Whether it’s a full-blown revamp or simple updates, Gabrielle Fagan stirs up some style solutions for the heart of the home.
Our kitchens are having to work harder than ever these days, as we’re spending more time in them – and we’re not just using them to cook up a storm.
That eating area now has to be able to perform as a family space, an entertaining zone, and maybe a home office for many of us too. So it needs to not only look the business, but to function well to facilitate our busy and multi-layered home lives.
Looking to give your kitchen an update? Follow our recipe for creating the perfect kitchen in your home, whatever your budget…
1. Island story
An island is still the most coveted design feature in a kitchen – and it’s easy to see why. It’s invaluable as a preparation area, and means you can flex your culinary skills without turning your back on the party.
“Kitchen islands and breakfast bars offer a versatile and adaptable space that can be used in so many ways,” says Joanne Emery, marketing manager at Burbidge.
“They can create zones in your area, giving the illusion of two separate functional rooms, whilst keeping the room clutter-free by providing additional storage. Consider incorporating open shelving for items you use frequently.”
2. Dark matters
Black is a design classic, whether for clothes or kitchen units, and paired with a metallic it’s a recipe for sophistication.
Choose handles, taps and kitchen accessories in brass, copper or bronze – the finishes which have taken over from last year’s polished chrome.
3. Cooking with colour
Our growing desire for colourful spaces is reflected in more vivid kitchen cabinetry and ‘colour pops’, which allow for a more playful, individual look.
If you’re worried you may tire of units or tiles in a vibrant shade, or they’ll look dated as fashions move on, simply shake up the space with colourful accessories instead.
Paintings, storage canisters, or worktop appliances in funky shades could be just the colour ‘pop’ you need, and they can be easily moved or updated in the future.
4. Double identity
There’s a real trend for kitchens to feel like extensions of living rooms now too. Our home-based lifestyle means we want spaces where it’s easy to cook for the family during the day, but have the ‘wow’ factor to transform into striking evening entertainment spaces at night, or just somewhere to relax and unwind.
Ensure your colour scheme in both areas – the kitchen and the lounge area – harmonises, which will make the space look bigger and blend together.
5. Savvy switch up
If a full-scale revamp is out of the question, don’t underestimate the power of replacing cabinet door fronts, which can transform your kitchen at a fraction of the cost of a refit.
If you’re into DIY, repainting kitchen units is fairly straightforward – but ensure you prepare the surface well beforehand, by lightly sanding, cleaning with white spirit, and applying two coats of paint. B&Q has a good range of cabinet paint, including the GoodHome Durable Delaware Matt Cabinet & Wardrobe Paint, £20 for 0.75L.
For a final flourish, invest in new handles and light switches to give the room an extra lift.
6. Ace the space
If you haven’t got acres of space to work with, you need to make the most of ever corner. A cook’s trolley, a hanging rack for utensils, and ceiling-height cupboards can all be a boon – and the plus point is everything will be within easy each.
7. Pendant power
Move over spotlights and track lighting – pendant lights currently rule in kitchens. One statement light, or a group of three, will brilliantly define a selected space, such as a kitchen island or dining area.
8. Make a splash
Swapping a tiled splashback for a striking mural will take a kitchen from functional to fabulous.
“Murals never fail in adding impact and are brilliant for adding drama and depth, giving an illusion of looking out onto a different scene, view or landscape. They can have a magical effect on a room,” says Michael Ayerst, managing director of Surface View, who recreate images on made-to-measure wall murals, canvasses, blinds and ceramic tiles.
Gilded Paper Wallpaper Mural by Richard Hamilton Smith GS, from the Trunk Archive at Surface View, from £40 per square metre, Surfaceview.co.uk.
9. Modern mix
“The enduring trend for kitchens is about mixing it up, whether that’s with contrasting materials such as wood and metallics, or textured and smooth finishes,” says Gary Griffin, UK sales manager UK at Rational (rational.de/en).
“Cabinets incorporating the grain and beauty of timber are one of the keynote features of 2020. It’s hardly surprising, as natural materials such as wood suit both contemporary and classic homes and this is a great way to ensure that, no matter what your design choice, your home has a warm, relaxed feel.”
Whilst neutral palettes remain popular, Griffin notes there’s been a move towards the ‘dark side’, with bolder choices of black or grey units – but unlike their shiny predecessors of the Nineties, these now come in an understated matt finish.
Rational’s Uno handle-less kitchen combines an oiled cracked oak veneer with sleek matt black units in a Monolack, a new lacquered laminate finish. Features include a pull-out coffee machine module and a Passe-Partout internal storage system (from £12,000).
10. Take to the floor
A feature wall, a stunning chandelier, and a ‘look at me’ choice of flooring in a punchy shade could be the perfect ingredients for a glamorous space.
11. Love a larder
While the concept of a larder harks back to an era before refrigeration, they’re now the ultimate chic feature in today’s kitchens, and provide plenty of space for all those jars and ingredients that can clutter up the fridge or worktops.
Want to know the rest of the kit on the dream kitchen list? A range cooker, instant hot water taps, remote-control extraction units, and integrated recycling units.
12. Worktop wizardry
The worktop is the workhorse of any kitchen, and so it needs to be tough, practical and good-looking. View this feature as a way of demonstrating your taste and bringing individuality to the kitchen design.
As it will have a big visual impact, don’t leave your worktop choice ’til last – instead start with the surfaces and match other key pieces, like the cabinets, to them.
Decor tip: Veined marble is in vogue, as it’s more interesting than a plain top but won’t dominate. If you’re after a contrasting look, choose white marble and pick up on the veining colour for the paint shade on the cabinetry.
13. Rose-tinted touches
Pink is having a moment in kitchens. This soft shade can bring warmth to a cool space and works particularly well in an open-plan area, where you don’t want a harsh contrast between the living and cooking area.