The kitchen is the busiest room in any home. You’ve heard that, and have surely experienced it in your own home. No longer utilitarian and small, it has become the hub of the home. But the question is “how to design a kitchen which looks great and is fully functional for your family’s needs?”.
Real Homes blogger Laurie Crombie says, “Kitchens used to be hidden-away work spaces, but today they’re rooms in which we spend huge amounts of time. [They are] not only preparation and cooking facilities that suit all the home’s occupants, but they must also be stylish space we want to enjoy being in.”
With the central place this room holds, most homeowners want to “get the kitchen right.” This guide will help you do just that. Don’t forget to check out our other planning guides, including how to plan a conservatory.
Here’s what you’ll find in Our Guide on How to Plan a Kitchen
- What Personality Should Your Kitchen Have?
- Kitchen Costs and Your Budget
- Cost Factors and Effect On Kitchen Remodel Cost
- Comparison Table: How Much Does a New Kitchen Cost?
- Allocating the Budget
- Kitchen Cost to Value
- Use a Planning Guide
- Look at Kitchens – Where to Look
- Kitchen Layout: The Work Triangle vs Work Zones
- Hiring a Kitchen Contractor
- Kitchen Remodel Timeline
Your answer to this question will guide you as you plan and design your kitchen. It’s important to personalise it for your purposes.
Every kitchen should be designed to accomplish the basics: prepping and cooking food, cleaning up and storing your cooking and baking items.
But what “personality” do you want your kitchen to have beyond the bare-minimum?
Here are common answers, and there are a lot of hybrid kitchens too.
The Family Hangout
Do your children or grandchildren play or do homework in the kitchen as you prep, cook and clean up? Maybe they join in food preparation?
Does the family “hang out” after a meal or over a late-night snack to chat about the day?
“The kitchen is the heart of the home,” is another adage.
If this is your style, the kitchen will benefit from some of these features:
- Ample room with a combined casual dining area
- Comfortable seating at a dining table
- A breakfast bar or peninsula that is large enough for books and laptops – and one that has good lighting
- An island, perhaps with a hob where someone can prepare or cook food without turning their back on others
These features are in addition to what’s needed for cooking and storage.
Have you heard the saying, “no matter where I serve my guests, it seems they like the kitchen best”?
This kitchen is set up for company – dinner parties, holiday gatherings and impromptu drop-ins. Keys to it success are features like a:
- Wine cooler stocked with a range of beverages, wine, beer and beyond
- Warming drawer that enable you to stage dinner courses and deliver larger quantities than you could with just an oven
- A second oven – indispensable for entertaining large groups or preparing multi-course meals
- Microwave for quick heat-ups of tasty treats when neighbors and friends drop in
- Sound speakers for background music
The Serious Cook
Cooking can be serious fun. This kitchen is set up for efficiency and all your most useful tools close at hand. A kitchen built for the gourmet includes:
- A prep sink in addition to the main sink
- Large worktop space for activities like cutting or prepping a long list of ingredients, rolling dough and multi-tasking
- Storage or racks to keep pots and pans of various types and sizes at the ready
- A pantry for storage of food and small appliances
- A second oven and/or hob
- A double fridge or second fridge or freezer nearby
This kitchen is picture-perfect, even trendy, with a huge wow-factor. The Showroom kitchen is one of the most popular. It can be customized to how you’ll use it, but be prepared to pay more for the renovation.
What fits here:
- The current most popular materials, and there is a wide enough range that you won’t feel like you’re installing a copy-cat kitchen
- High-end appliances
- Little clutter – let the premium, beautiful cabinetry and worktops do the talking
- All the details carefully chosen, like worktops, cabinets, appliances, flooring and window coverings.
You might really benefit from hiring a kitchen designer to plan your magazine-worthy kitchen.
It’s important for most homeowners to consider how much they want to spend and let that budget guide their selection of kitchen components. There will be temptations left and right to overspend the budget, so set it and stick to it.
The average budget for a kitchen is 10% to 15% of your home’s value. High-end kitchens might push the budget to 20% or higher, but realize that you lose value the higher the percentage. It is difficult to recoup the expense at resale the more you spend on the kitchen.
