Island style: kitchens

The kitchen is most definitely the most important room in most homes. If you have the opportunity to design your own kitchen, make sure you collaborate with the person in your life who will use it the most. There is nothing worse than stepping into a kitchen that looks fabulous but makes working in it impossible. The traditional algorithm of fridge, sink and cooktop forming a triangle no more than 1.5 metres apart doesn’t actually fit all home designs so think more in terms of limiting the number of steps between work surfaces and these main stations rather than hinging everything on the triangle trope.

Most contemporary designs incorporate the kitchen into the living and dining area, opting for an open-plan style. It comes down to personal taste and some cooks like there to be a separation between the kitchen and the rest of the house. Keep in mind the kitchen needs to accommodate all the functions you and your family require of it. Think long and hard about how you want to use this space. If you’re a homework helper while cooking type of person, then make sure you supply seating and a dedicated workspace. If you’re a bleary-eyed breakfast maker, you’ll need a breakfast bar with easy access to bowls and spoons. If you’re vertically challenged or you want your kids to be able to prepare their own meals, you’ll need to consider bench height and cupboard access. Your architect and designer will be able to help you make the choice that best suits your lifestyle but whichever way you choose to go the following tips still apply.

Before you get started with your perfect design make a list of all the appliances you use frequently so that nothing is left without a home. Not even a clutterbug can prepare meals on a cluttered work surface. Ensuring everything has a place to go leaves workbenches clear, your design sparkling and all those ugly cords and electrical goods out of sight. Making an inventory before completing your design will also let you know where you need to place electrical outlets.

Efficient storage is key to good kitchen design so try to visualise yourself preparing a meal and think carefully about where you need your spices, dry goods and implements to be. Forgo cupboards for deep drawers on both sides of your cooking range. There’s nothing worse than having to get down on your hands and knees to rummage in the back of a cupboard. Drawers provide a full view of all your pots and pans and save your knee joints in the process.

Vertical storage leaves are perfect for cooking sheets and baking trays and if you have any excess vertical gaps left over between cabinets consider using it to hide your chopping boards. Choose cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling to avoid that nasty dust-trap you get above them and to elongate the room, adding height and spaciousness. If the space is available, consider placing a thin top drawer with a slanted insert for spices near your cooker. Being able to open the drawer at crucial moments during cooking and pick out exactly the spice you need makes for a much more pleasant process.

Recycling is par for the course these days so consider creating your trash area to combine both organic and recyclables. Creating a trash solution early in the design process will mean the difference between tidy and efficient recycling and having to find a workaround after the fact. Make sure your trash station is situated near the sink and the dishwasher to make scraping and rinsing a cinch.

Kitchen lighting is frequently left as an afterthought but the cooks in the family need to be appropriately illuminated. Pendant lights are where you can let your personal taste shine and they’ll work well to cast a mood, but they’ll also cast a shadow over the chopping board so make sure you add lighting concealed within the valance above the work surface too.

The kitchen is the heart of the home where meals are prepared and shared, families are united after a day out in the wild and soothing cups of tea are enjoyed with cake and gossip. It’s the location of heart-to-hearts, homework hassles and too many cookies – not to mention late night chats and cocktails at parties. The contours of our kitchens soothe hangovers and support health kicks, its walls absorb laughter and tears and decades of herbs and spice and everything nice, so make sure you give yourself enough time and space to get your design just so.