Designing your kitchen: what to keep in mind
Keen to get a new kitchen? Great, but don’t be too hasty. There are a lot of important points to consider before making a decision. We’ll give you an overview of them as well as tips on what to keep in mind as you plan your kitchen.
1. Room size: how much space do I have?
Your party guests don’t care how big the kitchen is – they’ll squeeze in there no matter how small it is. It is, after all, ‘the place to be’ at any party. Your kitchen planner will take a different view. And you should be sure to have a close look at the room dimensions before deciding how you want to design and equip your kitchen. The smaller the room, the more cleverly you have to use the available space to get the most storage. But even a large room doesn’t necessarily make it much easier, because then you have a multitude of options: do you want to have a cooking island in the middle? Or perhaps a bar with stools? Is it an open or a closed kitchen? Do you want to integrate a dining area or is that in another room?
Our tip: sketch a floor plan of the room and pencil in the existing water and electrical connections so that you can work around them as you continue your planning.
2. Personal taste: what do I like?
The range of options can be overwhelming. To keep a clear head when you get to the store, think about what kind of kitchen appeals to you before you go. Should it be sleek and modern or quaintly cosy? Do you prefer light, restrained tones, or is a touch of colour more your style? Start by getting some inspiration and ideas: in catalogues, magazines and, of course, the internet. On Pinterest, you can find kitchens of every shape and colour. Simply create a virtual pin board and collect the pictures that appeal to you. This will help you figure out which styles you like and what type of kitchen you’ll enjoy.
In addition to your personal taste, the space itself and the rest of your furnishings can also help you find the right kitchen. In small spaces, light colours make the room seem bigger. If the rest of your apartment is very modern and purist, a modern design is probably a better fit than a country manor-style kitchen.
Our tip: if you have a rough idea how you want your kitchen to look, you’ll be well prepared for the planning process with a professional kitchen planner. And you’ll save time at the kitchen showroom as well.
3. Budget: how much can I spend?
One thing is clear: kitchens are not exactly cheap and can easily wind up costing a fortune. So it’s all the more important to give yourself plenty of time for planning and making a decision. After all, you don’t want to be disappointed after spending all that money. But how much should a new kitchen cost, and how much can you afford? You should absolutely define your limits, at least roughly, before you talk to a kitchen planner. In any event the experts at the kitchen showroom or furniture store will want to know but they can plan a kitchen for you in practically any conceivable price segment. The price depends on the quality, features and size of the kitchen. An average fitted kitchen in the standard price segment including all electrical appliances will set you back about CHF 20,000. If you can keep your old appliances, that will naturally save you some money. Another savings tip: if you’re generally happy with your current kitchen but feel it could do with an update, you can simply replace the cupboard doors. Your old kitchen will look new and your wallet will be particularly delighted.
Our tip: set yourself a budget that you want and can afford to spend to keep costs under control. If you are working with a kitchen planner, make sure they stick to the budget as well.
4. Features: what do I need in the kitchen?
When you’ve made up your mind about the style and costs, it’s time to delve into the details of your kitchen. This is a fun stage, because when it comes to designing and planning a kitchen, there are endless details to decide. Here are a few thoughts to get you started:
- Kitchen counter: L- or U-shaped?
- Cooking island or counter?
- How much storage space do I need?
- How should the cupboards and drawers be arranged?
- Which appliances do I need and how should they be arranged?
- What functions should my appliances have?
- How much counter space do I need?
- Wood, synthetic or stone countertop?
- Do I want a dining area in the kitchen?
- What fronts should I choose?
- Which handles? Or perhaps handleless drawers and cupboards?
- Which lights do I need, and where?
The professional kitchen planner will help you make all these decisions. But here too, it’s a good idea to have a rough idea of everything before you start.
If you want to design a small kitchen, for example, you should be very clear about the amount of storage space you need and what options you have for creating it. Wall cupboards are certainly a good way of making use of the height of the small kitchen. There are also clever cupboard concepts that make practical use of every corner of the kitchen. The Le Mans cabinet, for example, is a base cabinet for corner spaces, with two large trays that can each be pulled out all the way. Le Mans cabinets are particularly suitable for pots and pans. For base cabinets, pull-out trays with separate compartments are highly recommended. That way you don’t have to bend down and look into the cabinet from the outside. The practical trays enable you to view and reach the contents from above or the side and give you a perfect overview right down to the remotest corners of the kitchen.
You should also take your time choosing the appliances as there are many different models with a range of functions in different price categories. Do you prefer gentle cooking with steam? Then you could opt for an oven with an integrated steam cooker. Elevated appliances are modern and practical – no more bending down to look into the oven. Think about which devices you really need and whether you have space for them.
For the countertop, you can choose between wood, synthetic surfaces or stone. Ask an expert which material would best suit your needs. And you should definitely consider how much counter space you need to be able to cook comfortably. To gain more work space in the kitchen, you can have appliances such as your automatic coffee machine or the microwave installed in the cupboards. That way you won’t use up any counter space. For the sink, there are covers that create extra space and modern taps that provide boiling water, so you won’t even need a kettle on the counter.
Good kitchen planning also includes a suitable lighting concept. Your work space needs to be well lit, of course. If you opt for wall cabinets mounted up high, you can have LED spots or strips installed on the undersides to illuminate the work surface. Make sure you have enough light above the sink and the hob as well. You can also create a solid main light on the ceiling with LED spots.
Our tip: pay attention to your daily cooking and movements in the kitchen and get a sense for what works well and what you would like to change. It’s also helpful to look at the individual steps in your preparation and cooking processes and choose a kitchen configuration that enables a natural flow between your most common work steps. It’s a good idea, for example, to put the dishwasher next to the sink and the waste bin – because how do most people clear their plates and pots? Exactly: food waste in the bin, quick rinse in the sink and straight into the open dishwasher. Everything in the right place, no more mess in the kitchen.
5. Preparations: does the kitchen space need to be renovated?
You don’t buy a fitted kitchen every two years. Ideally, you’ll be planning to use it for the next 15-20 years or even more. So you should really give some thought to the design and plan everything with great care.
During the kitchen planning stage, you may well find that you need to adjust some things before the new kitchen can be put in. Perhaps you want the sink in a different spot than it was before? In that case, the water pipes may have to be re-routed. You should also consider whether the walls need a fresh lick of paint or the floors could do with some new tiles.
Are the light switches where they should be? Plan exactly where light switches would be most practical in the kitchen, particularly if you’re working with multiple light sources.
No other room in the house requires as many plug sockets as your kitchen. Here, too, you should have a good plan to ensure that the sockets are located where you will need them later. When in doubt, go for more rather than fewer and remember that there are devices that permanently block a socket (e.g. coffee machine or kettle). Plan enough free sockets around the hob and worktop so that you can use multiple devices at once (e.g. mixing wand, hand mixer and electric knife) without having to swap them in and out of the socket. You will need to plan and budget any of this electrical work.
Our tip: buying a new kitchen is the perfect moment to renovate the space and tailor the new kitchen to your individual needs. Of course, it does take more time and money and requires some deep thinking. Include this work in your plans so you won’t be fretting later that you only half-finished the job. Bear in mind that you won’t want a brand new kitchen surrounded by discoloured walls and broken tiles.
The following articles on furnishing might also interest you:
Furnishing your apartment: tips and tricks
Furnishing your living room: nice and cosy
Furnishing your bedroom: our tips
Designing your bathroom: our ten tips
Furnishing guest rooms: feels like home
Safe, age-appropriate living
Furnishing your first apartment: our tips