The Zero Stress Guide to Kitchens


What You Need To Know Before You Buy a Kitchen

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Planning the kitchen layout

Top tips

  • Think about who you will use your kitchen – and how
  • Retain existing service points where possible
  • Keep the ‘magic triangle’ of sink, cooker and fridge

Designing a new kitchen is not as easy as it first appears so, in an age when virtually all kitchen suppliers provide free advice and 3-D computer-generated mock-ups, most people simply hand over their kitchen measurements and ask to see a plan.

kitchen layout

You can’t opt out entirely, though, because only you can decide what kind of kitchen you want. Will it be fitted or free-standing? Off the shelf or bespoke? What type of units, flooring, lighting … so many decisions to make. However, any kitchen retailer worth his salt will know what questions to ask before starting a design.

The kitchen is the heart of the home so while food preparation may be the main activity it is rarely the only one. Your lifestyle will impact on how you plan to use your kitchen – it may also be used for laundry, dining, entertaining, socialising – even for homework or as an office.

Single people and childless couples will have different requirements from families with small offspring. Similarly, the needs of those who dine out frequently will differ greatly from those of families who take all their meals together at home.

Whatever your lifestyle, though, the physical dimensions of your kitchen will, to some extent, determine what equipment you have and where you put it. Remember not to overfill small kitchens – these should have a simple, uncluttered look unless you want permanent claustrophobia.

Among your first decisions is where to site your sink, drainer and dishwasher – remembering to retain the position of existing service points if possible, since re-wiring and re-plumbing can cut a swathe through your budget. Bear in mind, though, that track lighting above the worksurfaces is a real boon – alterations to existing wiring to incorporate this and spot lighting above cooking and preparation areas shouldn’t break the bank. And work out where electrical appliances will go to ensure you have plenty of power points where you need them. If your kitchen is large enough to dine in, work out where to site the table or breakfast bar and stools/chairs. In a big kitchen the dining area will take a substantial part of the space. Decide which part of the room you want to commit to seating and work your kitchen around it.

Think, too, about heating. Radiators are fine but, with space at a premium in most kitchens, underfloor heating is a popular option that can be used under tiled, slate and timber flooring. As well as freeing up precious floor and wall space, the advantages include easy installation, low running costs and no maintenance required.

magic triangleRemember, too, the ‘magic triangle’ of sink, cooker and fridge and keep these three pieces of equipment close together for maximum efficiency, with your food preparation area nearby, if possible between the sink and cooker. In a single galley kitchen, these items will have to be condensed into a line rather than a triangle.

If possible, too, position the fridge between the main entrance and the main cooking area. This gives other members of the household easy access without disturbing the cook! Never put the fridge next to the cooker, as the difference in temperature will make both appliances work less efficiently.

Planning for safety

  • Position the dishwasher and washing machine near the sink and away from the cooking area
  • Keep the cooking area away from doors or passageways
  • Electricity sockets should be at least one metre away from any source of water
  • The extractor fan must be at least 750mm above the hob to avoid over-heating
  • Ideally allow at least 1.2 metres in front of any unit or appliance with a door

There is more information of kitchen layouts at



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