There’s more on cost to value in a minute.
Basic kitchen remodel: £6,000-£15,000 with £10,500 average: Laminate or ceramic tile worktops, stock or painted cabinets, vinyl sheet or affordable laminate flooring, affordable sink, faucet, island, etc.
Better kitchen remodel: £16,000-£30,000 with £26,000 average: Better ceramic tile, solid surface or affordable stone worktop and backsplash, semi-custom cabinets, LVP/LVT, better-grade laminate or affordable hardwood flooring, mid-grade sink, faucet, island, etc.
Best kitchen remodel: £31,000-£50,000 or more with £42,000 the national average: Quartz, granite and other premium worktops and backsplash, custom cabinets, stone or hardwood flooring, premium sink and faucet, full-featured island with a sink and seating.
This table gives an approximate cost of a new kitchen based on key cost factors which include:
- Size of the kitchen
- Whether plumbing and electrical work is done and its extent
- Changing the footprint of the cabinets or leaving them the same
- Removing an old kitchen (all jobs except new builds)
- Quality/cost of the cabinetry, worktops, flooring, appliances, lighting, etc., used
|Kitchen Size||Small to Average||Average to Large||Average to Very Large|
|Change Layout||No||Yes or No||Yes or No|
|Change Cabinets Footprint||No||Yes or No||Usually Yes|
|Plumbing/Electrics Changes||No||Yes or No||Yes|
|Remove Old Kitchen||Yes or No||Yes or No||Yes|
|Quality||Basic||Basic to Better||Better to Best|
Ellen Rady of Ellen Rady Designs says to, “Think about how you use the kitchen, and put your money there.”
That’s a good starting point.
The Family Hangout kitchen needs plenty of storage. Premium appliances makes sense in the Serious Cook kitchen. The Showroom kitchen should have very fine worktops.
Kitchen contractors are expert at working with clients to stay within their budget and still offer an appealing range of choices for every component of a kitchen remodel.
Pro Tip: Have a Plan B. As you narrow your choices for kitchen materials and appliances, develop Plan A of your favorites. But sometimes unexpected costs arise once the project starts – rotted floor joists or outdated electrical wiring that needs to be replaced are common examples. This will push costs higher, and you might have to go to Plan B on some of your items.
Where can you save to adjust? Flooring and appliances are good options since there are affordable, quality Mid-range/Plan B choices. When your budget allows in the years to come, you can upgrade your Plan B choices.
This concept is similar to return on investment.
It is used in the residential building industry and is based on thousands of home projects and how they affect a home’s resale value.
- Cost – The cost of the project
- Value – How much it raises your home’s potential market value
- Cost to Value Ratio – The Value divided by Cost
Example: Let’s say you spend £8,000 on a new roof, and it raises your home’s potential value by £5,200. That’s a typical scenario. Doing the math, the Cost to Value is 65%.
The most recent data (2019) shows the bang you’ll get for your buck on a kitchen remodel.
- Basic kitchen remodel (less than 10% of home value) has a cost to value return of 81%.
- Mid-range kitchen remodel (10%-15% of home value) has a cost to value return of 62%.
- High-end kitchen remodel (20%-plus of home value) has a cost to value return of 60%.
A kitchen planning guide is a questionnaire, or sometimes a series of them, that walk you through every aspect of kitchen design and planning. They vary in usefulness, and we’ve listed two of the best below. Some of the large DIY companies, including Wikes and B and Q also provide reasonably good kitchen planners but do focus on their own respective products.
Most explore these important issues:
- How will you use your kitchen (Kitchen personality)?
- Family demographics – Size, ages
- Cooking habits – How heavily you use the kitchen
- Your kitchen remodeling budget
- What you like and don’t like about your current kitchen
Goals – What Are your Remodeling Priorities?
- Enlarge the kitchen
- Add or enlarge an island
- Make space for a table and chairs or a booth
- Get more counter space or cabinet storage
- Add a walk-in pantry
- Modernize with current materials, colors and/or technology
- Improve water and energy efficiency
- Colors you like
- Favourite worktop, flooring and cabinet materials, appliances and more
- Architectural or design scheme you prefer (traditional, contemporary, country, Asian, Old World, rustic, modern, European, etc.)
