Interiors: The top 6 features we designed into our kitchen

When we moved into our 1850's cottage, we knew we wanted to modernise it and add our own touch, as most of the period features had sadly been lost over the years.

We also knew that when we had a family, we would want more flowing spaces, instead of smal, lseparate rooms, and prime candidate was the kitchen. There was a big meaty load bearing 100 year old wall between us and our dream. Although we were sad to lose such an old wall, it wasn't in great shape and to be honest, it's not how people live in the modern day, so it had to be done.

Of course, with that came a lot of dust, disrupton and hard work but whilst that was happening, we set to work on designing our kitchen fittings.

I had a picture of my dream kitchen in my head, but we also had to be practical and think what would work best for this house and our lifestyle. So as much as I wanted a range with a mantel, it just wasn't right for a hardworking family home with two babies.

However, there were several features which we knew we had to make work in this kitchen and would make the most of the space. So here they are in no particular order:

 1) After inheriting a small country kitchen it was really important for us to have a sense of space. Introducing light and a connection to the outdoors was vital. We looked at doing 5 foot of bifold doors across the whole side of the house but would have lost a bit of internal space. 

So we did 3 foot bifold doors to allow us to open up to the garden and a huge picture window. It’s floor to ceiling frame adds so much light and interest. We are forever gazing outside as the birds and nature goes about its business. We did consider having it as a traffic door but it wouldn’t have added anything and cost 3 times as much. Sure, we could have had another wall of storage, but honestly, looking out of the window whilst cooking at the island is a dream.

2) A pull out pantry was next on my dream list and absolutely lived up to the hype. If I could have created a walk in larder then that might have been the only thing to outdo it.  I can fit so much in, it slides out like a dream and each shelf has a designated use; baking, spices, dried goods likes pasta and I can view it all from both sides. It was easily one of the most transformative things in our new kitchen and made up for losing storage space from wall units.

3) It sounds like such a mid life thing to say but an integrated bin was up there on our list of features to include in our new kitchen. We wanted a two section bin to make it easier to recycle. Plus not having to see it, or have it getting in the way, and allowing us plenty of space to put waste has made life with a family that bit easier.

4) We had a gas hob and single oven in our old kitchen, which served us both fine but we liked the sleek look of an induction hob. We also wanted it to sit on our peninsular island so we could have a ‘chefs table’ where someone could sit at the island with a glass of wine while the other cooked. Over time kids would sit and do homework on the stools and the view over the garden makes a sometimes laborious task that bit easier. We also put in a double stacked oven to make sure we had ample cooking space with a growing family.

5)  We maximised the storage space we did have by going higher up to the ceiling with the tallest units they had, as it's just a dust magnet and wasted space. It didn;t sadly go right up to the ceiling but it has made a huge difference to storing occasional use things. It's not much good for people like my mum who are 5 foot and peanut, but we have ladders and stools to make the job easier. Also, having deep 1000m pan drawers everywhere, means we can fit more in, see what we need, whether it's a saucepan or crockery, and with hidden double drawer inserts, we have a hidden place for cutlery and utensils.

6) When we had put in the picture window and island hob, the issue of extraction came into view. If we had put a traditional cooker hood in, it would have blocked the view we had worked so hard to create in our opinion. For our space, the only option for us was a ceiling extractor. They are hugely expensive and we looked fot ex display to save on money but it has meant it is largely hidden from view and doesn't detract from the open space.

It is so important when redesigning your house to really think about how the light, flow and sense of space will be affected, rather than going for a one size fits all design. Not all kitchen designers will consider this for you (in fact most won't), so spend time tracking the way the sun moves around the room, whether you could completely change up the layout and whether walls can be moved to assist in opening up a space. Yes you want an island (who doesn't these days) but would a penisular create the same effect and save you space? Try not to be too trend led and go with what works for you.

Also think about where you want your sink and hob, the places you spend the most time hanging out, and make sure you incoroporate a view or a more sociable feeling if you can. For us it was important to be able to keep an eye on the babies at the same time as getting jobs done, as well as maximising light and storage. 

What are your kitchen bug bears?

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