Your Step-by-Step Guide to Planning a Kitchen
Saturday, 21 August 2021
Whether you are ripping out and starting a fresh or sprucing up what you have, choosing a new kitchen is one of the most exciting projects when it comes to renovating the home. It can also be the most expensive and stressful. From picking the right style to suit your daily life to finding a designer and agreeing the layout, how to plan a kitchen involves a lot of thought. However tempted you are to rush into a showroom and choose your design, it’s vital that you take plenty of time to consider what it is you really want.
Breaking the planning process into manageable steps will make the process of planning your dream kitchen a little easier. Think of it as a journey, and give each step all the time and consideration it needs. We here at Simply Kitchens make sure we are with you every step of the way throughout your journey so follow these simple steps (as featured in Ideal Home) on how to plan a kitchen, from inspiration to installation.
How to plan a kitchen: step-by-step
First have a good clear-out, so you're not factoring in items you haven't used for years. Now take a look around your existing kitchen and make a list of all the things you like and dislike about it. This could be anything from how much storage there is - and where it is - to the types of appliances and colour of the cabinetry. This will help you focus on retaining or improving particular aspects, avoiding common mistakes and what not to do when designing a kitchen
Assess all your needs
The next thing to address is what the kitchen is going to be used for. It sounds obvious, but you need to think about who will be primarily using the kitchen, what sort of meals will they be cooking, how often you'll want to entertain and whether you need separate areas for dining and doing the laundry. Once you have a good idea of what you need, as well as what you want, you're on your way. Think about whether the existing space and layout works or if it would benefit from a kitchen extension. The most common building work involves knocking down a wall between kitchen and dining room - creating a more open-plan feel if you have the chance.
If you're planning a larger refit or build, make sure you talk to your local council about Planning Permission or Building Regulations approval. Visit the Planning Portal (http://planningportal.gov.uk) Key questions to ask yourself What you don't like about your current kitchen?
- How do you want the new space to work?
- Are you a lover of modern or traditional design?
- What's your total budget?
- What are your top 5 kitchen must-haves?
Calculate a Budget
Before you start selecting the finest Granite worktops and the latest electrical gadgets, set yourself a budget with an upper limit that you know you cannot go over. Remember, plan for the unexpected! Once the old kitchen is ripped out, you never know what might lie beneath and there could be costly problems to fix before you go any further. Make a list of all the elements you'll need to allow for; cabinets, worktops and kitchen splashback ideas, sink, tap and appliances. If you want to create the wow factor, there are plenty of ways to do so with LED lighting, electric doors and smart storage solutions but these will cost extra, so be prepared to compromise if budget is tight.
Open shelving is less expensive than closed cupboards, for example, while capacious low-level, pull-out storage may mean you need fewer wall units, which saves on cost. Then there are the installation costs, any preparation work such as plastering and painting, heating and flooring, as well as plumbing, gas and electrical work. Don't forget to include all plumbing, electrics and builders quotes into your overall budget as they're quite easy to leave out in the heat of the moment. It's good to make sure your budget includes a 10 per cent contingency fund, to cover any unexpected extra costs. top tips on where to spend and where to save: Always go for the best worktops you can afford, as they are one of the most hardworking elements of any kitchen. Granite, quartz and solid surfaces are all good investments as they are tough, durable and will give your kitchen a luxurious finish. Next, make sure your cabinets are of good quality. Don’t be tempted to skimp on thin carcasses, as they’ll not last very long. You want at least a 15mm thickness all round – if not more. Think about savings on your choice of doors. We can't all afford rich wood veneers, so why not recreate the same look with a laminate or PVC foil finish instead? Even hi-gloss doors come in different price brackets depending on whether they are lacquered or laminated.
Spend wisely on appliances too, buying the best oven and hob you can afford – but perhaps consider a less expensive brand for the laundry and do without the coffee machine and wine cooler. It’s all about compromise if your budget is under strain, so make sure you spend on the things that matter – you can always add luxury small appliances and accessories in years to come.
Consider Plumbing and Heating
Will you be using existing plumbing for sinks and appliances or will you require additional pipe work? If you’re planning to include a kitchen island containing a sink or other appliances in your design, you need to ensure that plumbing and electricity supplies are in place before flooring is laid. Work out where appliances, both big and small, are going to be to ensure that you have plug points where you need them.
Consider the best kitchen appliance layout for your space. Wherever you decide to locate your sink, it’s a good idea to install your washing machine and dishwasher nearby, it’ll help keep plumbing simple.
Underfloor heating is a popular choice for kitchens as radiators can take up valuable space. If you’re opting for underfloor heating, this will need to be installed prior to laying the kitchen floor.
Look for Lighting Options
When planning kitchen lighting idea it’s good to make the system quite flexible so you can regulate areas of your kitchen independently. Secondary lighting, such as spots above cooking and preparation areas, is also useful. Consider your kitchen must-haves. Do you long for sleek worktops, a statement island or lots of cupboards for storage? Or are there some specific appliances that you think will make your life in the kitchen much easier?
Everybody likes to work in their own particular way and each person has a different list of priorities, so it’s important to write yours down right at the beginning to ensure your kitchen is tailored to your family’s specific needs. This will also save a lot of time and trouble when it comes to discussing your project with a kitchen specialist.
Make a Moodboard
How you want your kitchen to look is, of course, a very personal choice. Pinterest is HUGELY popular for this. It really helps to collect images and/or magazine tear sheets to create a mood board or kitchen file with all the things you’d like to include in your design. This is your wish-list so just throw in everything at this point, but do give it some order as your budget will probably require you to choose between certain items at some point.
