How to Design a Kitchen to Stand the Test of Time

At Which Cooker, we believe that the kitchen is at the heart of every home.

For many of us designing and buying a new kitchen is something that we may do only once or maybe twice in a lifetime, reasons for this could be the expense, renting, moving to a property that has a kitchen design that is already both functional and aesthetically pleasing, or we purchase a new home with a new kitchen.

I have moved several times in my life, both renting and buying and only now, 3 years into living in our current home have we just designed and installed our new timeless kitchen. It’s a decision not to take lightly as it’s one that we will live with for a long time to come.

The Classic Kitchen Design

So, for us, we decided that ‘The Classic Kitchen Design’ was the right choice, and possibly for you if you are looking for a kitchen that will stand the test of time.

The Classic Kitchen Style is flexible and simple (this doesn’t need to mean boring)…you only need to think about your wardrobe, who doesn’t own a pair of dark denim jeans and a white shirt? It’s what you put with it that makes brings out your personality and the wow factor (if that’s the look you are going for) and, comparing the classic kitchen to an outfit of jeans and a white shirt your budget will dictate how much you spend on it!

Like a classic white shirt, I personally think to achieve the classic kitchen style look, white (or cream cupboards) are essential for creating a timeless theme along with shaker-style cabinet doors.

To build your theme and, if you wish to incorporate darker & contrasting colours you can do so with quarts, wood or stainless steel worktops, door handles, lighting, tiles, paint & contrasting appliances, these days cookers come in many colours other than black, white or stainless steel.

You don’t need to be worried, just think about those denim jeans and white shirt and how you would style them with belts, shoes, scarfs, jewellery and for the ladies maybe a bright lipstick?

When it came to designing our kitchen I wanted to achieve a light and airy feel along with a kitchen that wouldn’t date…timeless!

We decided on cream shaker doors, with pale wood effect worktops (We love wood, and it’s what we took out,* however, we are not the DIY fanatics and sanding and staining worktops every year just isn’t our thing, so we went for an easy maintenance option). We opted for white walls and an accent colour of duck egg blue which we incorporated through matt tiles.

classic-kitchen-design

How Long Should a Kitchen Last?

A good quality kitchen on average can last over 20 years, if you have chosen well with quality kitchen doors, units and kitchen worktops. However, if a cheaper kitchen has been put installed, perhaps because the property was a rental previously or if a property developer was looking to make a fast return on investment you may find that you need to replace a kitchen before.

My partner and I have discussed how long our previous kitchen had been installed prior to our redesign and think that it’s around 10 years, this is based on when the house was extended by a previous owner. In that time it has seen three different families living here, so wear and tear is another factor in how long a kitchen will last.

What Should You Consider When Designing a New Kitchen?

One of the main reasons people start thinking about designing and installing a new kitchen is that the design layout simply doesn’t work for them and, more often than not, crunch time comes when a big appliance such as an oven breaks…this was really the straw that broke the camel’s back for us. Despite a few doors dropping, starting to look a little shabby, the main cavity in my double oven stopped working.  

It’s very easy to get carried away looking at units, colours and shiny appliances, but one aspect that is often overlooked it kitchen safety. We have covered this in our guide to ‘Saftey First Kitchen Design’ here.

Best Kitchen Layouts

Start by thinking about the shape, size and space of your kitchen and what is known as “The Working Triangle”. Where you position the 3 key large kitchen appliances in a triangle; 1. fridge, 2. oven/hob and 3. sink/dishwasher.

(I learnt about this basic design principle when I was at catering college and in my opinion, it’s a little dated now with the various kitchen appliance choices now available, such as built-in ovens with separate hobs and the more popular Island kitchen layout), however, if you keep this plan in mind you won’t go far wrong in designing a kitchen that will function at its best.

The most popular home kitchen layouts are:

  1. The U-Shaped Kitchen
  2. L-Shaped Kitchen
  3. Island Kitchen
  4. Galley Kitchen
  5. One-Wall Kitchen
diagram-of-a-kitchen-work-triangle

Kitchen Functionality

The most important part of designing a new kitchen is to ensure that it is going to suit your needs and style.

Ultimately, you are likely to be governed by space and budget, but either way, it’s important to really look at your kitchen and make a note of all the things that you like and that ‘work’ for you along with the things that really bother you i.e.

The height of your kitchen cabinets, as someone who is tall, I ensured that my new cabinets & worktops were slightly raised to improve my comfort. I also decided to choose a built-in eye-level double oven. To save space, but also so I didn’t have to bend down.

Walkways you will definitely want to consider this if you have a kitchen that is limited to a galley kitchen layout or Island kitchen layout. Make sure all paths are at least 36 inches wide.

Busy traffic areas, if you have a young family and your kitchen is in the middle of your home, on it’s way to your back garden or leading to your dining room consider where you will position your hob and oven to reduce the risk of accidents occurring by caught panhandles and other spills and potential situations when removing hot food from the cooker.

If you’re considering an Island Kitchen what are your intentions. Will the island hold a hob? should you consider an air vented hob, or if a gas or electric what extractor will be best for your kitchen? or will you have a sink in there too?

Power points, How are your power points now? Do you have enough, do you need to incorporate more in your new design? I had two extra double electric sockets with USB chargers included in my design, but maybe a pop up 3-way socket (with or without) USB would be a better space-saving option.

Kitchen lighting is often overlooked or added as an ‘afterthought’, but it’s really important, particularly for safety (to maximise the visibility in working areas), but also for aesthetics and today there is a huge array of lighting colours and tones that can dramatically change the look and atmosphere of your kitchen.

Where to Look for Inspiration When Designing Your Timeless Kitchen

With the internet at our fingertips, we have access to a vast array of kitchen styles to look at and of course, we have friends/family and magazines to look towards for inspiration from their kitchens too.

One two particular sources that I like looking at for kitchens are Pinterest and Houzz. If you’ve not taken a look at Pinterest before you can follow this link here ‘white classic kitchens‘, or ‘kitchens that stand the test of time‘ you will be presented with a huge choice of classic white kitchens ideas to get inspired from.

*If you had any concern of us removing and disposing of beautiful solid wood worktops, we didn’t. We have a great builder/decorator who turned them into shelves for two other rooms in our home and made a very large chopping board for the new kitchen!

Under-Counter Oven
Under-Counter Oven
Eye-Level Oven
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