1. IS YOUR KITCHEN LAYOUT PROPERLY SPACE-PLANNED?
This really comes into the remit of a kitchen designer, but if you're designing your kitchen yourself, ensure you get the following spot on:
Is everything where you need it? Consider how and where you use the different items in your kitchen, and place everything conveniently. Breakfast cereals and bowls should be near the breakfast table or kitchen island, for example. Plate storage and the bin should be as near as possible to the dishwasher, which, ideally, should be near the sink. Bread board and bread storage near the toaster; cups near the teapot or boiling water tap.
'If you’re installing your hob on an island, it’s a good idea to incorporate a prep sink on the island too so that you don’t have to walk across a main kitchen thoroughfare with pans of boiling water to reach the main sink. Adding a prep sink also helps to zone the different areas of the room, which is useful if there’s often more than one person working in the kitchen at the same time.'
Is the gap between cabinetry runs wide enough? Designing a galley kitchen? Or perhaps installing a kitchen island? Paths through the kitchen should be 1m wide, and through cooking zones, at least 1.25m wide.
Have you got the direction of traffic right? All kitchens lead off other rooms and often overlook a garden, so getting the passage between the various spaces right is vital, especially so if you're designing an open plan kitchen, diner and living space or a planning a family kitchen. Ideally, the layout of the kitchen should look natural but you also want to ensure that the cooking zone isn't the room's main thoroughfare. Why? From a safety point of view, you don't want children catching pan handles as they pass; and, from a cook's point of view, you don't want to be constantly moving out of the way of people passing through. And if your kids constantly access the fridge or cupboards for snacks, that might mean considering the location of these two zones carefully, too.
2. CHOOSE THE RIGHT COLOUR FOR YOUR KITCHEN CABINETS
Just as you would in your living room, base the choice of your kitchen cabinet colour on how it will make the room feel. This is largely down to the amount of natural daylight the room receives, and where in the room the kitchen sits. So, if you're designing a kitchen extension with the dining and living areas overlooking the garden, and the kitchen units at the darker end of the room, light-coloured cabinetry will reflect light around back into that part of the room, making it feel larger.
If, on the other hand, your kitchen is sitting within a south-facing, light-filled room, darker units are not only entirely suitable, they might actually make the kitchen feel more homely.
Choosing the right colour for kitchen cabinets isn't just about light, though. Picking a grainy wood finish for your units will introduce texture and interest into an otherwise featureless room – perhaps a contemporary extension that has no period details.
Or perhaps you want to introduce a bold colour to your kitchen? Popular when painting cabinetry, bright colours add instant personality to the kitchen; however, this should be done with caution: you have to be sure you will love your kitchen's bright colour scheme now and in the future, and it's not wise to choose a bold colour if you think you might sell within five to 10 years. You could of course always paint your kitchen cabinetry yourself and then revert back when you get tired of it or come to sell your home. Check out our guide to painting kitchen cabinets to find out how.
Still love the idea of a bold kitchen colour? Limit it to a painted kitchen island – you'll get maximum impact that you can easily transform.
Finally, the colour of your kitchen cabinets should, ideally, reflect the colours used elsewhere in your home. This goes for every room – if it echoes the themes and schemes of all the others, your home will feel more cohesive and will flow better overall.
3. PICK THE RIGHT FINISH FOR YOUR KITCHEN UNITS
High-gloss, mid-sheen or matt finish for your kitchen cabinetry? This is really down to the style of your home. If it's contemporary, high-gloss units will fit right in, as will mid-sheen and matt finishes. If it's a traditional home or period property, steer clear of high-gloss and stick to mid-sheen or matt finish cabinetry.
'If you do going for high-gloss units, use natural wood elsewhere in the scheme – in the flooring, worktops or as other elements – to soften a potentially clinical feel and to help to create a more family-friendly, contemporary environment. Inject colour and texture where possible, with fabric sofas or dining chair coverings.'
It's always worth doing your research on both cabinet colours and finishes – ask your kitchen designer the right questions, and see if you can take cabinet door samples home to see how they will look in your room's light, rather than under showroom lighting. Check out our 25 kitchen cabinet ideas, too.
A bar area at the end of a run of kitchen units complete with copper coating and wooden bar stools
4. IS YOUR KITCHEN CABINET DESIGN RIGHT?
Consider the kitchen cabinet style you want from a purely aesthetic view. You may love the traditional feel of a Shaker style kitchen, but would the sleek lines of a handleless, ultra-modern kitchen suit your contemporary kitchen extension better? Could a curved kitchen be more sympathetic to your small kitchen's proportions? How do the cabinets' handles and knobs complement other fittings in your home?
5. OPT FOR THE BEST WORKTOPS FOR YOUR KITCHEN
Choosing the best kitchen worktop types is as important as getting the cabinetry colour and finish right. If you're installing a high gloss, contemporary kitchen, this is the opportunity to introduce warm texture, such as wood; if your room has period detailing, such as a marble fire surround, perhaps marble worktops – or composite lookalikes – will be a good way to tie the scheme together; or perhaps you'd like to mix and match different worktop materials within a run of units and a kitchen island to add interest to the room?
If you're designing a stylish kitchen on a budget, you might have scrimped on the cabinetry or be planning to fit your kitchen yourself – either way, good quality, handsome kitchen worktops will lift the room instantly.