The most crucial question to consider is whether the kitchen is in the right place. For instance, it may make sense to move the kitchen from the ground floor to the basement so that it leads onto the garden, thus making it easier to transfer food for outdoor dining and barbecues and hang laundry on a washing line. You can also keep an eye on young children playing outside while preparing meals. Alternatively, moving the kitchen to the top floor may offer better light and space, while bedrooms may benefit from being relocated to a cool basement. Design the layout of your house around how you live — if the kitchen is the centre of your home, reshuffle the rooms accordingly, so the kitchen gets the best location and optimum natural light. If you are fortunate enough to be able to choose which direction your kitchen will face, in a new-build house or a total refurbishment, it is a good idea to orientate it towards the sunrise. This will flood the room with morning light, and give you an opportunity to utilise the solar energy. Even if you don’t relocate the kitchen to another room, you may want to restructure the space by removing or moving walls, windows or doors. It you are considering any structural alterations, always seek professional advice.
Whether your kitchen is a separate room or an open-plan, inclusive layout, it should blend smoothly with entrances, halls and staircases. If the kitchen leads onto the garden, you may consider adding a back-door porch or lobby to keep coats, umbrellas and shoes out and the heat in or build on an extra larder it north-facing. And if your kitchen is the main ‘corridor’ from the entrance of the house to the back garden and doubles up as a busy thoroughfare, it may be wise to add another back exit elsewhere. A huge, weathered table can be the focus of family activity and the inspiration for the rustic kitchen pictured. The kitchen units neatly screen off the utility area and are coated with blackboard paint while the black rubber flooring injects a hint of metropolitan style into the otherwise simple scheme. If this is impossible, make sure the primary work area is sited away from the two doors and out of the way of passing traffic. Professional advice, will often cast a fresh perspective on space and location. When it comes to kitchen planning, bigger isn’t necessarily better. Layout is more important than size and large kitchens are only practical if the appliances and storage units are ergonomically arranged. A smaller kitchen does not mean compromising on function or sacrificing style. And in practical terms, a smaller surface area means you will spend less on materials and so afford better-quality ones.
If you intend to add a room or alter any part of the front elevation (particularly if you live in a conservation area), you will usually require planning permission. It is a good idea to contact the planning department at a very early stage, even before commissioning any drawings or plans. They can indicate what is acceptable and what is not, and, in most cases, advise whether planning permission is required, saving you time and possibly money. If you intend to convert a disused basement into a kitchen, you may have to notify the planning authorities of a change of use. And if you live in a listed building, you will require listed building consent for any alteration that affects its character or setting. Any structural alterations — for example, putting a door in a structural wall or removing a chimney breast will require building regulations approval, even if you do not need planning permission. If you hire an architect or interior designer, it is their responsibility to seek such permission. If you do the work yourself, start with the building inspector and ask to be referred to any other organisation whose permission is required.
In the above picture, a chrome kettle and toaster are the only signs of ornamentation in this open-plan kitchen, which is part of a loft apartment in a 1 920s warehouse conversion. A simple bar separates the kitchen from the dining area. The well-planned kitchen ensures the cook has everything to hand. Here, a seemingly effortless mix of unfitted units, freestanding appliances and open shelving belies the meticulous planning and organisation that has gone into the design.