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The kitchen is the heart of the home. More than a space to prepare food – though that’s a very important part of it – the kitchen is increasingly where the family will come together, where your children will hang out, where you might work.
As such, re-modelling a kitchen is a difficult balancing act and, unlike most other rooms that you can easily repaint or re-arrange, the choices you make will likely last the next 10 years.
So, how do you get it right? Follow these four steps, in order, and you’ll be well on your way!

Layout First
Though it’s tempting to dive into the exciting choices of new worktops or state-of-the-art cooking appliances, it’s crucial to start with the layout – where will everything go? Getting this right will not only make sure your kitchen is as practical as it will be beautiful, it will also help you scope out the whole project.
Start with the golden triangle: the path between the sink, fridge and the stove. This functional path will be the one you follow many, many times every day. If you have to walk around a kitchen island or quirky countertop in this path, it’s going to get annoying very quickly. To help you plan, look at your current layout and walk the triangle several times over (or make three cups of tea in a row to see it in action).
If the flow is good already, don’t feel you have to change it. If it’s not, consider how you could improve it and keep it obstacle free. Keep an eye on walkway space and remember to leave a minimum of 1m of floorspace between two worktops to allow for opening doors and drawers.
If you are moving things around, try to put the sink in front of a window. You’ll spend the most boring part of your time in the kitchen at the sink so a great view and some natural light can really make a difference.
Similarly, consider where the stove might go in regards to venting – your whole house will benefit from fresher air if you can vent the kitchen externally rather than just using a filtered extractor fan. Consider how you could reduce venting runs to channel the air outside.
Finally, as you set up these key “task” areas, think of your lighting needs. No-one likes washing up, prepping or cooking in the gloom so plan for spot lighting here as well as at the meal or work table if you’re having one.

Choose Your Appliances
Right, that part was dull – but essential – now the fun can start!
It's much easier to arrange furniture and counters to fit your key appliances than the other way around, so start choosing and planning in your fridge, freezer, dish washer, oven, stove, microwave and, if you’re putting them in the kitchen, your washing machine and tumble dryer.
As you’re doing this, consider if you’ll need to move gas or water pipes, install new power sockets and, if you’re in an older house, if you’re kitchen wiring can even handle the big double oven you’re one step away from buying. If you’ve budgeted for these costs, great. If not, you may have to re-plan where things go or even choose different models to handle the limitations of your home.
After the big appliances, think about the smaller ones you’ll want on the countertop (kettle, toaster, the microwave if it’s not built-in) as well as the objects you’ll also have there. Are you giving yourself enough counter space? What plugs do you need and where?
Don’t forget the rubbish bin! A lot of mess comes through a kitchen, including recycling, so save a space or cubby where you can keep the bins handy but unobtrusive. I’m a big fan of pedal bins with separate compartments for rubbish and recycling.

Overall Style and Materials
OK, so now we know what’s going where, it’s time to look at the key furniture and style that will help dictate the colours, shapes and materials you use.
If you’re planning on keeping an “on-trend” kitchen, consider more modular furniture like Ikea’s Metod range. What you lose out on in terms of overall build quality, you gain in terms of being able to change doors, colours and furniture easily and at relatively low cost.
If you’re making a long term choice, try to avoid fads and choose something simple, timeless and to your tastes. Whether you prefer a rustic homely kitchen or clean, industrial lines, keep to simple colours and natural materials for a lasting looking.
When choosing the counter and flooring materials, look into the level of upkeep they require. Expensive stone, metal or natural wood counters can need maintenance and careful treatment – so make sure you’re happy to commit to that routine. If not, a good quality laminate might be a better choice.
If your kitchen’s small, choose a light colour palette. Dark colours schemes can shrink small spaces so choose light shades for kitchen cabinets and include glass or open front units to let more natural light around.
Finishing Touches
Finally, this is where you can really put your mark on a kitchen. Choose accessories and furniture that complement your style and inject colour and personality into the space. Think of utensil holders, spice racks, hooks, rails, artwork, fruit bowls, an area for books, treasured objects you want to display.
For example, for a fresh, modern look, you can buy Kartell furniture online to choose clean, contemporary chairs and tables, then complement it with airy, open art like this city skyline illustration.

Whatever you choose, make sure to take your time. Talk to designers, browse Houzz, and don’t be afraid to travel for a little inspiration. When I did my kitchen, I travelled all over Sussex and even went to kitchen showrooms in Surrey for ideas and advice. You can learn a lot online but there’s no comparison to seeing and touching the products you’ll be living with for the next 10 years!

Choosing a kitchen is a big undertaking but one that will give you a lot of long-term pleasure when you get it right and make the kitchen the soul of your home.

Article by Nathalie Martin.