Published in Utopia Kitchen and Bathroom magazine
While researching cabinetry styles, I’ve fallen in love with a gorgeous dark timber flat-panel door – but the problem is my small kitchen, and I’m worried that the space will seem dark and overbearing. I have been considering knocking through into the adjoining dining room, but as that’s not particularly large either I’m a little concerned that I might end up making more problems for myself when it comes to fitting all the necessary elements in comfortably. Can you offer any suggestions on the best way to proceed please? Ruth Thompson, Edinburgh
You’ve got the right idea here, as by demolishing the central wall an open-plan kitchen diner could be created. This would not only give the feeling of more space, but also an opportunity for social interaction between the two areas, ideal either for entertaining guests or for family gatherings. But you’re right to be wary, too, since the correct layout and aesthetic will be important in ensuring that the space works in the way you want it to. In my design suggestion I’ve used a U-shaped cabinet layout, which provides a good structure to the kitchen, and immediate access to food and utensils.
Key zones in small kitchen
The key zones – for storage, food preparation, cooking, and of course the wet area –are positioned so that moving from one to another is easy, for greater efficiency while preparing meals. The fridge, oven, microwave and the tall storage unit are conveniently located on the same plane across one wall, while the sink is positioned close to the cooking area, underneath the window – which not only means you benefit from lots of natural light while preparing food or clearing away, but you might also enjoy a pleasant view if you’re lucky enough to have one.
The large worktop between the sink and the hob offers plenty of space for food preparation, and being between the wet area and the cooking zone, it ensures the best possible efficiency of movement. The hob is positioned to face the dining area, so that the cook can chat sociably to friends or family without being distracted from their duties. Guests will feel drawn towards the seating feature that extends from this run of units, which also functions as a spot in which to have a cup of coffee and read the paper, or grab a quick bite of lunch.
The easiest way to create a breakfast bar like this is to extend the worktop across and down, which also helps to avoid the centre of the room becoming too cluttered with chunky units– which means the space will appear larger, since you can see through this fixture, all the way from one side of the open-plan space to the other.
I’ve chosen an exotic Wenge timber, which has the dark good looks you mention, but I’ve teamed it with some grey high-gloss doors to provide a contrast and prevent the possibility of the space coming across as too overbearing. The shiny finish also helps to reflect more light into the room, as do the light cream floor tiles and similar-toned worktop that I would suggest using. This sort of simple colour scheme ensures that the space appears quite uncluttered and elegant, which helps give the illusion of more space.
Clever lighting scheme
Another tried-and-tested trick you could use is a clever lighting scheme. I used LEDs under the wall-hung units, to provide task lighting for food preparation, and inset spots in the ceiling. Don’t get too hung up on having a symmetrical configuration, but position them carefully in areas that they will be most useful, such as above the sink. Lighting is also used to help the tall storage unit seem less overpowering; here the use of uplighters reduces the shadows which can cause it to appear as if it is looming over you.
Small kitchen design tips:
- Try to position the sink beneath a window if possible, as this allows you to benefit from more natural light while washing the dishes.
- If your layout allows, it is a good idea to open the kitchen up to the dining area, to ensure a more sociable space.