Small kitchens: Everything in its place

Roy Saunders, chief executive of TKC, says that good design can create storage space even in the smallest kitchen

I was thinking recently that the media hasn’t shown one bit of interest in what Theresa May’s kitchen looks like. When Sam Cam moved into Downing Street, there was acres of coverage. There was even a bit of interest for ‘Two Kitchens Ed’ in his north London townhouse, but for Theresa, it’s zilch.

Everyone is only interested in her Chequers Plan, or rather if we’re going to ‘chuck Chequers’. That phrase immediately made me think of Ikea’s genius ad slogan ‘Chuck out your chintz’, which galvanised a nation into looking at their interiors in a whole new way.

And now the Swedish giant is moving into the high street with its first mini-store, stating that ‘urbanisation and inner-city living are trends that continue to dominate the market.’ And these trends are heavily influencing how we design interiors for smaller dwellings.

Friends of mine recently downsized and had the challenge of trying to shoehorn a lifetime’s worth of stuff into a smaller house. Well-designed storage is essential, but the advice in the best-selling book, ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up’ by Marie Kondo, might also help. It suggests that ‘thanking’ your possessions before you dispose of them makes the process less traumatic.

My friends wanted as much worktop area as possible in their compact kitchen. Clever use of larders and pull-outs, integrated appliances and a sleek J-pull door style has left them absolutely delighted.

The sleek clutter-free look is invariably easier to create in larger kitchens. Reality for first-time buyers tends to be a little different. My first kitchen in north Wales was pretty small and boasted a dead-end “view” overlooking a neighbour’s house at the bottom of a cul-de-sac.

However, just because a kitchen is small, doesn’t mean the owner can’t have a fabulous design, plenty of gadgets, good storage and an ergonomic layout, but it takes good product knowledge and creative flair.

Like with most things related to KBB sales, I think the showroom is the best place to start showing how space and storage can be best executed and be inspirational. The most successful retailers show a variety of products that suit differing budgets and use differing room-set sizes that real consumers can relate to.

A display needs to fully function and leave nothing to the imagination, because kitchens aren’t an everyday purchase. Consumers can’t imagine things not there. Show how you can optimise storage and make everything a pleasure to use by having tall larder units, magic corners, narrow pull-puts and cutlery trays. ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’ is a powerful attraction. Apply these design principles to their scheme and you’re halfway there.

We live in an instant world these days, but thoughtful design can take time and we should never be afraid of telling customers that.

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