The House Directory’s Kitchen Design Tips

The kitchen is the heart of your home. From morning coffee rituals to family gatherings over dinner, it’s the place where you make most memories. It’s not just a place to cook; it’s a space that reflects your lifestyle, taste, and functionality needs.

Principally, planning a new kitchen is exciting. Yet, it can be daunting when you don’t know what to do. After all, it’s a major investment, and you want to give every detail the consideration it deserves.

Luckily, kitchen designers have the expertise to guide you through the process of decision-making. Moreover, with the House Directory’s kitchen design tips, you should gain enough valuable information.

Here’s‘s guide to help you begin the journey to plan your new kitchen.


Jacobean Manor House Kitchen by Guild Anderson
Image: Jacobean Manor House Kitchen by Guild Anderson. Jake Eastham Photography

Where To Start

First, you should decide how you want to use your kitchen and plan accordingly. For example, do you want it to double as a laundry room or an area for your children to do homework? Do you plan to watch TV in it or keep it media-free?

How about the appliances? Will you need more than one oven, a dishwasher, or a coffee machine? Do you want a built-in microwave, waste disposal, or a boiling water tap?

To wrap your head around the whole idea, start by interviewing designers or kitchen planners. Then, ask several of them to submit their ideas and a corresponding budget.

Furthermore, you can contact the Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association for a list of affiliated members nationwide. It publishes a free consumer guide with practical advice for those considering buying a new kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, or home office.

Fascination Kitchen by Mowlem & Co
Image: Fascination Kitchen by Mowlem & Co

Kitchen Layout

If starting from scratch, use graph paper to make a detailed floor plan of your existing kitchen. Such drawings should show doors and their opening direction, as well as the size and position of windows.

They should also demonstrate the location of existing appliances, plumbing, electric fixtures, and cabinets.

In general, to ensure the arrangement of a kitchen provides maximum comfort and efficiency, think about ergonomics. Ideally, the sink, cooker, and fridge should form a ‘work triangle.’ No two should be more than double an arm’s length away from each other.

Having said this, among the most essential aspects to consider is whether you need a single or double sink. You need to also decide if you prefer sinks in stainless steel, ceramic, or Corian®.

In all cases, aim to position electric switches and sockets as far as possible from the sink.

Image: Cambridge Kitchen by Humphrey Munson. Photographer: Paul Craig
Image: Cambridge Kitchen by Humphrey Munson. Photographer: Paul Craig

Talking about the dishwasher, it’s best to situate it near the sink and tableware cabinets. As for the cooker, aim to position it on an exterior wall if possible. This makes it easier to vent an extractor hood (between 53 and 76 cm from the top surface of the cooker).

Lastly, when deciding on the position of the cooker, you also need to keep safety in mind. If it’s near an open window, drafts can extinguish gas flames or set curtains alight. What’s more, it’s vital to install a fan for ventilation if there’s insufficient space for a cooker hood.

Image: Cotswolds Eclectic Kitchen by Cheverell. Adam Carter Photography

Kitchen Island Design Tips

Having an island is a fantastic idea. However, you should only consider getting one if you have sufficient space. After all, you need to consider clearance for opening appliance doors, especially for oversized industrial models.

Optimally, you have to allow about one metre between the island and kitchen units. Additionally, it’s better to make sure to equip it with electrical points and storage.

Sometimes, the island can be an ideal location to place the kitchen sink, the cooker (with extractor hood above), or an extended countertop for dining. That said, if you plan to incorporate the sink into an island, you should position it to face into the room.

John Lewis of Hungerford - kitchen
Image: John Lewis of Hungerford kitchen

Choosing Appliances

Choosing your kitchen appliances is an essential step in designing the kitchen. First, you need to select appliances and get their technical specifications. Then, it comes time to decide where each appliance will fit in your floor plan.

Here are some tips to consider when choosing appliances for your kitchen.

  • Opt for dishwashing drawers instead of a standard dishwasher.
  • Fisher & Paykel are innovators in dishwasher drawers. The two-drawer model, shown below, would allow you to run one for daily use or the two simultaneously when entertaining.
  • Refrigerated drawers are handy for keeping daily essentials, particularly if the main refrigerator is far from the cooker.
Fisher & Paykel
Image: Fisher & Paykel‘s Double DishDrawer™ Dishwasher

Standard Cabinet Unit Sizes

Principally, standard cabinet units in the UK are 30cm, 60cm, or 90cm wide. To establish precise cabinet sizes, get a catalogue from the company you plan to buy the units from. Once you indicate where appliances will fit in your floor plan, add the cabinetry.

All in all, remember to include cutlery and utensil drawers. Plus, consider drawers rather than cabinets for crockery, pots, and pans.

You’ll also need cabinetry (or a combination of cabinets and shelving) for items, including:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Dry ingredients
  • Spices
  • Oils
  • Baking goods
  • Cleaning products

Worktops and Splashbacks

Basically, the standard worktop height for comfortable posture while working in the kitchen is 88 to 90 cm. When choosing worktops and splashbacks, you have many options. For instance, granite, quartz, and marble are popular for preparation areas and/or sustainable hardwood.

Image: Kitchen by Guild Anderson, painted in Paint & Paper Library’s Salt V. charlie@lukonicphotography

Generally, kitchen worktops should have as few joins as possible for cleaning to be easy. Here are a few of the worktop material options to consider.

