It’s the heart of the home, but when it comes to designing your dream kitchen, it can also be a bit of a minefield. From choosing the island size to cooker extraction, there’s a lot to consider. That’s why we caught up with Steve Dempsey, Owner of Ebstone Kitchens, to find out what’s on trend, why lighting matters and more.
Is there a big difference between planning a new kitchen in a new extension and redesigning an existing kitchen?
In an existing kitchen the services, like drainage, gas and electric, are usually in place. They can be moved but this then increases the costs, so sometimes it feels as if some aspects have already been decided, but every house is different. With an extension you have more scope for creativity, a brand new space provides you with a blank canvas to start afresh. Clients are realising that it’s not just a kitchen anymore; it may be a breakfast room, dining room and a living room too, which means there’s lots more to think about.
What are some of the factors to consider in deciding where everything should go?
Ideally, you will have a defined working area, known as the ‘working triangle’ – which is a triangular space between the stovetop, sink and the refrigerator, but it also depends on your other requirements for the room. Some factors to consider are: what style of cooking do you prefer – range, gas or induction? How many people live in the house and how will they use the space? Do we need to include utility storage or is there a separate utility room? What style of dining space is required – formal, informal or both? And what other furniture will be included in the design? The final design should be about creating a balance to every area.
What are some of the current trends you’ve noticed?
The majority of kitchen projects we’ve undertaken recently are all utilising an open-plan format – creating a social hub at the heart of the home with a sofa, dining table and island seating. We’ve recently seen a decline in range cooking, with more people opting for eye-level single and combination ovens. Induction hobs are now very popular due to energy efficiency and the overall design, which has reduced the demand for gas. More people are asking for boiling hot water taps, again due to energy efficiency, design and it also declutters work surfaces. Currently, whites and grey shades are a very popular cupboard door choice, with a matt finish now overtaking gloss. Occasionally, we still have requests for a more traditional design, and we have also mixed the traditional and contemporary looks for stunning individuality. It’s all down to style and your personal choice.
How important is the positioning of the stovetop with regards to ventilation?
Ventilation is extremely important. The purpose of an extractor is to expel the air as quickly as possible, so a long route where the extraction is far away from the outside wall is not ideal. The impact of the distance and the more bends used on the route will reduce the airflow for the extractor also meaning it has to work harder. A great starting design point would be to determine where your hob and extraction will work most efficiently, and then use that to expand your design.
What are some of the common kitchen island problems or issues that people should keep in mind?
Everyone wants an island! They are a great focal point of the kitchen, but the reality of having a significantly sized island in the middle of an extension that doesn’t fit the balance of the room can affect the flow of an area, so careful consideration should be used regarding final sizes. You need to think about how many people you may want to seat around the island, if you can still use the utilities and walk around it if people are sitting at it, its position in relation to the sink or oven, as well as making sure there’s room to open your drawers, cupboards and dishwasher properly. Some people choose to have a cooking area or sink as part of their island, so if you have young children, think about the safety of the seating area in relationship to that. Ultimately, an island is a blank canvas and can be transformed into any shape or form to suit your needs.
There are so many choices when it comes to work surfaces, and budget obviously plays a big part in people’s decisions. What’s popular with your clients at the moment?
The starting point is laminate, but we hardly ever use it now because people really want the icing on the cake. 99% of the work surfaces we’re supplying are quartz stone which has taken over from granite, it has reduced in price now and is similar to granite. Clients are thinking long term and they want a durable, hardwearing surface. Colours are important. With granite you might have had 20 colours to choose from, but with quartz you have 100 and the design and colours are more consistent. Recently, we have seen a design change to 20mm depth selection.
In terms of flooring, is there anything you’d steer customers away from?
A few years ago we always used to put in laminate, but now engineered timber board is very popular, and it’s quite durable as well. In a lot of extensions people are choosing tiles and underfloor heating which offers the added benefit of freeing up wall space.
Lighting can obviously have a massive impact on the feel of a space, what are some of the options available?
It’s very important to consider lighting; it adds the finishing touch to your living space. We have different types of ‘mood’ lighting for different times of the day as well as secondary lighting, like pendants over islands or chandeliers over the dining table. You need to consider areas around where you’re cooking, eating, or washing up, which can be enhanced with clever use of under-unit lighting. There are so many different lighting aspects and options – drawer, unit, plinth, cupboard – and we plan all of those out with the client when we’re designing their kitchen.