Kitchen Design – 5 Key Steps to Success

By Natalie McDonald

Kitchens are one of the largest investments in a home when building or renovating and designed well will add much more than their equivalent value. Here are 5 key steps to ensure you maximize your return on your investment:

1. Form and Function

Give equal consideration to what you would like your kitchen to do functionally, as well as how you would like it to look, a good design outcome must exhibit both creativity and functionality. For example what do you like to cook and how would your kitchen best do this? Do you have two people cooking in the kitchen together? Do you have any large appliances that need to be accommodated or additional storage needs? No point spending money on a beautiful new kitchen if you still have the same old storage problems, so write yourself a checklist of all your requirements. Secondly, as a good visual reference invest in some books or magazines that give you some inspiration and ideas of what your ideal kitchen would look like.

2. Part of the Whole Picture

Give careful consideration to the surrounding Living Zones of your home, when choosing the best layout, location and look for your new kitchen. Kitchens today form the dynamic heart of the home rather than being a separate, self-contained entity of the past. Consider removing a wall in the renovation process rather than compromising your new design because of current spatial limitations, the initial cost will be insignificant if it greatly improves your daily living.

3. Layout

Once you know what layout works best for you and your home, ensure that your three main work areas being your sink, fridge and oven/cooktop are close enough to each other that they function well when cooking. Old schools of thought used to refer to this as the ‘golden triangle’ with each element positioned on one of the three sides of a triangle. This can be restrictive so the best approach is for all three elements to be no further than 3 metres apart so that they can be easily accessed during cooking. If you are considering a galley style kitchen which has two parallel work surfaces make sure that you have enough circulation space so two people can comfortable pass one another when in the kitchen together. Finally, when planning your layout ensure you have adequate room adjacent to your fridge, as most fridge doors open beyond 90 degrees. It sounds simple but many kitchens have poorly designed fridge recesses where the doors cannot open fully for cleaning and removal of drawers because they are not properly planned.

4. Budget

When considering how much to invest in your kitchen, make sure it is of a standard that would be expected of any future purchasers, a cheaper alternative may not be the best long-term investment for your properties re-sale value or your kitchen’s longevity. Materials, finishes and appliances should be the three main considerations of your budget, not as much the Kitchen Manufacturer. Check any large variation in price is not reflective of poor quality materials and workmanship. Similarly check what level of Warranty Insurance they have for both their workmanship and their supplied product, otherwise a short-term gain may give you long-term pain.

5. Engage a Qualified Designer

Finally, if you are investing a substantial amount of money into your kitchen it is worth engaging the services of a good Designer, especially if you are considering structural modifications. Generally there is no such thing as a “free design service,” it will either be built into the cost of your kitchen or frankly not worth paying for. Kitchen Manufacturers that offer Qualified Kitchen Designer services will restrict you to use their services to pay their designers wages. Engaging the services of an independent Kitchen Designer or Interior Designer to draw up your plans for you will give you more flexibility and allow you to ethically shop around. An Interior Designer will be more qualified to assist you with space planning and can give you a more holistic approach to your design process.

Natalie McDonald is qualified Interior Design professional and business owner of Look Interior Design based in Sydney, Australia. For more useful information and examples of her work visit her website at

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