaction and a seamless flow between the kitchen and living/dining areas.

Depending on how you entertain and the number of guests you accommodate, important considerations include the position of your kitchen island or peninsula and seating options. Consider breakfast bar seating, a well-designed banquette, or a spacious dining space so guests can sit comfortably. The designers at KCA have a wealth of experience designing kitchens that work perfectly for daily living and occasional entertaining.

Integrating entertainment features like built-in speakers or a TV enhances the kitchen’s role as a space for lounging. Efficient traffic flow, warm lighting, and inviting decor collectively create an atmosphere that fosters a warm welcome. Connecting the kitchen with outdoor spaces provides extended entertaining options to capitalise on favourable English weather, particularly in summer. Versatile storage solutions should ensure easy access to entertaining essentials, and considering your catering and cooking needs during larger gatherings is vital.


What are the Focal Points of Your Kitchen? 

Defining your kitchen’s focal point(s) is a pivotal step in planning your kitchen and setting the overall tone for your design. Your kitchen focal point(s) are defined by your kitchen style, the unique features of your property, and your interests.

  • Property Features and Attributes: The specific features of your property can influence the focal points in your kitchen. If your kitchen overlooks your garden, large windows or glass doors strategically positioned to frame the outdoor view can foster a connection with your garden. Your kitchen layout should complement the window placement and be oriented to capitalise on views and key focal points. Consider architectural elements like exposed beams, vaulted ceilings, or unique nooks that can be highlighted as distinctive focal points, adding character to the space. Your kitchen can work around these elements to maintain the character features.
  • Kitchen Style: Whether you opt for a sleek modern design, a classic traditional look, or a trendy transitional kitchen style, each carries elements that will influence focal points in your design. A minimalist island or statement splashback could take centre stage in modern kitchens, while traditional kitchens may feature a stylish range cooker or ornate mantle as the focal point.
  • Personal Interests: Focal points in your kitchen design can be influenced by your interests. If you are passionate about cooking, make a feature of your cooking area. A well-designed kitchen island with seating or a drinks bar can become a central gathering point for those who enjoy socialising. Personalised touches, such as showcasing artwork, a collection of cookbooks, or unique decor items, can also create beautiful focal points that add personality.

    Ultimately, the key is to strike a balance that aligns with your style preferences, complements the architectural features of your property, and resonates with your interests. By thoughtfully considering these elements, you can define focal points in your kitchen that enhance its aesthetic appeal and create a space that feels amazing. Whether it’s a stunning cooking area, a panoramic view, or a showcase of personal passions, the focal point becomes the heart of your kitchen, anchoring the entire design with flair and individuality.

Will Your New Kitchen Design Last?

How long would you like your kitchen to last? If you see yourself living in your home for ten years, or perhaps it’s your forever home, the last thing you will want is a kitchen that feels dated, tired and doesn’t suit your needs in 5 years, leaving you full of regret.

While no one has a crystal ball to see into the future, follow these tips, and you’ll be able to avoid some of the design decisions that most commonly lead to regret:

  • Think about how your lifestyle and tastes may evolve and share this with your kitchen designer so that they can offer advice and design ideas to create a future-proof design.
  • Be careful of leaning too heavily on current style trends. Explore classic colour schemes and sound design principles that never go out of style. A good guide is to follow your property’s architectural style, as this will lead you to create a kitchen that will always feel coherent.
  • Invest in durable materials that will age well. Every finish found in the kitchen comes in high-quality and poor-quality versions. It can be challenging for people outside the industry to spot these differences, so this is where working with an expert kitchen designer pays dividends. At KCA, we’ve spent 30 years researching, testing and sourcing materials for our kitchens, and we’ve seen our fair share of the good and the bad. Kitchen cabinet doors and drawers are constructed from different materials, making them more or less prone to water ingress, warping and damage. Composite stone kitchen worktops such as quartz can have different quality resin and production processes, with lower quality cheaper quartz worktops prone to discolouring. Even laminates – historically regarded as cheap and poor quality – are available in excellent, high-quality finishes with fantastic durability.
  • Looking at the notes you made earlier on how you use your space now, consider how your lifestyle could change in the coming years. If you have children, how will their needs change as they age, and how would you like the space to function when they leave home? Are you approaching retirement, and how might that change what you’d like from your kitchen?
  • Plan your storage not only to declutter the space but also to accommodate changing needs over time. If you can create additional storage beyond your current needs, it will give you space to grow into. Think beyond the kitchen; what about incorporating some fitted furniture to create storage in your living areas?
  • Integrate smart home technology to enhance efficiency and convenience, keeping your kitchen design current and functional.

Follow this guide, and you’ll be well on your way to creating your dream kitchen with no regrets.

If you’d like an expert designer to guide you to ensure you’re making all the best decisions, why not book a free design consultation with a designer at KCA?

Call our Berkshire showroom on 01344 883777 or request your free design consultation online.

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Welcome to our new Blog
Since 1993 we’ve been designing kitchens and bedrooms for prestigious properties and learnt a wealth of hints and tips along the way; knowledge we would like to share with you here on our Blog.

Welcome to our new Blog