How do I make my kitchen more efficient?

Kitchens have always been the hub of family life and most people remember the “good old days” around the kitchen table. Whether for breakfast, family dinners, tea, or dinner parties, a well-designed kitchen will be in the centre of activities.

Your kitchen is probably visited by more people than any other room in your house. In a sense, it makes a statement of who you are and sets the tone for the rest of the house. An elegant, well-organised kitchen makes entertaining a delight and draws the family together.

Apart from appearance, a kitchen needs to be functional and orderly. Whether it is large or small, a well-thought-out design will make it easier to find things, provide efficient storage space and make it a pleasure to prepare meals.

Whether you are planning a new kitchen or looking for ideas to upgrade your existing kitchen, here are some hints to help better organise your kitchen and to make it more classy, more functional and efficient and to utilise space better.

Kitchen worktops

Kitchen worktops are probably the first thing anybody notices when they enter your kitchen. Are they elegant/fashionable/striking or dull? Are they orderly or cluttered? Are the surfaces spacious or cluttered?

Kitchen worktops are more than just surfaces on which to prepare food or store appliances. They can be a special display case to make a fashion statement. They are also the production line when preparing meals or snacks and a well-designed kitchen will make it easy to move from the one step to the next, without having to move everything out of the way and dig out the next appliance, or having to walk back-and-forth between storage and preparation areas.

Wide, attractive, stylish worktops are unbeatable for displaying your special crockery and appliances and keeping them handy for instant use. The more worktop space you have, the greater the pleasure of cooking and baking and for setting out the special preparation bowls, serving dishes, or special occasion serving platters.

New worktops will change the entire ambience of your kitchen. Depending on your preference and taste, at the top end of worktops, you have the choice of ultra-compact, solid surface, quartz, natural stone and wood surfaces in a multitude of colours, textures, finishes and accessories.

  • The natural integrity of top-quality wooden worktops ensures that it will never go out of fashion. It remains one of the most versatile, luxurious and hard-wearing finishes.
  • It is probably the only material that actually improves over time. As wood matures, it gains character and the developing patina deepens the colour.
  • Every board used in a worktop is unique. Even if the different parts are cut from the same tree, each section is still different from its neighbour but harmonizes perfectly.
  • Wooden worktops from centuries ago still grace the kitchens of many mansions across the UK. This provides ample proof of its strength, toughness and resilience to withstand heavy wear and tear.
  • Any DIY enthusiast can repair a wooden worktop, simply by sanding out scratches or filling in holes or dents. Even where serious damage occurs through rough handling, it is possible to replace the damaged part and blend in the new replacement by sanding, oiling and polishing the surface.
  • Solid wood provides excellent value for money. Pricewise, it falls in the low- to midrange of premier worktops, while aesthetically it can match even the most expensive material.
  • Wooden worktops are provided in a variety of finishes from matte to high-gloss. Depending on the type of timber, it can be polished to highlight the flames of the wood grain and patterns.
  • Wooden worktops are available in large sizes and different thickness, by cutting staves that are finger-jointed together, maintaining the allure of the natural wood grain patterns. In top-grade wooden worktops, the staves are carefully selected and prepared to ensure consistent grain and colouration.
  • Wood is naturally antibacterial, enhancing its hygiene factor. The worktops are easy to clean and maintain.

Extra space in your kitchen

Nesting tables
If you need extra surfaces in your kitchen when you are preparing for larger gatherings or if you are baking, you can consider adding a nesting table underneath your worktops, breakfast top or kitchen island. The nesting table could be on castors to be used separately or fitted on slides to glide out from under the worktop.

Sliding worktop
Another ingenious idea is to fit an additional sliding worktop between the work surface and the cabinets. When you slide them out on gliders, it can widen the work surface to almost double its normal width on those occasions that one just doesn’t have anywhere to put all those extra mixing bowls, utensils and electrical appliances. It takes up very little space below the normal worktop and the height of the cabinets or shelving space below is negligibly reduced by only a few inches. For solid surface, quartz, etc, it is a good idea to use a thinner slab than the worktop itself.

Designer cubbyholes around the door frame or other spaces
Fitting bespoke cubbies around door frames and other openings or spaces utilises a lot of unused space and makes the opening more attractive and gives the kitchen a unique atmosphere. It is the perfect display and storage space for appliances, cookery books, condiments, spices, or display items.

Designer hanging frame above stove or island
For a country-style kitchen, a specially designed frame to hang large utensils, kettles etc is particularly effective to create additional space and create atmosphere. Chrome or brightly coloured hangers can spice up a modern kitchen.

Pantry cupboards
Pantry or larder cupboards come in all shapes and sizes to double or even treble the storage space. From a walk-in larder, to a smaller pull-out unit, the pantry cupboard typically has shelves in the doors, with double-sided hinged shelves that swing out to access the rear shelves and those right at the back of the cupboard.

This means there are four shelves, one behind the other, and each one is easily accessible, as opposed to one deep shelf where items right at the back are difficult to get hold of.

Island countertops

Extra table or workspace
As a breakfast or dinner table, or for additional workspace an island is a good solution. Place it where you have easy access to the things around you, for instance, the storage cabinets, the refrigerator, pantry cupboard and stove. As an alternative, the stove hob can be centred in the island with worktop space around it.

More than one cook in the kitchen
An island also allows more than one person to work in the kitchen without getting in each other’s way.

Focal point in the kitchen
To create a focal point, use mood lighting and/or an extractor fan. It is also a good way to camouflage the air conditioning duct.

Extra storage
Below the island countertop, you can add shelves, or cabinets, or nesting tables (on two, three, or even four sides.)

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Author: Ivan Tennant