Dear Margaret… A few years ago, we bought a family house, which is in a barn conversion, and have been putting up with the badly designed family kitchen ever since. There isn’t enough storage or countertop space and we all get in each other’s way when we’re using the kitchen together! I don’t want a super-modern look as the property has beams and period style windows, however, I don’t want traditional either. In our new family kitchen design we’d like to incorporate a dining table, and my husband would also like a space to work on the computer, if that’s not too much to ask! The space is divided with a utility room; we’d prefer not to move walls if possible.
Ruby Ford, Manchester
The low ceiling with two heavy ceiling beams and the presence of the utility room mean that this room is divided in a rather dysfunctional way. The key to achieving that light and elegant feel that is needed here would be a combination of smooth light drawer fronts, some cream granite worktops and discreet, neatly built-in appliances.
Creating more space
To create more space and lighten the room I used pastel colours and light wood. To draw attention away from the utility room and to integrate it into the space I would build around it with wall panels in a corresponding shade to the kitchen cupboards. This will lead the eye around the room making the utility area feel intentional.
Seamless and flat drawer doors give a better sense of space with clean crisp lines complemented by the sleek and uncluttered workspace that will be created once the storage space is improved. A combination of the bright surfaces of the wooden bottom cabinets with the high-gloss fronts of upper cabinets add light to the kitchen, enlarging the space effectively.
In using a large number of drawers, cabinets and tall cabinets I have incorporated enough storage space for necessary kitchen accessories allowing for a tidy and clean feeling of family kitchen.
On the darker side of the kitchen behind the utility room there is the group of cooking appliances, with a large fridge, freezer, oven and microwave. The light airy space between the two windows was then left free for workspace, ideally located opposite the high storage cupboard. This way, depending on the time of day, both sides of the worktop can be used. Positioning the sink next to the window makes the best use of natural light. Its location, in the middle of the appliances, makes the work easier and more efficient. Close to the sink I placed the non-cooking elements of the kitchen such as integrated dish-washer and recycling bin compartments with drawers below the sink. By grouping these activities in this corner of the kitchen the cooking can be kept separate and hygienic, also giving the cook some space.
Multi-purpose area in your family kitchen
It is very helpful to have an extra, multi-purpose area to be used as additional preparation space, use as a breakfast bar or working /computer area, especially if it can be moved away when not in use. We can distinguish here a few zones that need to be illuminated. Well designed lighting will allow you to use only the lights needed at the time thus saving money and energy.
A common mistake is situating the main light centrally. It will then be directly above and behind the person working in the kitchen, creating a shadow in which you can’t see what you’re doing. The most useful and efficient lights are the under-cabinet lights which will illuminate the working area in front of you helping you avoid deep shadows on the working space.
Family kitchen areas separation
To separate the dining area from the working space I have positioned the dining table near to the entrance, next to the family room. It will be useful to have a small cupboard for handy accessories near the table. The walls in the dining area could be decorated with family photographs or paintings that complement the design scheme in their colour.
Kitchen design tips:
- To keep the kitchen in looking clean and inviting use large uncluttered and easily wiped clean surfaces.
- Large light reflecting surfaces will help you to visually enlarge the space if you have a closed space.