The beginning of any project can be a daunting task whether it’s a new kitchen or full scale home renovation. Knowing where to begin and what to have in mind is essential for our clients at HM so to help you plan your project, Peter Humphrey (Design Director & Founder of HM) and Louisa Eggleston (Creative Director) have answered some of the most frequently asked questions along with top tips to help you on your way this year.
When planning a kitchen from scratch, where do you start?
Always start with the question “how does this kitchen need to work?” and be completely honest with yourself about how you live. If it’s an open plan kitchen / dining area but you know you hate clearing away after meals, you can perhaps add a second dishwasher or keep the main sink / scullery area out of the way. Kitchens these days are really living rooms and they have multiple purposes throughout the day and late into the evening, so bear this in mind when you’re considering how you will use the space.
Also, be open to modifying existing spaces to create a new much more workable space. Even if it means moving a door or two – or even knocking down existing walls. It sounds expensive and messy to start with, but it could be for the best. For example, this project in Kent required a ‘back to the drawing board’ approach. Reconfiguring a series of rooms and incorporating an orangery style extension provided the starting point for Peter Humphrey, Design Director and Founder of Humphrey Munson, who radically reimagined the single large room into a kitchen, scullery, utility and walk in pantry. At the initial design meeting, the homeowners’ expectations of what was possible went out the window as they were guided through this new design concept: “the radical change that Peter made to the layout of the kitchen has completely transformed it. Everything else about the project is great – the overall design, the quality of the cabinets and finish etc, but it is the change to the layout that has given us a kitchen well beyond anything we could have expected when we first visited the showroom.”
What are some of the practical things to keep in mind when planning the layout of a new kitchen?
A well zoned kitchen is one that will work well, so ensure there is space for food prep, cooking, serving, dining, clearing away and all the other things that go on in kitchens these days – a spot to sit and have a cup of coffee, children doing homework, friends gathering for pre-dinner drinks – all these things have to be taken into account. The flow of the room will feel natural and cohesive if you keep in mind the scale and proportion of the room and don’t overload the space with cabinetry.
Open plan kitchen extensions are hugely popular among homeowners who are looking to transform their home. Why do you think kitchens work so well in orangeries and garden rooms?
Creating more light and space are usually the driving forces behind a renovation and installing an orangery/garden room is absolutely the best way to ensure both. An open plan area that includes a kitchen, dining area, and soft seating area is the space that a family will inevitably inhabit the majority of the time. While there may be more formal drawing rooms or dining rooms in a home, these tend to be used when guests are over so the everyday life of the family home absolutely revolves around the open plan space. We hear clients say “we just live in here now” so many times – because it has everything they need and gives them space to be able to prep food, cook, eat, watch TV, do homework, play games etc. without getting in each other’s way.
With a bespoke kitchen, it is natural to become overwhelmed by choice. How do clients find the right style for them?
Start with the age and heritage of the house itself and the overall vision for the design – if you’re doing an extension in a Victorian detached family home but want it to feel more contemporary than traditional, choose cabinetry that has simple, clean lines and unfussy hardware.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to introduce colour on cabinets?
Colour on handmade timber kitchens should be embraced as these are the ultimate recyclable kitchens that can easily be updated in 10 years’ time, so be brave with colour as essentially you can always change it later down the road.
Which colours are trending right now and which colours never date and why?
We always say to avoid trends like the plague! A kitchen design is something that needs to stand the test of time, so anything that is ‘on-trend’ when it’s installed will quickly become out of trend as the years pass by. At Humphrey Munson we just choose what we love and we advise our clients to do the same – there are no set rules to choosing colours for kitchens. If you choose what you love and stick to your chosen aesthetic for the space, you can’t go wrong.
What colours work best in a large kitchen and why?
Darker colours create instant mood and work well even in small spaces when they are balanced with other brighter elements such as the worktops and splashbacks. People say grey is out, but used in the right way you can create a beautiful room design using the right shade, so don’t get caught up on what’s in and what’s out; the only thing that matters is your vision for the space.
Sometimes, two door shades are better than one. What are your top tips to combining colours?
We love to use two to three colours in a kitchen design for the wall colour, perimeter cabinetry and island cabinetry. Using a darker colour on the island anchors it within the room and gives it real presence within the space – generally speaking, the bigger the contrast in colour, the bigger the wow factor when you walk in.
Worktops need to be tough, practical and stylish. What should readers bear in mind before investing in a worktop?
We always recommend choosing quartz worktops. CRL and Caesarstone are particularly good as their Quartz is tough and easy to clean which makes this worktop a practical choice for hardworking kitchens and a great alternative to marble, which is far more porous and stains easily – not great if you have small children or like to entertain. That said, if you love marble and accept that it will be marked and stain over time there’s no reason to avoid it.
What should be taken into consideration when choosing kitchen flooring?
For busy, hardworking family kitchens with pets and children we would recommend hardwearing, durable flooring like limestone. As a natural stone, limestone always gives you a unique finish and is so low maintenance, providing it is sealed properly (top tip: keep sealing until the stone stops accepting it). Porcelain is another great choice due to the fact that it’s durable, easy to maintain and creates a super sleep, uniform look – perfect for contemporary spaces.
At what point in the planning process should readers consider lighting? What are your golden rules to lighting a kitchen?
Lighting is absolutely key to any kitchen design and should be looked at right from the start. Once the kitchen layout is agreed, you can use the plan drawing to work on the lighting design. We always take care of lighting within the cabinetry and advise clients to use a layered lighting system for the different areas / uses of the kitchen, so you can easily change the mood of the space. No one wants to sit down to a relaxed dinner party when the kitchen is lit up like an operating theatre!
Three top tips to introducing smart tech to the kitchen?
For busy families who have multiple phones, ipads and consoles, a charging drawer is a must to integrate into the kitchen.
For busy lifestyles, appliances with home connectivity are becoming increasingly popular. Miele appliances are particularly good for this as you can control certain elements of appliances straight from your phone, their new food view means live images are sent direct to your phone so you can see how your food is cooking.
Sous vide drawers have become really popular additions to kitchen designs thanks to their multi-faceted functionality. Cooking results are perfect every time, food can be easily and quickly marinated which is great for those short on time, but also vacuum sealed food lasts around 3 times longer so waste is reduced and time efficiency increased.
And finally, which finishing touches are often overlooked and shouldn’t be?
It’s boring but essential – plug sockets! If you’re thinking of specifying countertop cupboards always make a list of the appliances you want to use so you’ve got enough electric points. For islands, you can specify electric sockets with either the same hardware finish (above is the polished brass electric socket by Forbes & Lomax) or a painted facia that matches your paint colour so they blend in perfectly.
Images: Paul Craig