  • Wood Worktops: Wood requires high maintenance and needs to be regularly protected with a linseed-oil-based sealant. On top of that, it can easily mark when scorched or scratched.
  • Granite Worktops: Granite is a more hard-wearing material that can withstand high temperatures. It’s also ideal for pastry-making (as the dough won’t stick to a cool surface).
  • Marble and Limestone: While aesthetically pleasing, marble and limestone can easily be stained by contact with lemon juice or oils.
  • Reinforced Concrete: Such material can be cast on-site to create a seamless surface.
  • Stainless Steel: This is one of the most popular materials for worktops and splashbacks. It has the advantage of being hygienic and withstanding heat. Yet, it scratches quite easily.
GEC Anderson Stainless Steel Sink and worktop
Image: Stainless steel with Series A Sink by GEC Anderson
  • Laminate: It’s an inexpensive material made from thin plastic bonded to chipboard, plywood, or MDF. It’s easy to clean and available in many colours. Yet, it can chip and scorch. Moreover, the laminate may come unstuck if moisture seeps into the seams.
  • Corian®: It’s a durable, non-porous, and easy-to-clean man-made composite of natural materials. Furthermore, you can sand any blemishes that appear with time as the colour runs all the way through.
  • CaesarStone®: This material is 93% crushed quartz and one of nature’s hardest. It’s low-maintenance and comes in 48 colours, from wintery white and vivid green to warm red and pebble grey.
  • Other Materials: Among the best surfaces suitable for worktops are Quartz-BasedSilestone® and the new innovative Fenix®.
Image: Fenix® solid surface worktop in Nero Ingo from Worktop Express. A smart material with low light reflectivity, soft touch, anti-fingerprint and scratch resistant.
  • Glass: Worktops and splashbacks made from glass are heat, acid, and water-resistant. Additionally, they can be back-painted and coated in a wide variety of finishes, including opaque, metallic, and coloured.
  • Tiles: They’re decorative for splashbacks but aren’t ideal for worktops. That’s mainly because the grout is hard to keep clean.
Bill Davies Penny's Mill
Image: Hungerford Kitchen by Bill Davies Penny’s Mill


Whether you’re planning a new kitchen or updating an existing one, using every inch of space is vital. You can remove baseboards to create extra storage. You may also hollow out pelmets and false panels to store wine. As for banquette seating, they can double as storage as well.

That said, don’t forget about waste bins. If you can integrate both waste and recycling bins into the kitchen design, it will be a great help on rubbish collection day.

On top of that, it’s useful to have a spice drawer and a utensil drawer close to the cooker. With that in mind, consider using pull-out corner units and drawer organisers to create extra storage. If you’re looking for fantastic suppliers of these types of kitchen fittings, check out

Image: New Deco Kitchen by Martin Moore

Lastly, it’s important to try to make the most of the space at the back of deep or low-level cabinets. For that, choose to fit shelves or compartments that glide out, or consider well-constructed drawers as an alternative to cabinets.


Lighting can make all the difference in your kitchen design. The underside of wall-mounted kitchen cabinets or shelving is ideal for LED strip lighting. As for directional ceiling spotlights and wall lights, they work well in kitchens too.

One of the most important sections to illuminate is your workspace. Pendant lights positioned over kitchen or dining tables provide adequate lighting and create a focal point in the room.

Image: Highgate Kitchen by Naked Kitchens

Updating an old kitchen

If you’re on a tight budget, updating your existing kitchen can be a good alternative. You can repaint appliances to appear new (use heat-resistant paint for appliances that get hot). For indoor metal surfaces, consider Rust-Oleum Appliance Enamel Spray Paint.

When it comes to kitchen units, you can sand and paint them with a primer. Then, you may finish them using eggshell or gloss paint. For advice on paint finishes, check the manufacturer’s paint colour cards or contact your selected manufacturer for their recommendations.

For a quick uplift, Johnstone’s offers a one-coat Revive Cupboard Paint. You can transform even the cheapest kitchen doors with smart paint colours.

Other paint specialists include Zinsser for priming and sealing water-stained areas and Ronseal for its one-coat tile paint. As a creative touch, consider painting part of a wall with blackboard paint (from Ronseal) for messages and shopping lists.

Image: Shaker Kitchen by John Lewis of Hungerford

Another outstanding idea is changing cabinet handles. Doing so costs a fraction of the price of replacing a kitchen.

As an alternative, if you have inexpensive old brass handles, consider dipping them overnight in a solution of “Spirits of Salts.” They’ll turn gunmetal grey. Then, finish them with spray lacquer to create handles that look like they’ve been cast by a blacksmith.

Budget-Friendly Kitchen Design Tips

The kitchen is the most expensive room to renovate because of all the details it includes. So, the following tips should come in handy when on a budget:

  • If you’re content with the functionality and locations of your existing cabinets, consider a paint job instead of replacing them (whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, it’s still more cost-effective).
  • Think about removing a few upper cabinet doors for a stylish touch.
  • Avoid saving money on the faucet, as a quality brand is always the best choice.
  • If you place the sink in front of a window, make sure the faucet won’t get in the way.
  • Try to opt for more hard-wearing flooring than wood (such as porcelain tiles, luxury vinyl, or laminate).
Image: Olive Barr Handmade Shaker Kitchen

Other things to bear in mind

By now, you should have more organised thoughts about the whole kitchen design process. Before you start, take a look at some parting tips.

  • Detailed price specifications are essential. The cost of the work surface or handles, for example, can significantly change the budget.
  • A written agreement from the contractor detailing the scope of work, timing, and method of payment is essential.
  • Make sure the contractor, architect, or designer is aware of local building regulations before they knock down walls or install new plumbing or electrics.
  • If you have room, you might want to bring furniture from other rooms into the kitchen (such as a cosy armchair to read cookbooks or an antique armoire converted into a china cupboard or larder).
The Sebastian Cox kitchen by deVOL

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