Focus on honesty and longevity if you want to design a kitchen that you’ll stay happy in for years to come; honesty with yourself, about how you’ll really use the space, and the longevity of your fixtures and fittings, which should be well-made and timelessly styled, so that they’ll last for years, continue to add value to your property, and avoid looking dated for as long as possible.
Bespoke kitchens are significant investments – of time and expertise, as well as cash – so it’s worth putting as much thought as you can into your ideal design, before you set the refit in motion.
Whether you want to use your kitchen to create artistically complex meals, relax with simple sociable suppers, do homework, or run your business while the kids are at school, one thing will be essential: storage. You’ll probably want to maximise space and make it easy to stay tidy, so ample and accessible storage will be crucial.
The benefits of open shelving
Open shelving lets you find items easily and makes it difficult for even the laziest person to avoid tidying up – they don’t even have to open a cupboard door! Shelving adds an open, relaxed-but-neat feel to your kitchen, along with texture and depth; you’ll be able to see the walls behind, instead of a blank array of cupboard doors, which essentially bring the interior surface about 20cm further forward into the room.
Shelves can be free-standing (for safety, this will require a level floor and a couple of brackets securing the shelves to the wall) or fixed to the walls. The latter option lets you fill more wall-space and accommodate awkward corners, but the walls will need to be strong enough to hold the shelves and their contents – your builder or decorator can advise you here.
Using shelving to divide the space
If you want to split a large kitchen space into separate areas for cooking and dining/working, free-standing shelving is ideal. It acts as a room divider without blocking the view or the light, and provides extra storage for anything you’re happy to have on display – recipe books, fresh fruit and veg, herb and spice jars, ornaments, or your favourite ceramics.
Swivelling corner units and shelving that slides forward as you open the door that conceals it will make light work of stashing groceries, pots and pans – but make sure it’s well made and carefully fitted, because this sort of storage involves some mechanics that can easily become more of a nuisance than a saving grace, if they get stuck or misaligned.
Looking above head height
Shelving that goes right to the ceiling is an excellent way to maximise storage in a smaller space, but you may need a small step ladder or stool to access it and that will need a home when you’re not climbing on it. Avoid storing heavy, precious or regularly needed items at the top, and accept that you will clean less often up here, so keep things covered up.
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