kitchen design

First Steps in Designing Your Perfect Kitchen

First Steps in Designing Your Perfect Kitchen  

DIY SOS and 60 Minute Makeover interior designer, Homebuilding and Renovating Show regular and kitchen specialist, Julia Kendell, shares how the professionals approach kitchen design…. 

The kitchen is the hub of the home and it needs to function perfectly, look great and provide a centre for enjoyable family experiences. If you feel that your kitchen design falls short of that, then you need to look at it the way a professional designer would. 

Before anything else, ensuring plenty of daylight is a priority. Studies show that we are drawn to and thrive in sunlight and that this impacts on our mood, well-being and productivity. Many people create extra kitchen or family space by extending at the rear of their property. But, particularly if the extension is facing north or east, this can make the existing area a dark and unwelcoming one. 

The solution is to maximise natural daylight by using skylights, roof lanterns or large expanses of glass doors or windows. Look at introducing daylight lighting into dark areas and consider downlights which mimic natural light and benefit the body’s circadian rhythms. For more information, try or 

The obvious choice to create extra space for a kitchen is to extend but it is not a cheap option. Depending on where you live, your builder and your choice of fittings, you could pay anything from £1,500 to £4,000 per square metre for luxury end finishes. And it is worthwhile bearing in mind that the current massive demand for builders and supply shortages are causing high prices and delays. 

Before 2008, people moved 3.6 times after their first house purchase, but that figure has dropped to 1.8 in the past 15 years. People who consult me at the Homebuilding and Renovating shows are talking about ways to create their ‘forever homes’. So maybe an extension is for you but do look at other options before committing to a large build. Could you knock through two rooms or move or block off a doorway to give extra wall space? 

Don’t forget a kitchen extension often means losing precious garden space so don’t plan a 60 square metre extension if half that area would work. If you are using a kitchen designer, ask them to come up with a couple of layouts early in the project to be sure exactly how much additional space you really need. 

Open plan kitchen, dining and living spaces are still popular and can create areas with plenty of space and light which are great for socialising. But the downside can be that there is no way to escape noise and cooking smells or even find some private space. And while open plan can work well for families with small children, you may want to future proof your home to meet the challenges of living with teenagers. 

‘Broken plan’ can offer a solution. Half-height walls to delineate and area and where you can position a sofa, open shelving used as a room divider and sliding doors can all help to create zones and flexibility. As can changing floor levels and installing a mezzanine floor or even using industrial style, steel Crittall windows internally to minimise noise, create different areas and add some architectural interest without losing visual connection. 

Finally, all good designers are looking at sustainability. Give your kitchen longevity by avoiding short-term trends and go for a more classic style preferably using UK-made products. Look for FSC certified timber and Greenguard certified materials to ensure low chemical emissions and install energy efficient lighting and appliances such as low water usage taps.  

Consider using reclaimed elements or kitchen workshops made with a high percentage of recycled materials. Vintage, free-standing kitchen units add character to a kitchen and second-hand or ex-display kitchens can be sourced online. And don’t forget to sell your own old kitchen units! 

Julia Kendell is the owner and lead designer at Kendell+Co. She will be giving design advice at the Southern Homebuilding & Renovating Show, 25-26 June, Sandown Park, Surrey and at the London Homebuilding & Renovating Show, 30 September –2 October, Excel, London.

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