planning per kitchenGeorge Clarke gives his top tips on planning the perfect Kitchen

The domestic kitchen is one of the most complex spaces in a home, and it takes a lot of time and careful thought to get it right. It's amazing how the role of the kitchen in Britain has changed over the past 50 years. It used to be the case that the culinary space was often very functional and utilitarian, separate from other rooms and unseen by visitors, but today,
the kitchen is very much the heart of the home – it's where families tend to gather and socialise. The room is now a piece of product design where functionality isn't enough; it needs to look beautiful, too.

There are so many decisions to make when designing and selecting your kitchen, and the construction of it requires many different trads– joiners, plumbers, electricians, tilers and decorators – so it is important to get everything co-ordinated at the design stage.

Before you even meet with a kitchen company or a designer, it is worth trying to draw up a few layouts yourself. Your kitchen has to work for you and it needs to suit the way that you live – the design of a kitchen for your family may be very different from a kitchen for my family, even though the space is the same. I would begin with measuring the available space and coming up with a very basic existing plan, to scale, on a sheet of grid paper. You can then test various layouts. This is a really useful exercise, and even if you don't solve all the issues, the fact that you have come up with ideas yourself means you are in a better position to brief a kitchen designer about what you do and don't like. The designer can then take your drawings and push them on to the next level, and they will help you with everything from choosing styles and materials to sourcing fixtures and fittings.

Make sure you leave enough time to carefully consider all of the options available to you. Even once the design has been finalised on paper, it is useful to mark out the layout of how your kitchen is going to work using masking tape on the floor, so you can really envisage the layout. I know of one client who mocked up his entire kitchen using cardboard boxes in order to see exactly how it worked in three dimensions, but I'm not sure you need to go that far.


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