It has been just over a year since the completion of our home renovation project. The builders are long gone and we have had a good amount of time to test the functionality and aesthetics of the space. This post focuses on the design and installation process of our Roma kitchen by, Masterclass Kitchens and includes 23 crucial tips for planning a new kitchen.
Masterclass Kitchens were involved right from the start. Their in-house designers helped us significantly with the planning and layout of the kitchen, as this is where we felt we needed the most guidance. Although having worked in interiors for the past 20 years, when it came to planning the finer details of our kitchen layout, I was offered key design advice that proved to be invaluable. This included the layout of the cupboards and drawers, advice on what size we should have and where those choices would sit.
Before the design and layout conversations started, Masterclass Kitchens talked to us about our family set-up and asked a lot of questions about how we hoped to use the space. They wanted to know if we cooked as a family? Who liked to cook? And how involved we like to get with cooking and using the appliances. This gave them (and us) a really good understanding of what we wanted from the space, making sure that the functionality was inline with our needs. We were then offered advice on the various layout options and how we could really utilise the space.
I am so happy that we took their advice when it came to the run of tower units which house the floor to ceiling fridge and the same size freezer. Their units looks so sleek and seamless when they sit side by side. This large freezer means that we can do a lot of batch cooking which is great as we both lead very busy lives. I had planned to go for a smaller freezer but I am so happy that we decided on the bigger size. The double oven was also their suggestion and has proved to be so useful. We have one that is a high spec and the second model is more basic. They are ideal for large amounts of cooking such as roast dinners and when we have people over. It’s also great for when you need to cook food at different temperatures. The warming drawer sits just under the oven and is great for keeping meals warm, warming plates and bread making!
One of our favourite details is the insert for the cutlery drawer as this is a hidden pull-out compartment within a large drawer. One thing that used to really frustrate us in our old kitchen was the lack of accessibility to everything and now, due to the wide and deep drawers, this is no longer an issue.
The open shelving is something that everybody always comments on when they visit and this is a favourite feature of mine. Due to my line of work I have collected various ceramic and dinner sets and have been looking forward to not only using them more regularly but having the shelf space to display them. There are many options when it comes to the finish and configuration of open shelving but we loved the idea of covering the whole wall as this is the main feature and focal point when you enter the kitchen.
The colour of the kitchen is something we agonised over for a long time and it was hard to choose as Masterclass offers a range of colours that complement a modern and traditional interior. In the end, we opted for their anthracite grey which has brown undertones. This deep colour provides a lovely base for the wood effect shelving and lighter worktops. It also complements the deep green we have on the walls in the living room.
We went for as much workspace as we possibly could (6 metres in total) as once you have your utensils out, it doesn’t leave that much space for food prep and laying out plates to serve meals. When considering the arrangement of our cupboards, we put the items we used the least in low down and the things we used on a daily basis in our large pull-out drawers or on the shelves. This meant we avoided the constant bending over which is so much better for my temperamental back.
Where possible, try to plan out where all of your items will go before you commit to your kitchen design. Items to consider are; cookbooks, kettle, bread bin, utensils holder, chopping boards, cooking condiments and tea and coffee. Wooden chopping boards look great simply leant up in the kitchen as the wood adds character and warmth, go for a few variations of size and place the larger one at the back. If you are opting for open shelving then don’t be scared about keeping everything neat and tidy. Kilner jars (or amazon equivalent) are the answer. Everything from grains, pasta, nuts, coffee or cereals can go in them. This will add interest and colour to your shelving and so no need for styling… From a practical point, it’s really helpful to see food on display as a reminder of what can be cooked but also to see when items need topping up.
I often post pictures of our new kitchen on my Instagram page and last week I was asked a question about how much space is needed around a kitchen island; the answer is between 90cm – 100cm, any less than that becomes a little tight. In terms of the overhang then 12″ – 18″ is the recommended amount. One tip is to not put cupboards underneath the breakfast bar. Sounds obvious but I have seen a few occasions where the homeowners have been advised to do this and guess what, it doesn’t work!
