Keithe Patterson is the founder and owner of West London kitchens and has designed hundreds of kitchens and knows the issues that crop up repeatedly and so we asked him to pass on their tips.

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He says “We’re happy to pass on some top tips to the decorcafe audience and won’t apologise in advance for many of these being so prosaic.  It’s the boring, unexciting nitty gritty that you have to get right when designing a kitchen, then all the fun stuff can follow seamlessly because the design is robust enough to take whatever variations suit you and your family.

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1. Let’s start with the least exciting thing there is – the bins.  They’re tiresome.  You need to think carefully about the capacity you will need, for both general rubbish and recycling, as it’s all so bulky and space-consuming.  Do you want internal pull-out bins?  Freestanding?  Where will the recycling go?  Have you room for a compactor?  Compost?  Plan it all in from the beginning and you won’t resent the space taken.

2. Ovens.  Again, think about the capacity you need and work back from that.  Do you want a double oven plus a microwave, or one oven plus an oven/microwave combination?  Side by side under the counter, or stacked?  Do you need/want a warming oven? Have you room for a range?  Is a steam oven worth the cost?  (Rarely…)  Plan for more capacity than you usually need if possible then big events like Christmas or 8 teenagers for Sunday lunch won’t be so hellish.

3. Hob.  Do you want gas or induction?  Gas is more responsive, but induction is the greener, more versatile option.  Don’t have just 4 rings if you can get away with 5 or 6 as 4 can feel very crowded.  One big frying pan can easily take up most of the space of two rings which gets annoying if you’re hob cooking a quantity of food and need to fit in a couple of big saucepans as well.

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4. Extractor – think about this before the building work starts… how will you get the external pipe out of the room?

5. Do you really have room for an island?  Don’t have one unless you’ve got at least 900cm space all around, preferably 1 full metre, otherwise your kitchen will feel pinched.  Ditto island stools.  They look good but there’s no point in providing seating at the island in a smallish room when the table seating is just over there, ie. only a couple of feet away.

6. Sink in the island?  No, don’t do it.  Unless you’re a neat freak who washes, dries and puts away immediately.  Otherwise you just have tottering piles of dishes on display.  Sinks aren’t attractive so place yours in the run against a wall, not in the middle of the room.  We tend to feel the same way about hobs in islands… who needs all that heat and action on display when you can tuck it away.

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7. Free-standing fridge.  Check how much ventilation space is required by the manufacturer.  Some companies insist on 50mm either side which leaves you with unattractive dust traps which then need to be covered with a panel or a surround from the manufacturer.

8. Most counter-tops are planned as 60cm deep but make yours 70cm if you can.  Losing 10cm of floor space isn’t a big deal but gaining 10cm of counter gives you a disproportionately luxurious sense of space.

9.  Lighting is critical.  Get advice from a lighting designer if you can (the decorcafe can put you in touch with an expert if you need help with that!) and plan your ambient, task and accent lighting carefully.  You need to install it during the building work and it can’t be moved later so get it right from the outset.  For LEDs under wall-mounted cabinets remember to put in enough spurs as each section will need a spur.

10. Children (if relevant) and breakfast.  Try to devote a cupboard/drawer each to kids’ stuff and breakfast things, and have both accessible to children, ie. not too high.  It’s great if children can access their own plates, cups and cutlery so they can independently help themselves and lay the table with their own things.  And it’s really useful for everyone to have all the breakfast things in one place: convenient, quick and doesn’t disrupt other areas of the kitchen.”



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