A Guiide to Planning the Perfect Kitchen (part 1)

The heart of the home in most families, the once-humble kitchen has been elevated to a ‘gourmet space’. With new materials, space saving ideas, design and decoration to die for, the kitchen is in a renaissance - by Françoise Murat

The heart of the home in most families, the once-humble kitchen has been elevated to a ‘gourmet space’. With new materials, space saving ideas, design and decoration to die for, the kitchen is in a renaissance.

Together with the bathroom, the kitchen is the most important room in the house when it’s time to sell. To get the best price for your home it is worth spending time and money to replace a tired kitchen, or if budget is tight consider replacing certain items to update it and re-fresh the look. If you’re staying put, decide on how long you are going to live there and go into a greater depth on the use, functionality and the aesthetics of the room.

Here’s an easy plan to follow to ensure you have all your bases covered:


Staying put? It’s important to plan, plan and plan again (!) to ensure you spend your money wisely. So think about the storage requirements – what do you want seen and what do you want hidden away, i.e. glasses, mugs, crockery, food stuffs? Colours and lighting are most important - it influences both how you feel and how the room presents itself – does it feel cramped, busy or airy? Think about the textures and colours that appeal to you, as well as the type and position of the lighting.

Is your kitchen the hub of your entertaining space? Is open plan living an option? Or do you want to have a separate cooking area to the eating area? Do you need lots of preparation area for your palate-enticing cooking extravaganzas? Do you really have enough space for that island?

Remember appliances - dishwasher, a washing machine, the fridge and freezer as well as other counter top appliances such as microwaves and toasters. Make a list of what appliances you use a lot and need to have on show for easy access and others that can be put way for tidiness.

Take a few minutes to list the issues with your current kitchen such as a sink which is too small, not enough cooking space, a lack of storage for dry goods for example. This will stand you in good stead when you go shopping – you will have a list of must-haves.


Visit lots of kitchen showrooms, look at the finishes, the layout, the lighting and the ideas that kitchen designers have come up with in the last few years. Look at different styles: minimalist, country style, shaker style, French... the list goes on. This will allow you to pin point exactly the look you want - something that will enhance your home and fit in with your lifestyle. These days kitchens are multi-purpose rooms so you need to fit in a lot of wishes, wants and needs in a relatively small space.

If you live in London, it’s easy to visit Wigmore Street, chock full of store after store of suppliers all vying for your attention! From small suppliers of über slick German and Italian imports to big name show-rooms or even smaller independent cabinet makers, Wigmore Street has it all. North London and other areas of London also have many kitchen showrooms for you to visit. Outside the capital the choice is vast and pricing can sometimes be more cost effective, especially if you commission a cabinet maker locally- just show them what you’re looking for and as long as they have experience in kitchen design and making, you’re on your way.


Most people who sell property for a living, just like Sarah Beeny, recommend that you allow an outlay of at least 5% (some say 10%) of the total value of your home towards a new kitchen. Spend any less and it is unlikely to significantly increase the value of your home. If your kitchen is perfect – stop reading!

For a brand new kitchen, I suggest the following four things when looking at where to allocate the budget: 35% of the budget on cabinetry, 30% of the budget on surfaces (floors and counters), 25% on appliances and 10% on lighting. When selling, the type of kitchen you chose should depend on the style of the property and the price bracket. It is pointless to spend a huge amount of money on a top end kitchen for a small two bed Victorian house which sells in the low to mid price bracket. If in doubt visit other houses for sale in the same road/area and see what looks stylish and what doesn’t look so nice. Don’t be afraid to contrast a period property with an ultra modern kitchen.

If the budget doesn’t stretch to a complete revamp you can do lots of things to enhance your existing kitchen. Changing cabinet doors, even door handles, is easy and simple and can be done in a day. A new counter-top is always a good idea – choose something that matches the new kitchen doors, along with new taps and maybe a new oven or dishwasher. Beware - cheap fittings look and feel cheap and buyers do notice. A smart German oven and dishwasher will impress more than handmade Italian floor tiles so spend your money on the important things and you can’t go wrong.

It takes time to plan a successful kitchen so take the time and prioritise the ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ for your new or updated kitchen before you go any further.

Next time we look at measuring up a new kitchen and how to finalise your project with some expert advice from kitchen specialists you can visit.


Photograph kindly provided by www.uberkitchens.eu


Françoise Murat & Associates specialise in interior, garden & landscape design.

For more garden and interior design information visit us at www.francoisemurat.com.