The heart of the home
Friday, 01 June 2012

The heart of the home

Interior designer Sarah Berry advises on how to keep your kitchen chic

Kitchens are one of the most important parts of your home. Even if you’re not an avid cook, I’m guessing you still have to prepare meals and eat, and as kitchens have become such an integrated part of daily life with seamless living/eating/cooking spaces it’s well worth spending the most you can afford and investing some time and thought on the layout and finish.

The layout is absolutely vital. There is a principle that professional designers apply to kitchens, called the ‘Golden Triangle.' This refers to the three main areas of use in a kitchen: the fridge, sink and oven/hob and placing them in a triangular configuration for ease of use. Ideally these zones should be no more than three metres apart to minimise travel between each area. If you use this basic premise you should have a well-planned, easy to use kitchen. 

Lighting is the second most important feature. Try cooking in a badly lit kitchen and you will understand the value and importance placed on properly considered task lighting. Have good recessed spotlights on dimmers for general use, cleaning etc. Lights under your cabinets will give you focussed preparation lighting for your chopping and assembling on your worktops and hang some decorative pendants over your island if you have one.Drawer under the sink

Drawers maximise storage space, allowing you to use all of the depth of your cupboards. How many of us have cupboards with items that are relegated to the deep dark recesses and never see light of day as you have to move everything out to reach them? Liberate your mandolin/food processer/ salad spinner and improve your cooking by installing deep drawers on smooth, strong runners so you can immediately access (and therefore use) everything. An unexpected use of a drawer is underneath the sink, something I always add to kitchens I design, a shallow, open drawer allows you easy access to all your cleaning products.

Islands are a great addition to any kitchen. If you’re lucky enough to have the space for one, I definitely recommend it. They make a great place to cook, share meals, eat, and entertain.

Keep your kitchen neutral. Brightly coloured kitchens tend to be a mistake and can be a big problem when it comes to selling your house. The fashion now is starting to veer away from the ubiquitous white gloss units to wooden family style kitchens where colours can be more easily updated and changed, making it easier to personalise your space and repaint at the time of selling, so you can be a little more adventurous with this style.

Integrate your appliances. Plan your kitchen so that your washing machine, bin, dishwasher etc are all hidden behind doors. This instantly updates and streamlines the kitchen and creates a pleasant uniformity. I also like to conceal fridges and freezers, I'm rather tired of stainless steel appliances, they're so cold and boring.

I love... to focus on creating cosy eating spots in kitchens. They always end up being the real hub of the home where homework is done, magazines can be flicked through and idle conversations can be had. I achieve this, where possible, by building in seating niches with simple benches with drawers beneath and a padded cushion on the top, the added storage beneath is a bonus for what is ultimately a delightful and inviting focal spot for your kitchen.

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