Try to be realistic, too. You might really want a wine cooler, coffee machine and warming drawers but you need to have a big kitchen to take lots of extras on top of the standard kitchen appliance list. Finally, talk to family and friends who have been through the kitchen buying process to get as much advice and inspiration as you can.
Even something as simple as a pretty plate, tile, piece of furniture or scrap of fabric can be a great starting point for choosing a theme or colours. Maybe you’ve always loved cream kitchen ideas, or want to go for something bold and bright.
Don’t worry too much about cost at this point, just focus on things that inspire you, and soon you’ll be able to identify styles you are drawn to.
Consult a Kitchen Designer
To get the absolute maximum from your space, input from a professional kitchen designer like ourselves at Simply Kitchens can prove invaluable. The experience and expertise we will offer will provide plenty of simple ideas – as well as innovative ones – that you might not have even considered.
Kitchen designers will also have up-to-the-minute knowledge of products, fixtures and fittings, and can source everything on your behalf. Ultimately, they’ll help ensure your new kitchen works as efficiently as possible.
Only agree on a quote for the design and installation of a kitchen once the designer has looked at the space. Once the design has been completed, make sure you have a full quotation for the cabinetry and installation. Always check what is included in the cost, including whether the company will oversee the project from start to finish.
Never pay a deposit of more than 25 per cent of the total contract value, ensuring you have a written schedule for further payments. Don’t pay in full until you have received delivery of your goods.
We here at Simply Kitchens are registered with The KBSA (Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association). They have provided these guidelines for choosing a kitchen company:
- Visit a company that has a showroom so you can inspect the quality of the product and the standard of installation.
- Choose a retail member with a track record of good installations.
- Be careful about paying in full for your kitchen in advance. You shouldn’t pay a deposit of more than 25 per cent and as it’s likely that you’ll be asked to make an interim payment.
- Make sure you have a written quotation that covers every aspect of the job including fitting, flooring and any structural alterations you have discussed.
- Don’t sign anything unless you are prepared to honour your side of the contract. Some terms and conditions have expensive cancellation clauses.
Where to Buy a Kitchen
There are three main options when it comes to choosing your kitchen supplier.
- DIY retailers like B&Q, Wickes and Homebase, as well as Ikea. Though they’re at the lower end of the market price-wise, you’ll still get some basic planning advice and quality fixtures and fittings.
- High street showrooms such as Harvey Jones, John Lewis, Wren and Magnet have branches throughout the country. For around £10,000 to £15,000, you’ll get a more personal approach than B&Q etc, good quality cabinetry and fittings and a larger choice of designs.
- Independent retailers. These are often family-owned businesses like ourselves with years of experience and expertise just waiting to be tapped into. Don’t be afraid of popping in – their designers are there to help and most good showrooms will offer a free consultation to get things underway.
Call in the Professionals
So, you’ve found your kitchen designer, chosen your kitchen layout and style and you’ve paid your deposit. What happens next? You need to find a team to install it.
It’s important to remember that the way your kitchen is installed can make all the difference. A bad fitter can make any kitchen look terrible, but a good one will ensure even inexpensive units look amazing. Ask friends and family for recommendations, or source a skilled person through a registered trade association. It may be a simple refresh so you’ll only have the kitchen supplier and fitter to co-ordinate. However, if it’s a big project, then there might be builders, electricians and plumbers to consider, too. It’s important at this stage to get some form of project manager in hand, whether that’s yourself, your kitchen company or an architect. Everyone needs to be clear about what needs to be done when, as delays and mistakes in kitchen planning can be costly.
Often your budget will dictate how much project management is needed. If you’re buying off the shelf from a DIY store you’d expect to have to employ and co-ordinate a variety of craftsmen including builders, plumbers and electricians. A number of mid-price kitchen companies provide fitting services, but often you’ll have to get them to liaise with other trades for work outside their fitting remit. Always check with your kitchen company at the start about which services they can and can’t provide.
There are so many things to consider for how to plan a kitchen, sometimes we forget to ask some very basic questions, such as how long it’s going to take from order to delivery. If any mistakes are made with the order, how quickly will it be rectified? What about guarantees – for both products and installation if the kitchen company is doing it or sub-contracting it out? Find out if the cabinets have solid tops and backs and what they are made from. You’ll also need to know if they arrive flat-pack or pre-constructed, as you’ll need somewhere to store them prior to installation.
Prepare for Cabinet and Worktop Fitting
Depending on what kind of kitchen you’ve bought your units will arrive either flat-packed for you to put together yourself, or arrive with rigid carcasses the kitchen fitter just places and adds the doors to. Most kitchen fitters will then install your chosen appliances and connect them to the services created by the plumber and electrician.
The final element in a kitchen is usually the work surfaces. If you’ve chosen wood or laminate in simple lengths then this can easily fitted however, if you’ve bought composites or stone kitchen worktops or anything else that needs templating (cutting out holes for hobs, sinks etc) then be prepared to have to wait up to 10 days between the measuring up and finial fitting.
Choose your finishing touches
Make your kitchen feel more coherent by subtly linking finishes. Pair a timber breakfast bar with wooden stools, for instance. Or upholster the seats with fabric that ties in with your splashback. Little details, such as cabinetry handles, can make a big difference and transform a simple white kitchen idea.
Rather than buying everything from the same supplier, source furnishings and accessories from a variety of places – mix things up to create an individual look.