Whether you’re a regular host, a real-life master chef or a casual cook, you deserve a space that suits your needs and has a personal touch
Words by Nicola Foley
For one reason or another, January is a popular time to make renovation plans. The Christmas period, filled with entertaining, can highlight a lack of functionality in your current arrangement, while January sales serve to maximise budgets if you’re looking to carry out improvements. As the hub of most homes, kitchens are often the number one target for makeovers – but knowing where to start can be overwhelming, especially for first-timers.
Paul Smart, sales director at Complete Kitchens Ely, recommends beginning by sitting down and thinking about exactly why you want to change your kitchen, and working from there.
“Do you want to achieve more storage or worktop space? Or a change in style? Or just to update on old kitchen?” he asks. “Consider which aspects of your kitchen work for you and which don’t – then, let the experts figure out the rest.”
“It’s key to understand how you want to use the area,” agrees Darren Watts, design director at Wren Kitchens. “Start by figuring out what appliances you cannot live without – be that a dishwasher, built-in coffee machine or wine cooler! Then ask yourself how you typically want to use the space. Do you like to entertain in it, or require more of a practical room to sit down and work?”
Most important is ensuring that the kitchen is fit for its main purpose: cooking. You can do this by considering which parts you will use most when preparing food, and how easy it is to move between them – a principle which designers call the ‘kitchen triangle’.
“This method focuses on the fridge, sink and cooker as the core elements when mapping out your space,” explains Darren. “After determining these, you can then begin to think about where other appliances will sit.”
Smaller spaces present a bigger challenge – especially the narrow ‘galley’ kitchens common in Cambridge’s Victorian terraces. The more limited the space, the more compromises you might have to make, counsels Paul – but most problems can be sorted with a bit of creativity.
“Using clever storage solutions to make every inch count is a must when space is at a premium,” he stresses. “Thinking outside the box solves many issues, and always bear in mind that keeping the room as light and bright as possible can go a long way to create the illusion of more space.”
Once you’ve got the practical elements figured out, start to have some fun scouting out ideas. Set up a Pinterest board, buy some interiors magazines and scour Instagram to get a sense of the look you hope to achieve.
In terms of current trends, Kate Reed – co-owner of local furniture emporium Angela Reed – believes we’re going to see an eclectic look that blends retro and contemporary coming to the fore. “There will be a step away from the clinical, clean lines of the modern kitchen, with a move towards juxtaposing vintage and modern pieces,” she anticipates. “Antique furniture introduces real character to a kitchen – as well as a good talking point. Either utilise a vintage island as your central focus, or have something repurposed specifically for your space. Not only is it more eco-friendly and sustainable, but it adds depth.”
Darren predicts that kitchen islands will continue to prove popular, while hidden pantries or larders will be something we see more of. He believes green is going to be big news in the world of interiors this year. “This is something we expect to see translated into kitchens, with people opting for any green tones, from sage to forest green,” he suggests. “We relate these with the great outdoors, so they can add a sense of tranquillity to any home.”
Green is going to be big in the world of interiors this year
One thing to keep in mind is that while the latest trends can provide plenty of inspiration, their very nature means they can go out of style. “Copper was very much in a few years back, for example,” says Paul. “But it’s completely gone out of favour – with the exception of copper accessories, which can really work well in Shaker kitchens.”
Some trends are fly-by-night, some are timeless – but as long as you love it, that’s all that really matters, of course. Saying that, if you do want a truly classic style, Shaker and slab kitchens are pretty evergreen. Colour-wise, whites and greys don’t tend to go out of fashion, providing a sleek and airy feel.
As we all become more aware of our consumer habits – from a sustainability perspective – Paul believes environmental concerns will be a driving influence on people’s purchasing choices. “Our German supplier is the first kitchen furniture manufacturer with a completely climate-neutral product portfolio – and so many are coming through with the environment in mind, such as recyclable paper worktops and carbon-neutral doors,” he says. “And packaging is constantly evolving to become more climate friendly, too.”
On a Budget?
If you can’t go the whole hog on a revamp, but still crave a new look for your kitchen, there are some budget-friendly ways of updating the space, says Kate. She recommends adding statement pieces like lighting, artwork or colourful tiles, and putting in some wooden shelving to showcase your favourite storage jars. You can also consider a DIY approach by, for example, repainting walls and cabinetry. “This can be a really cost-effective way of updating your kitchen without breaking the bank. However, make sure you do the prep work first!”
Scrimp on a few tasks by rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in yourself. Then you can save pennies for little luxuries that will bring happiness to your day-to-day, she adds. “When you fancy a splurge, you can never go wrong with a good coffee machine. Being able to treat guests – and yourself – to barista-quality coffee is a joy!”
From the kitchen to the garden – find out what you can do this month to take good care of your garden in our latest article from Anna Taylor, owner of Anna’s Flower Farm in Audley End.