Interior designers know how to find the right balance between functionality and aesthetics. However, in some areas of the home, one eclipses the other, at least at the start. This can be a challenge for many homeowners because emotions lead them to focus on the more exciting and glamorous part of the design process – the style, the materials and finishing touches.
A kitchen is one of those spaces in the home where function must take precedence over form from the outset of the design process. Think about why we have a kitchen in the first place. More than a space that looks beautiful in the home and stores things, it is also a space to prepare meals, to bake for the sheer pleasure of it (for those so inclined), to gather, to share stories and a meal, and to feed the soul. If your kitchen doesn’t facilitate all of those things (or at least the things you want it for), it will be reduced to a showpiece in the home and you may find yourself ordering takeaway more often than you should and losing the joy you once had for cooking. If your kitchen isn’t designed in a methodical, objective manner, the outcome will be far from ideal and fixing the mistakes can be extremely costly.
Let’s face it, a new kitchen is expensive, often more expensive than purchasing a new car. So planning the process should never be taken lightly. Before you have a new kitchen designed for your home, be realistic about the money you will spend. Start by working out your budget and stick to it.
Once you have determined your budget, ask yourself, ‘What do I have and what do I need to keep?’ Do a thorough inventory of your existing cupboards and drawers. Be realistic and ruthless. Discard or give away anything you don’t want or need. The key here is to make that decision and stick to it. This process makes it easier to identify what elements have to be accommodated within the joinery when planning a new layout. For instance, if you haven’t used your toasted sandwich press and ice-cream maker in two years, do you really need to hold on to them? Of course, if you do use several appliances on a regular basis, a butlers pantry or appliance cupboard would be a great addition to your new kitchen design. Do you store a mountain of non-perishable goods? Is it important to continue to do so in your new kitchen? In that case a walk-in pantry or cleverly designed storage cabinets that make it easy to see and access your herbs, spices and other non-perishables would be essential.
Now that you know your budget and what needs to be housed, the next consideration is to know your spatial limits. How prepared are you to move certain services to support the best functional layout for your kitchen and the way you use it? This must be established before you start the design planning stage. Notice how we haven’t even mentioned the style and finishes yet? Like cooking a recipe, you don’t garnish and present the dish until all steps have been completed in sequential order. Get the above three elements right from the start and you will have the right foundation for designing a kitchen that works as well as it looks.