Five Kitchen Design Tips

In the first post on kitchen design we looked at the basics that anyone planning a kitchen needs to know. In this post, we look at some of the important details that can make the difference between a good kitchen and a great kitchen.

1 Be Practical

A kitchen is a living, breathing, working space. It helps to think of it in those terms. Imagine you are in the kitchen making a cup of tea. Where is the kettle, the mugs, the tea-bags and where are you standing?

Thinking about how you are actually going to use the kitchen day to day will help you achieve a good design. Plan where things are going to go: tinned goods, snacks, dry goods, tableware, dining ware and so on.

When designing my new kitchen, I decided to store the plates and tableware close to the hob. As a keen cook, it was important that cooked food was easy to serve up.

Work out how you will use the kitchen. This will help to plan a kitchen that works for your lifestyle.
Work out how you will use the kitchen. This will help to plan a kitchen that works for your lifestyle.

2. Fire and Water

The two most important elements of the kitchen are the hob and sink. Everything revolves around them so choose their positions carefully. Then work out where you need cupboards, drawers or shelves.

In my current kitchen, the hob and sink are opposite each other. This means I chop the vegetables, put them in a colander, walk to the sink, wash them and walk back. Despite all my efforts, a few drops of water always end up on the floor. It is very annoying.

It was important to resolve this issue in the new kitchen. The sink and hob will be on the same side so no more damp floors.

The L-shape kitchen is a classic approach. Having the hob and sink closer together makes the space more functional. For avid cooks these details will make a kitchen more pleasurable to use.

3. Don’t rush in

In almost every kitchen image there is a breakfast bar. It has become ubiquitous. Before you rush ahead to fall in line, ask yourself how and when you will use the bar. The questions you need to consider: who is going to be sitting at the bar? when? do you need stools at a bar as well as a dining table?

An old friend had a breakfast bar and we would often sit there while having pre-dinner drinks. It was rarely comfortable. For another friend, the bar stools simply collect dust.

Perhaps a bar will work for you. That’s fine. Just think about it before you sacrifice storage space and spend money on furniture that no-one will use.

For our new kitchen, we have opted for bench seating that looks out over the garden. The idea is to create a cosy nook that is enjoyable for dining, reading, working and a useful space for parties and BBQs. We also have a separate formal dining table.

Do you really need a breakfast bar? Will you use it? Perhaps a better solution is bench seating. The seating can double up as storage space.
Do you really need a breakfast bar? Perhaps a better solution is bench seating. The seating can double up as storage space. It creates a cosy nook in your kitchen away from the work space.

4. Design Details

As with all good design, the magic lies in the details: open shelves for cook books and ornaments, glass door cabinets to show off your best glasses or tableware, wall space for art or a fun chalk board. These details will transform an ordinary kitchen into a space to show off your personality and style.

tom howley floor to ceiling kitchen cabinets
Wall cabinets that reach the ceiling are a great way to make a kitchen look luxurious. The gap that is usually left is simply space for your cupboards to gather dust. The feature cabinets in this Tom Howely kitchen are a brilliant touch.

5. Lighting

It is so often an after-thought and yet it makes a crucial difference. Think about lighting carefully.

Spot lighting is useful to give a soft overall light to the space. Task lighting, such as under-cabinets lights, will ensure you can cook safely. Finally, feature lighting such as LED strips along the bottom of cabinets or pendants over an island can add a touch of glamour.

Layering lighting in these different ways will give you flexibility to change the atmosphere of the space depending on how you are using it. This is particularly important when the kitchen is part of an open-plan living space.


These two posts sum up what I have learnt in planning and designing our new kitchen. In coming months, I will post details of the new kitchen as it progresses.

Have you recently planned a new kitchen? Let us know what your tips are for good kitchen design.

Feature image: kitchen by Warendorf

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