When you design a kitchen in your annexe there are a few questions that need answering that will impact the design.
- Is the kitchen to be just a food preparation area, or more of a living eating space?
- Will the area be used as an entertaining space?
- Are you keen cooks, or do you do more microwave cooking?
- Do you need a lot of preparation space?
- Do you have a well stocked larder, and plenty of ingredients?
- Who cooks in the kitchen? Is it just one person or does the whole family get involved?
- Will there be a lot of foot fall in your kitchen – i.e., does it lead to another space so a lot of people will be passing through?
- What electrical appliances do you have or want? (i.e., what worktop items will you have)
- What built in appliances do you want or have? (i.e., fridges, freezers, oven, hob, dishwasher, washing machine and so on.)
- How much storage is required?
- What is the budget?
The key to a well structured kitchen is planning the space and the location of the most important appliances to enable frequent tasks to be completed easily and efficiently. For example, in order to make a coffee, you need to fill the kettle with water, get the coffee and the milk from the fridge, and find the coffee cups. These need to be located within easy distance in order for the task to be carried out effectively.
This space planning has become known as the ‘work triangle’ which is based on many tasks carried out in a kitchen involving the fridge, cooker and sink. This work triangle is important to consider when planning out the design of your kitchen.
The total distance of the triangle should be between 5 and 7 metres, any less and it may feel cramped, but any more and you will be spending a lot of time walking backwards and forwards. No major traffic routes should cross the triangle.
These days a linear kitchen is becoming more fashionable in order to create a large open plan family space. If a linear kitchen is used, consider arranging zones within that line. An area for cooking, an area for food preparation, an area for serving and washing up. This will allow the appropriate equipment to be stored close to the particular zone, with sufficient workspace to carry out the task.
Consider that the triangle is not always the best solutions. The working triangle is based on one person cooking, with three workstations. However, these days, cooking duties can often be shared, and kitchens sometimes feature more than three work stations.
There are a number of basic kitchen layouts that can be used as a starting point for your design.
If you have space for a narrow kitchen, generally the galley is your only option. Depending on the width of the room, you can go for units on one side or both sides. Ensure 1.2m space down the middle of the units, to allow space for opening cupboard doors and moving comfortably around the room. If there is not quite enough space for units each side, you could use half depth wall units at floor level to allow for a bit more space.
The u-shaped kitchen gives a good layout for the working triangle, and also creates good storage and worktop space. You may require specialist corner units to enable access to the hard to reach corner space.
The L-shaped kitchen offers a good option for the working triangle, particularly if you position the sink halfway down one side of the units, with the cooker halfway down the other.
The island design is really useful for larger kitchens where units are placed around the perimeter. The island can cut down on distances between the working triangle. The island can provide seating, storage, housing for appliances or the sink, or just a preparation area.
Make sure you provide at least a metre of floor space around the island to allow space to move freely.
Tips for appliances
When locating fridges, try to make sure they are not next to a wall, as that will restrict the opening to just 90 degrees.
Don’t position a fridge directly next to an oven/cooker as this will have an impact on efficiency.
Make sure you leave plenty of worktop space between the hob and sink areas.
Lighting in a kitchen is often overlooked, or an afterthought. However, good lighting is essential in a kitchen and must be considered alongside the basic layout. Overhead spot lights are usually good as general lighting, but it is often useful to have lighting under the wall units to light up the worktops and preparation areas. Downlighters work well over islands or you could use a combination of both down lighters and spots depending whether the island is being used to prepare food or more of an eating space.
Storage is a major issue for many people. Sometimes sleek lines and minimalism are often a more dominant factor than the functionality of storage space. Make sure you try to integrate plenty of storage into your kitchen design.
Standard kitchen sizes
Kitchens units, appliances and worktops come in standard sizes. These sizes allow for consistency throughout the industry and are a very economical options compared to the requirement of bespoke units at random measurements.
The height of worktops should be adapted to suit the height of the user and can vary between 850mm – 950mm – generally speaking 900mm is most common.
Kitchen Design Rules of thumb
There are some fundamental design principles when it comes to planning your kitchen that should be considered.
These rules of thumb should help you avoid potential awkward spaces, and poor functionality.
Rule 1 – Kitchen door clearance
Ensure there is at least 400mm clearance between a kitchen door and the nearest units. This essentially means allowing for 1200mm between the units and the wall with the door. If you are planning a narrow galley style kitchen, and the room is less than 1800mm wide, you cannot comfortably use a standard 600mm deep unit. You may need to use bespoke (however this would affect appliances) – or reconsider your design.
Rule 2 – Distance between units
Allow a minimum 1200mm clearance between runs of units. Most doors open up to around 600mm, i.e. dishwasher, oven door, unit door so a minimum of 1200mm will allow people to pass when then doors are open.
A distance of 1500mm between units will allow two people to pass with ease when the doors are closed.
Rule 3 – Work triangle
Try to keep the work triangle to a distance of 7 metres or less, this allows for a comfortable working distance.
Rule 4 – Clearance between worktop and wall mounted cabinet
Allow for at least 400mm clearance between the worktop and wall mounted cupboard, to ensure there is sufficient working space below the cupboard on the worktop.
Rule 5 – Door Interference
Ensure no entry doors or appliance doors interfere with one another.
Rule 6 – Distance behind seating
Ensure you provide enough space behind a seated diner to allow traffic to pass.
The minimum clearance from the table or counter to any wall or other obstruction behind the seating area is 800mm.
If someone is to walk past, a distance of 1100mm should be provided. For a wheelchair to comfortably move past the seated diner a distance of 1500mm should be provided.
Rule 7 – Food preparation and work area
Allow a minimum of 800mm width worktop next to a sink for food preparation and work area.
Rule 8 – Cooking surface
Allow a minimum of 300mm either side of the hob to ensure suitable work space either side of the cooking area. Also ensure that there is a non combustable surface above the hob and a clearance of at least 600mm.
Rule 9 – Traffic
Your kitchen should not be a main thoroughfare to the rest of the house. Make sure traffic does not cross the kitchen work triangle.
Rule 10 – Don,t break up the workspace
Aim to keep things flowing, don,t place a full height cabinet or appliance between any two of the major work centres.
Rule 11 – Place the sink in the centre
The sink should ideally be positioned in the centre of the work triangle as it is the most used area of the kitchen.
Rule 12 – Dishwashers
When positioning your dishwasher, ensure it is at least 500mm from a corner, to allow loading from both sides. Also ensure there is standing space in front of the dishwasher for unloading.
Rule 13 – Oven set down space
A minimum of 400mm is required beside an oven to be used as a set down space. The same goes for a microwave.
Rule 14 – Fridge set down space
Ideally a minimum of 400mm worktop space should be allowed for on the door opening side of the fridge for setting down items.
Rule 15 – Fire
Don’t forget the fire regulations, and the necessary provision of smoke detectors, and extinguishers according to the regulations.
Rule 16 – Regulations
Be sure to check the building regulations and standards to ensure your kitchen design complies.