One year on and we couldn’t be happier with our kitchen. We spend so much more time together cooking as a family, either all cooking at the same time or half of us sitting at the breakfast bar. That’s the beauty of it, it’s so sociable.
As you can see, there is so much to think about when planning a kitchen and so I thought I would write a little checklist. If there is anything else that you need in terms of kitchen advice then please comment below and I will do my best to help.
Top tips for planning a new kitchen
- Designing a kitchen is a complicated and expensive process and I would strongly advise you seek expert advice. Even if you have a really good idea of where you want everything to go, a kitchen designer will help you translate your ideas into a workable and cost-saving layout.
- Ask yourself if you need a full kitchen overhaul or can you get away with small updates? If the cupboard carcass is ok then you only need to replace the doors and handles?
- Make recycling easy and invest in separate compartments for food, recycling and general waste
- Make sure the children’s Tupperware drawer/shelf is somewhere they can reach as long term, this will encourage independence when they want to fetch themselves their own bowl or beaker. It’s also a great draw for little ones to play with and empty (!) while you are trying to prepare food
- Keep everyday items at waist height or above as you don’t want to be bending down every time you need a kitchen item.
- Choosing the cabinets, kitchen tiles and hardware for your new scheme can be lots of fun but don’t forget about what goes inside your units. Drawer dividers, pull-out larders and carousel cupboards are just a few of the smart storage solutions that will help keep your kitchen organised, making the most of every square inch of space.
- Go for as much worktop space as you can as this proves invaluable when prepping and serving food.
- Storage, storage, storage, you can never have too much. Be sure to fill every last corner and create bespoke cupboards if space is unconventional or awkward. Put overhead cabinets right up to the ceiling, rather than leaving a gap on top that collects dust.
- When designing a kitchen, make sure you put functionality first. The triangle rule for the sink, fridge and oven is important and will help to create an easy flow.
- Drinks fridges can be fitted in very narrow spaces (as small as 20cm) and can free up much-needed fridge space. It can also be switched off to save electricity when not in use.
- If the whole family likes to come together in the kitchen then a breakfast bar is a good idea
- Average heights for breakfast bar areas are 90cm, the overhang of worktops tend to be between 30cm – 40cm and based on these measurements, a good height for a bar stool would be 70cm – 75cm.
- Think about all the steam, water and grease in the kitchen, and you’ll understand why installing a backsplash above the cooktop and counters is a good idea. It is much easier to clean grease off a backsplash made of tile, metal or plastic than paint or wallpaper
- I would advise against putting cupboards in awkward places such as under breakfast bars
- Consider a noticeboard, shelf or planner on the wall to avoid annoying paperwork on the worktop
- Pop up, under-counter or drawer plug socket are useful for mobile phone charging
- Open shelving is perfect for everyday items such as plates, bowls and food storage
- Think about a magnetic knife rack that is set on the wall and out of reach of young children
- Make sure you have enough plug sockets. Generally, you will need them near the hob, by the breakfast bar (for phone charging) and then dotted around the rest of the kitchen. Available in almost any finish from matt black, chrome, copper and coloured, plug sockets don’t have to be ugly
- Extractor fans are a must for good ventilation and remember, for all of the tall people out there – install a slanted one to avoid bashing your head. We bought ours from Smeg.
- Stick to a colour scheme to ensure your kitchen feels ordered and calm
- Whilst it is great to have an on-trend kitchen, remember that it is a long term investment and not something that you want to be updating any time soon. instead, create fun and drama with items that can be more easily updated such as pendant lights, bar stools, splashbacks, and kitchenware.
- Make sure you have sufficient lighting, spots with dimmers are ideal as you can adjust the brightness throughout the day.
Below is a selection of Masterclass kitchens, click here to see their full range.