Too often people under estimate the importance of their kitchen design and layout. Your kitchen should be practical employing smart design to maximise functionality and make effective use of available light and space. Initial considerations:
Work out what you don’t like about your existing kitchen – lack of light, bench space or power outlets, a single sink, a difficult-to-clean stovetop. Attempt to iron out those problems in the new design.
Identify who are the primary users of your kitchen.
Don’t feel overwhelmed by your existing configuration. Often pipes, gas lines electrics, walls and windows can be repositioned with less effort than you’d expect.
If clever design can’t solve your space problems consider expanding your kitchen via a buffet-style breakfast bar or island bench.
Start a clipping file: cut and tear pages from kitchen and bathroom magazines, interior design and decorating brochures and books
Have a clear budget in mind for your kitchen
LAYOUT AND TRAFFIC
Plan your kitchen considering the natural pattern of movement in your home. Allow a comfortable distance between each of the kitchen’s functions: storage, cooking, workspace, waste handling and washing up.
Position sink, fridge and cook top so they form a ‘work triangle’. The oven (or hotplate), sink and refrigerator should be no more than 7m apart in total and should be in the shape of a triangle. Note that left- or right-handedness affects layout: for a good right-handed flow, position in this order (R to L): dishwasher/dish drainer/sink, workspace, cooking unit, utility storage.
Position the sink, drainage and dishwasher first. This will comprise the biggest single unit in your kitchen.
Sinks are usually placed against an outside wall under a window for convenient drainage and good natural lighting.
The dishwasher should be close to the crockery and cutlery. It should also be away from doorways and stove, so it can be loaded easily.
Locate the food preparation areas between the stove and the sink.
Ensure appliances, sinks, bench tops and cabinetry all fit, accounting for the ‘sweep’ of doors and opening drawers and allowing for normal movement.
Allow 200mm clearance from the wall adjacent to the hinge of a fridge door and if installing a wall oven, allow 200mm from any adjacent wall for elbow clearance.
A minimum of 1200mm is required between combinations in a double-sided kitchen so two people can work comfortably without getting in each other’s way.
The same distance is recommended between kitchen unit and dining table so that a person can sit comfortably at the table while another works by the kitchen counter.
If you’re gutting your kitchen, consider installing extra power points at the time, as it is very expensive to get new ones put in when all the other work has been completed.
WORK SURFACES AND LANDING SPACE
Provide ample work surfaces in key areas: next to the refrigerator and oven; on both sides of the cook top and sink.
For safety and efficiency, allow adequate bench space for preparation (800-1400mm between sink and hotplates, 300mm at each side of the cook top) and serving (300mm for two plates, double for four); and at least 450mm set-down next to the fridge, pantry and wall oven. The recommended countertop depth is 600mm.
Consider setting benches at varying heights to accommodate different tasks and users e.g. children
Avoid positioning a workspace or cooking unit in a corner. If necessary allow at least 300mm from the inside corner of the benchtop.