Small kitchens are the most fun

Kitchen designer Diane Berry says be daring and help create a dream kitchen in a small space with clever use of lighting, storage and clean lines.

The sad truth is that many people with small kitchens have lower budgets and think that the likes of Howdens and Wren are their only option.

But people with all budgets and all sizes of room deserve to get expert advice for their hard-earnt money and their lifestyles can be improved by taking an extra half-an-hour to offer better advice or spend a few hours a week learning to be better at what you do.

I suppose I am spoilt, as I do get to work on many large projects, but the challenge of a small room is still great fun for me.

Let’s look at the design of small kitchens and some simple rules to follow:

  • Focus on getting rid of as many ups and downs on levels of units;
  • Remove light pelmets and coving – the look very dated;
  • Conceal as many appliances as is affordable;
  • Keep door sizes even. Just because there is an array of base unit sizes, doesn’t mean wall units match above. Make the wall units doors a similar in size to each other;
  • Choose colours that don’t dominate and, if using two-tone, put dark on lower levels and pale above;
  • Use built-in extractors that match the units. This helps create smooth lines;
  • If affordable, use glass splashbacks or upstands running the length of the room, not just behind the hob;
  • Be brave. So suggest building work – don’t assume everyone wants the cheapest option. A window change can make so much difference and most people need to be given ideas, as they can’t imagine change in their own homes;
  • Lighting is so important. Avoid a centre light with spotlights on, as they just make you stand in your own light;
  • Under-lights are essential to add interest and light up the worktops;
  • Try to hide as many switches as you can. Consider hidden sockets too, as a small wall full of sockets just looks fussy and distracting;
  • Use appliances in colours similar to the unit fronts to help blend them out, maybe even a hob in a pale colour to blend with the worktops;
  • Storage is king. Try to ensure you use height, as any gaps that are reachable will eventually be filled with all sorts – biscuit tins, spare packet of kitchen roll, post, cook books. So use 900mm tall wall units and if the room is dark, consider a gloss finish;
  • Consider how much they use their microwave. If it’s for pinging porridge and peas, then it might be able to go inside a unit;
  • Boiling hot water taps are perfect, if affordable, as they get rid of the kettle and declutter the worktop. They are also safe and cost-effective in the long term;
  • Underfloor heating to get rid of radiators is not too expensive and helps clear a wall for storage.
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