It’s the heart of any home, and likely to be the biggest investment you’ll make in your house. Katie Fontana, Founder of British Standard by Plain English, shares her expert advice to help you design a welcoming and stylish kitchen
THIS BOLD KITCHEN IN SHEEN, SOUTH-WEST LONDON, DEMONSTRATES THAT CLASSIC SHAKER CUPBOARDS ARE VERY ADAPTABLE AND CAN LOOK MODERN WHEN CUSTOMISED TO INDIVIDUAL TASTES
You’re getting a new kitchen – hurrah! With so much to consider, where should you begin?
As a starting point, you should consider where you want to put your kitchen. For example, original terraced houses would commonly have the kitchen in the basement – often people will put their new kitchen down there only to find they are spending the majority of their time in the darkest room in the house. In this case it can be better to consider the ground floor.
To ensure that your kitchen is appropriate to your lifestyle we would recommend analysing your life as it is now. Think about who will be using the kitchen as well as how and what you will use it for. Do you like to entertain in your kitchen, are you an avid cook or do you prefer to eat out and therefore what types of appliances will you need? In turn, this will affect the decisions you make about work surfaces, types of cupboards and storage options helping to create a map of the space you need.
Think about who will be using the kitchen as well as how and what you will use it for.”
Lighting is extremely important and should always be planned alongside the rest of the kitchen, it needs to be carefully positioned and of good quality for practical purposes – for example, lighting positioned behind you will just cast shadows on your work surfaces.
Most importantly, your kitchen should feel like a home. Unlike a restaurant kitchen a domestic kitchen is not purely practical it’s also emotional. We would always recommend a balance between practicality and aesthetic.
THE SPACE IN THIS CHARMING KITCHEN IN KEW IS MAXIMISED WITH COUNTERSTANDING CUPBOARDS ATOP THE WORKTOPS, WHILE THE TONGUE AND GROOVE PANELLING CREATES THE ILLUSION OF HEIGHT. IRON DOOR HANDLES AND THE MATCHING HANGING PAN RAIL AND SHELF BRACKETS LEND DISTINCTION
How can you maximise the space in your kitchen?
Be honest about what you actually need in your kitchen and stick to essentials. A common mistake is to try to fit too much in or use too many cupboards which will just look cluttered. Find a compromise between good storage and not making the space feel too cramped.
Think more practically with carefully arranged cupboards. For example, a bank of full height tool cupboards will offer more storage and take up less room than lots of smaller cupboards. You can then compliment these with a smaller number of floor cupboards, shelving and open cupboards as needed. For smaller kitchens we would always recommend using mostly fitted cupboards due to space restrictions. You can also opt for slim line appliances.
Make good use of the space you do have. Look at pull out trays and drawers and bench seats with built in storage instead of chairs. For very small spaces, a good tip is to think about cupboards the same colour as your walls – this will give the illusion that they are receding rather than dominating the space.
THIS PLAYFUL FAMILY KITCHEN IN BATH SHOWS HOW CHOOSING DIFFERENT PAINT COLOURS FOR UNITS AND ISLANDS BRINGS AN UNEXPECTED DESIGN ELEMENT WHICH CAN LIFT THE WHOLE SCHEME
How can you make the most practical room in the house feel warm and welcoming?
You don’t need to treat the whole space like a kitchen – create zones that work well together. For example, if you have a kitchen with a dining area, it can work very well to introduce some soft furnishings such as a sofa and a rug together with a low coffee table to create a more relaxed and warm environment. Soft furnishings, standard lamps, art and other personal items will automatically give a warmer and more welcoming environment.
How can you make all the elements of a new kitchen feel cohesive?
In a broad sense, consider the whole scheme and the mood you are trying to achieve. Be consistent with your vision and choose elements that compliment this as you go through the planning process.
If you have existing aspects that can’t be changed such as flooring, you should try to respond to what’s there by choosing elements that work cohesively with this. Alternatively, you could try painting or staining the floors to better suit the style you are trying to achieve.
