Planning a new kitchen from scratch can be a daunting task. The challenge is to establish your priorities at the start so that you know exactly what is needed, and what the project will cost. It stands to reason that changes in the planning stages won’t impact on your finances, but those made once the remodel project is underway probably will.
Whether you are planning to do the job yourself or to hire either a company or specialist subcontractors to do it for you, the starting point is the structure you have to work with. This includes walls, floor, ceiling, doors and windows, as well as plumbing, electricity, and possibly also gas connections.
To a large extent, the layout of the kitchen will depend on the size and shape of the room. The style you are aiming for – if any – will also play a role. So start out by identifying the style or look that you want, and then determine a basic layout. Examples include:
- Single wall kitchens where all the cabinets and appliances are positioned along one side of the room. This is usually only a solution for very small, compact homes.
- Galley kitchens that mimic the idea used on yachts, with two working and storage areas positioned parallel to one another.
- L-shaped kitchens that incorporate cabinets on two adjacent walls and may or may not incorporate an island work station or freestanding table and chairs in the open space between the top and bottom of the L.
- U-shaped kitchens that utilize three walls, often with the open part of the U providing space for an eating zone. [link to How to Incorporate an Eating Zone in Your Kitchen] The U-shaped kitchen makes it extra-easy to create an effective work triangle, and unless the living area is open plan, in reality, it might make use of all four walls in the house.
How To Create A Checklist
When planning a new kitchen you need to consider every single element. In general terms these include:
- Floor surface
- Wall surface
- Storage including cupboards, kitchen cabinets, and shelving
- Plumbing and sink
- Fuel for cooking (gas and/or electricity)
- Other items
Once you have created the checklist, you can specify items with their details and cost. You can do this in many different ways; as a written list on paper, as a simple Word or Excel document on your computer, laptop, or tablet, or as a note on your smartphone.
Wall And Floor Surfaces
Generally, the wall and floor surfaces of kitchens need to be hard-wearing and able to resist spills and splashes. It is for this reason that tiles are often used on floors and above sinks. There are, however, other options including good quality paint on walls that can be washed down, and hardwood (as opposed to laminate) floors.
Decide what you want, work out surface areas, and then do the math.
Storage Needs Including Work Surfaces
While not everything in the kitchen has to be stored behind closed doors, kitchen cabinets are key to a neat, tidy, and well-organized kitchen space. Generally the choice is between base units that sit on the floor, wall units that are mounted above base units, and tall units that function like cupboards customized for kitchens. Of course open shelving can also be used, including smaller units designed specially for bottled herbs and spices.
When planning for storage you need to have a separate storage checklist that covers your needs. This will include units for foodstuffs, cleaning materials, pots and pans, perhaps wine and other beverages, and both cutlery and crockery. Decide which items should be stored in base units (generally heavier things like pots and pans, even plates and dishes), and what you want to put in wall-hung units. Tall cabinets are usually the best option for a compact pantry-type cupboard. But the important thing to remember is that you will need working surfaces for food preparation and possibly serving, and for stacking dirty pots, pans, and dishes.
Lighting And Ventilation
You can’t do this work yourself (you will need licensed professionals), but you need to decide what sort of lighting and ventilation you want. Typical lighting options include general lighting from overhead fixtures, as well as lights installed under wall-mounted kitchen cabinets. Ventilation for kitchens includes extractor fans, recirculating stove or cooker hoods, as well as ducted cooker hoods. The best advice is to get a professional involved during the planning stage.
Plumbing And Sinks
While any plumbing work needs to be done by a registered plumber, you need to decide where sinks will be located, and whether you are going to include appliances that require a water source in your kitchen plan. Dishwashers are the most obvious appliances to include, but some people choose to have washing machines and tumble dryers in the kitchen too.
Utilities (Fuel) For Cooking
Your electrician can help here as well, but if you are going to have a gas oven or a gas water heater, you will need a professional registered for gas installations. Ensure you make this decision during the planning phase. Don’t change your mind when you go shopping for appliances.
Your checklist should contain every appliance you need. Generally, these span three activities:
- Cooking – freestanding stove, built-in stove, double or single oven, eye-level oven, hob, microwave or microwave/convection oven
- Storing fresh food – freestanding refrigerator or freezer/fridge combination, built-in units, separate freezer
- Washing – dishwasher, washing machine, tumble drier, with all the options considered
These are the appliances that are key to your kitchen triangle.
These include relatively small items from coffee makers to electric frying pans. The challenge is to plan so that they will be accessible when you need them. For instance, if you have a blender or smoothie maker that you use all the time, you don’t want to dig it out of a cabinet every time you want to use it. At the same time, you might not want to leave it out on top of a cabinet because this could mess up a working surface you use for food preparation.
Ultimately, the more thorough you are with your checklist, the easier and more enjoyable your new kitchen project is going to be.
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