Designing the most important room in the house takes careful planning, but before you get carried away with fancy finishes, decide how you want the space to work for you.
Ask people to name the most-used room in their home, and chances are the answer will be the kitchen. No longer simply a space for cooking and cleaning, today's kitchens are the hub of the home, where you're just as likely to find the kids doing their homework or adults catching up over a glass of wine as you are someone cooking a meal. 'Staying in is the new going out,' says Sue Watson, general manager of AFG Warendorf in the UK. 'We're spending more time in the kitchen, so the overall look is becoming increasingly streamlined with plenty of space for entertaining.'
According to the Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association, the average UK homeowner buying a new kitchen from a specialist showroom spends around £13,000-£15,000 (although it's not uncommon to spend far more), and we look at updating this space every seven years. With such a large investment, it's essential to plan the space as efficiently as possible so it can suit a multitude of uses, taking into consideration your family's needs, the space available and your overall budget.
With greater expectations of what we want our kitchen to look and feel like, there are some key questions to ask before considering any practical or aesthetic elements. First, think about how you want to use the space. 'Brainstorm what you like and don't like about your existing kitchen,' advises Lizzie Beesley, senior designer for Metris and Second Nature. 'The negatives are just as important as the positives as they can help you form a clear idea of what you do and don't need in the new space.' So would you like to incorporate a dining area, will the kids be spending time in there, do you want to entertain in the kitchen on a regular basis, and will your priorities have changed in five years' time? It's all about matching your kitchen to your lifestyle, and gradually you'll start to create a clearer idea of what the new space will consist of.
Words Beth Murton