THIS KITCHEN AT THE BRITISH STANDARD SHOWROOM IN SHOREDITCH SHOWS HOW JUXTAPOSING COLOURS AND FINISHES CAN CREATE A WONDERFULLY INDIVIDUAL LOOK
How should you go about choosing the right colour for your kitchen? And what’s your advice for painting the cupboards?
Choosing the colour is extremely subjective – every space is different due to the type and direction of light available. Our recommendation would be to look through ideas online or in magazines that may be applicable to your own scheme.
Art can be a great guide as the artist has already worked out the proportion, intensities and relationships of colours so you can see how they work together.
Any scheme you like should be tested on large bits of lining paper and hung in the space to be considered in relation to each other at different times of day. Remember that a colour in someone else’s home could look completely different in your own.
Remember that a colour in someone else’s home could look completely different in your own.”
Quality of paint and the type of finish makes a big difference – we prefer to use good quality flat emulsions and eggshells from brands such as Farrow and Ball. The colour of our cabinets can be personalised to introduce any mood or style that you are hoping to bring to your space. Play games with colour to add depth, interest, energy and personality – try painting different cupboards in the same colour but with various finishes.
A nice combination is emulsion on walls together with eggshell or even gloss on some or all of the cupboards. Another nice idea is to paint different areas in totally different colours – the island one colour and a bank of cupboards another, or choose shades of the same colour – one of our clients used 14 different shades of green on a panelled wall.
Our cupboards are delivered to your door readymade with an undercoat and we prefer using a brush to hand finish them as it gives lovely expression of the human touch through brushstrokes and makes the kitchen look like part of the house. A sprayed kitchen will have a different texture to the walls and may not feel as integrated.
THIS SPACIOUS KITCHEN OVERLOOKING THE OKANOGAN-WENATCHEE NATIONAL FOREST IN WASHINGTON STATE IS BOTH ELEGANT AND FUNCTIONAL. THE GENEROUS RUN OF TALL LARDER CUPBOARDS PROVIDES AMPLE STORAGE AND THE PARED-BACK SCHEME MAKES THE MOST OF THE STUNNING VIEW
What’s your advice for choosing lighting which is both practical and welcoming?
The main thing to avoid is bright LED lighting – filament bulbs give a softer light which will feel much more welcoming. Consider lighting controlled in zones so that you can dim the kitchen and bring up the dining area and vice versa where appropriate to dictate the ambience of the space.
Secondary lighting is a great way to introduce atmosphere. We like to use freestanding lamps on worktops and wall lights with adjustable angles can add dynamism.”
What should you think about when choosing a worktop?
The main choices tend to be between stone, composite stones, timber and steel. Most importantly, you should consider what you are using your surface for. We love the character that is added to a kitchen through everyday wear and tear of a worktop but if you are concerned about this sort of thing then its better to go for something like a composite granite which has many of the qualities of stone but is more resistant than natural stone or wood which will need periodic re-finishing and which are less durable to stains.
Mixing worktops is another option – a stone island with timber around the edge or even mixing the two materials on a larger island can be good for different types of cooking.
RECLAIMED SCAFFOLDING BOARDS HAVE BEEN USED TO CREATE A CHARACTERFUL WORKTOP IN THIS SERENE SUFFOLK COTTAGE KITCHEN
A kitchen is a huge investment – how can you make sure you’ll choose a design you’ll love in the years to come?
Opt for classic quality over more fashionable styles – you don’t want to have to replace your kitchen every few years. We offer beautifully simple wooden cupboards which can look both modern or traditional depending on the finish you choose. The affordable range is underpinned by a commitment to craftsmanship, an obsession with great British design and a belief that creativity in the home should be celebrated.
A hand painted kitchen is a great option – it is much easier to refresh your cabinets and you can affordably change up the look with a different colour or new hardware. With worktops, its best to choose timeless materials such as oak or marble over other timbers such as walnut, maple or cherry which often come in and out of fashion.
Discover more at britishstandardcupboards.co.uk
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