The only thing that seems to get the juices flowing more than a kitchen renovation is a brand-new kitchen – and a sizeable majority of Australians are rolling up their sleeves each year to plan their perfect one. But just because we spend so much time in our kitchens, it doesn’t mean we have the very best grasp on what is needed from an architectural and design point of view. If not done with painstaking care and attention, a new kitchen can well and truly knock you out of the frying pan and into the fire. Here are the five common mistakes – and how to avoid them:
Not enough storage
We’ve all been through appliance fads; coffee makers, bread-makers, state of the art juicers, high pressure crock-pots – the list is almost endless. Add to them toasters and kettles, an assortment of pots and pans and a brightly coloured tagine for good measure, and we soon run out of every bit of conceivable space. If we are ever to have a clean and functional space, the question of where to put all of these items is one that will take time, lots of measurements, and a dash of ingenuity.
Full height cabinets, different sized drawers, overhead storage and butler’s pantries are all highly-prized options. However, don’t get lost in just the dimensions. While size and space is often top of mind, the strength and holding capacity must be equally fit for use. Heavy items, such as appliances and dinnerware, need to be supported while being accessible at the right height. Similarly, the required amount of movement of any item should be considered (i.e., you don’t want to carry heavy items too far, or across potentially wet areas).
Segregating everyday needs from more occasional requirements is often a good first step. You can place mainstays like oil and spices in overhead cabinets and pantries close to the cooking action, while designating dry areas for electrical appliances in places that are a little further removed. For hard to manevoure items, open storage can be a great solution, particularly when angles are tight, and don’t forget to put storage just near your dishwasher for fast put-away times!
Not enough bench space
For those that love dinner parties or have to entertain a swarm of guests come Christmas time we all appreciate the importance of bench space. But while room for the preparation of multiple courses by multiple people might not be the norm, considering what you will need when the heat is really on is a good place to start. Those lucky enough to have as much space as they desire, can base their desires on these peak occasions.
For those of us that are restricted for space, we need to consider what we cook and how we cook to give ourselves every advantage. Kitchen islands can often come to the rescue with more storage and preparation space, however they only work if you have the room, and need to be positioned just right so that they don’t create a bottleneck in any one area.
As the kitchen island often becomes the main preparation area, many people add sinks and taps so that they can perform all functions from washing to peeling, cutting and serving without having to relocate. A rule of thumb is to have benches deep enough to hold multiple items but not big enough that you have to bend your back to reach any one thing.
If your kitchen isn’t planned around your systems and stages of use, it quickly becomes inefficient and prompts you to move back and forth with wasted energy. To prevent this, the very practical idea of work flow should always be taken into consideration. The position of your sink, stove and refrigerator must be carefully considered in addition to your dishwasher and key electrical appliances. Minimising the amount of steps you take and the number of draws/cupboards you have to open for normal functions is perhaps the best way to plan your flow. Similarly, easy access and enough space between benches will ensure you don’t start feeling cramped with other people working around you. To provide adequate space, aim to have more than 1 metre of space between kitchen bench tops, but not more than 1.5 metres. If your kitchen is a heavy traffic area, you may also wish to think about extra wide lanes and where the traffic is coming from.
Poor ventilation and extraction
Old cooking smells, fumes, condensation and mould can make a kitchen turn into a very unpleasant place in a short period of time and can greatly reduce the re-sale value of a house. To avoid this you need to ensure the room is properly ventilated. If you’re planning a new kitchen, there are several key items that you should pay attention to in your design so that you wind up with a stylish but well-ventilated space that adds to your kitchen’s safety, air quality and energy efficiency.
As your oven and cook top will be the primary sources of fumes, grease and other contaminants in the room, they must have a vent system that pulls the odours and moisture outside your home. Range hoods are the most common solution and it’s important to choose the right size when you plan your kitchen. For the most effective ventilation, the range hood should overhang the front and sides of the cook top by 5-10cms. Similarly, an exhaust fan system that’s large enough for your kitchen is also needed, coupled with an assessment of how air flows through your kitchen and the noise it may contribute to the surrounding areas.
Poorly planned sockets and switches
Once many of the major planning decisions have been made, people tend to turn to the task of lighting. From a practical point of the view this can be a mistake as all functionality and aesthetics revolve around the lights you have, and the flexibility they can provide. Work areas will require bright lighting, while places of congregation and consumption might benefit from subdued strengths and ambient options. Similarly, warm light will always be preferred, and the ability to create different patterns and avoid shadowing will be a central concern of your ceiling and task lighting.
With LED light strips, interior lights in cupboards, recessed lights and down lights all available, a layered lighting arrangement will be important and attractive, so too the circuits upon which they run. Separate circuits will allow variety and flexibility with lighting levels and give you the opportunity to experiment with different technologies. Regardless of what you choose, remember to avoid shadows by placing your light in front on the function area you want lit.
For further kitchen inspiration and ideas check out our Gallery page or follow us on Instagram. You’re also more than welcome to visit our facility in Brooklyn – we’ll be able to talk through your kitchen dreams in more detail and show you through our display kitchen. Call us on 03 9316 6000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.