The idea of one’s kitchen being a haven invites a sense of welcome and inspiration; a feeling of looking forward to spending time in the space, whether to prepare and cook a meal, or simply to boil the kettle for a cup of tea. When friends come to my home, the first place we go is into the kitchen. I put the kettle on and prepare mugs on the worktop (yes, I’m definitely a hot-drink-from-a-mug kind of lady). I prepare tea bags or scoop some fresh coffee into the cafetiére. My visitors will walk around to the dining room and exclaim how beautiful the view is out onto the field behind our house, then they will usually take up a position near the hob, perhaps leaning against the units in a general sense of peace and enjoyment of the space, of the colours surrounding them; the surface finishes; the contrasts in colour and texture.
The feeling I have myself is the same. Whenever I enter my kitchen, I am surprised at the space, at the view, at the way the colours used are drawn from outside to reflect the environment in which our house is situated. A feeling of thankfulness pervades that I have a kitchen which invites me to be creative by being an inspiring space, and that I was able to design a new layout to create something so much more cohesive. Because this kitchen did not come about by chance, neither was it here when we moved into the property. It took a lot of planning, many nights lying awake considering how best to resolve the various design issues, until I had the perfect plan in my head to make the space I had been blessed with work in a much more efficient way.
We have been blessed to have been able to replace the kitchens in both our current house and our previous house. Both were done on a budget, but with careful planning and sourcing of every item, I have been able to produce spaces in which I have loved, and continue to love, spending time. When every aspect is taken into consideration, down to the smallest detail, it is possible to end up with the perfect space whatever one’s budget. And budget is, by all accounts, the utmost consideration when redesigning a kitchen.
Redesigning a kitchen, however, needn’t necessarily be about knocking down walls, replacing units, and having months of work done. For you, it may involve a simple aesthetic change, as easy as painting the walls an inspiring colour, hanging beautiful wallpaper in your dining area, choosing some art to go with your space, putting up that tiled splashback you’ve been planning for so long, or perhaps sanding wooden cupboard doors back to the wood and staining them, or painting dated orange pine cupboard doors and replacing the handles and worktops to modernise your space. The kitchen has always been the heart of the home, even in the days when aristocratic families lived upstairs and the servants lived downstairs. One only needs to envisage the servants sitting around the table for meals in Downton Abbey to see that the kitchen induces a feeling of informality. It’s a space where mess can be made, but easily cleaned up; where people feel welcome and frank conversations are had.
Today it’s also a place to sit on a bar stool and flick through a magazine for a quiet five minutes. Children rush in and dump their schoolbags on the floor before raiding the fridge and cupboards for after school snacks. Projects are built on dining tables, and people work from home, laptops and papers scattered around. The kitchen has so many uses that the more we consider, the more essential it becomes for the space to be welcoming, inspiring, and in many cases multi-functional. And we haven’t even considered kitchen equipment yet.
Having utensils and appliances which are good quality and efficient dramatically improve one’s creative experience of cooking. They can elevate simple meal preparation to a higher plane; one in which satisfaction is found in a perfectly sharp chef’s knife making its way through a seemingly impermeable squash as though it were butter. It’s found in an oven which bakes dishes evenly, or having sufficient surface space to prepare and serve up food comfortably. But where do you start to analyse your needs, and determine how to get the best from your own kitchen? What follows is a comprehensive breakdown of all the considerations required from your initial thought to improve your space, enabling you to proceed on your journey to make your kitchen an inviting, inspiring and creative space.