Kitchen Installation Tips - Part 3 - Deciding on the Ideal Kitchen Layout

Today we're going to cover the importance of accurate measuring and which appliances and lighting you might need and where to put them.

Kitchen Planning - Section 2

New layout – same or different?

  • Take a look at the LAYOUTS chapter in part 1 of the Kitchen Guide to see the 5 most common kitchen layouts. Almost certainly your room will allow you to use one of these as the starting point for your plan. Even though you might retain the same basic layout as before e.g. a Galley or U-shape kitchen, you might want to use different kitchen units and/or locate your appliances in different places (this is where we go back to thinking about the needs of your family or the ‘cook' in the house!)

Measuring

  • Measure twice and cut once is a well known saying of joiners and other tradesmen. It's very true. Take your time here as mistakes can be difficult and costly to rectify later. Start by sketching the basic room shape on a piece of paper then transfer your measurements onto it. Anyone who remembers pre-decimalisation may want to use feet and inches but to save confusion use millimetres (all units and appliances are measured this way).
  • This sketch doesn't have to be a masterpiece – you'll be doing your proper plan later using Microsoft Word. Accurate measurements are all we need at this stage. When measuring walls, measure at floor height and then about 900mm up (roughly worktop height), then use the smaller of the two – (this compensates for walls that might taper in or out).

Appliances needed and best locations – integrated or free-standing?

  • What appliances do you need (this might be a trade-off between kitchen cupboard space in smaller rooms). If you're a budding chef you may want a range cooker for example – these tend to be about 900-1000mm wide and are often a focal point of the room when used with a stainless steel splashback and chimney extractor.
  • Most fitted kitchens these days are specified with integrated appliances. These can be built into a unit e.g. a fridge/freezer in a tall larder-type housing, or built-under the kitchen worktop and sitting on the floor (normally these would be washing machines, dishwashers and individual fridges and freezers). Integrated appliances are fitted with a door to match the surrounding units.
    Ovens are worth mentioning here because their description often causes confusion: a built-under oven is housed in a unit and sits under the worktop – these can either be a ‘single' or a ‘built-under double' oven. Single ovens can also be ‘built-in' to a tall, larder-type housing as can ‘built-in double' ovens. (‘Built-under' double ovens tend to be 700mm high whereas ‘built-in' double ovens are 900mm high). Okay, hope that's cleared that up.
  • Extractors can be very simple or very elaborate (and expensive). Most however share the option of re-circulating the waste air and cleaning it with filters, or venting it outside. If you plan on venting outside, budget for getting a 4” hole cut in the exterior wall. On ‘island' installations check if you are able to run a duct between the ceiling joists to the exterior wall – if not you will have to use the filter option.

Tip: if you intend using integrated appliances make sure there are no obstructions like water or waste pipes behind them as they need to sit right back against the wall. This is a common problem with washing machines and dishwashers which tend to be installed either side of the sink. Have your plumber move the pipework before installation if necessary.

Location of existing power sockets and light switches – do they need moved or added to for appliances?

  • When you have your sketch ready with the room outline it's worth adding the location of all existing electric power sockets, light switches and any other electrical faceplates. You may have to install additional power sockets for kitchen appliances or move some to allow appliances to fit (remember there's no room behind integrated appliances). The easiest one to forget is power for an extractor if there wasn't one before, so make a note on your sketch. Similarly, power for the hob igniter is often overlooked, especially if the hob is being located in an island unit.
  • If you are specifying an electric oven or a freestanding cooker or range, then make sure that your wiring is up to the job. These appliances normally require a much heavier cable, usually on its own circuit direct from the fusebox. Look for an existing Cooker Control Point (normally a larger faceplate with a big red switch on the wall next to your oven). Seeing this would suggest you have the appropriate cable installed, but it's worth checking.

Kitchen Lighting

  • Lighting can transform a kitchen, almost regardless of the colour or type of units and worktops you've chosen. It can be used to create a certain atmosphere (say, at parties) or flood your cooking area with light if need be.
    It's common now to replace single ceiling light fixtures with halogen spotlights, then add under-wall unit lights to illuminate the worksurfaces. Another cool idea you might like, is to use plinth lights to cast light at floor level - very effective on their own or combined with subtle under wall unit lighting to create a ‘mood' J Ask your electrician to have these switched independently so they can be used on their own or all together. Don't forget that the majority of extractors (integrated or chimney types) usually come with integral lights too and right where you need them – over the hob.

Suppliers – furniture & appliances

  • Your choice of supplier may dictate to some extent your choice of units and appliances. If you're designing & sourcing your own fitted kitchen though, you have the greatest freedom of choice as you won't be restricted to what a local company can supply.
    You may find buying your kitchen over the internet a viable alternative to shopping locally. Online stores should be able to offer better prices because of lower overheads, quick order fulfilment and a wide range to suit different tastes and budgets.
    So long as you know which kitchen units and accessories you need it should be no harder to order online than anywhere else. Look for sites that offer sample doors though, so you can see what your choice of door will look like in your own home (ideally, they'll discount the cost of the sample off your kitchen if you place an order – sound like a site we know?)