- Large and small appliances you want space for
- Favourite features beyond those found in most kitchens like a pantry, recycle center, trash compactor, wine rack/wine cooler or cookbook rack (there are a near-infinite number of features!)
Entertaining and Dining:
- Should the kitchen have an eating area? For how many people?
- How frequently do you have guests for meals?
- Do you want a worktop or breakfast bar for eating?
- Do you cook whilst guests are gathered in the kitchen?
- Do you want the same kitchen layout – cabinet footprint and appliance location – or do you want to change it?
- Are there enough electric outlets?
- Is lighting sufficient?
- Would an home extension better accommodate the kitchen you want?
Here is a short list of links to the best and most comprehensive Kitchen Planning Guides online.
Ultimately, the more you look at as examples of what you may want, the better as you’ll be surprised about what you didn’t think about!
The process will allow you to fine-tune your vision of the personality, style, layout, colors, materials, lighting and appliances that will come together to be your ideal kitchen.
Pro tip: Look at kitchens through the lens of the kitchen personality you want. This means asking, for example, “Does this kitchen layout fit The Entertainer style?” rather than asking “Do I like this kitchen?”
The best places to see kitchens in person are:
- Kitchen showrooms
- Real estate open houses
The best places to see kitchen pictures are:
- Search engine images – Search “traditional kitchen” or “modern kitchen” for example, and select Images rather than Web to get nothing but pictures without having to wait for individual websites to load
Once you have a general idea of your preferred kitchen style, you can take the same approach to selecting the specifics. Search “quartz worktops” or “contemporary kitchen worktops” for example, and choose Images.
The kitchen was once seen as the private domain of the homemaker. The space was often walled off and had just an entry door. A popular poem of the time reflected this reality. It ended with:
“Tell you what:
You stay out of my kitchen
With its sodden, hot, lackluster lures-
When you`re here, stay out of my kitchen
And I promise to stay out of yours!”
Kitchens are anything but “lackluster” today! And open floorplans have completely changed the concept.
Back then, though, kitchen design reflected this common view. Since the 1940s, designers planned kitchens by creating a Work Triangle connecting the range, refrigerator and sink. Each side of the triangle was between 4 and 9 feet, with all sides adding up to between 13 and 26 feet. The space was tight and efficient. It made sense in fairly small, utilitarian kitchens that were the norm.
The Work Triangle is still a useful idea, but designers are also thinking about Work Zones.
Each zone is planned with features that are both useful and stylish, melding form and function.
Kohler lists and describes work zones:
- Consumables zone: Storage for food.
- Non-consumables zone: The place for storing everyday dishes, including plates, bowls, glasses, and cutlery.
- Cleaning zone: The main sink and possibly a dishwasher.
- Preparation zone: Where most of your kitchen prep happens. This may be a stretch of countertop, a butchers’ block or a kitchen island with perhaps a secondary sink.
- Cooking zone: The hob, oven, or range, and possibly a microwave.
An experienced kitchen contractor will offer these benefits:
- Kitchen planning and design services
- Assistance with choosing materials, appliances, furnishings to optimise your enjoyment of the kitchen within the budget you have set
- Knowledge of when permissions are necessary and obtaining them
- Coordinating the various tradespeople (electrics, plumbing, kitchen fitters, etc.) to keep the work moving ahead every day without them getting in one another’s way
We recommend asking quotes from several kitchen contractors. Compare “apples to apples,” meaning components of the same brand, or at least comparable in quality, to determine which quote offers the best value.
Make sure that the installers are experienced too, because the expertise of the crew will determine whether your kitchen looks and performs as it should.
Many homeowners begin planning their kitchen six months to a year ahead of the remodeling crew showing up to begin the work. This is strongly advised, when possible. These are important and expensive decisions you’ll be making, and you don’t want them to be rushed.
Here is a common timeline:
Personal research time: At your pace, of course, but many homeowners start up to a year in advance. This gives you time to learn about kitchen style, materials, appliances, etc. The more particular you are, the more time you should take.
Getting quotes from several contractors: 4-6 months before starting. This allows time to learn about the contractor’s experience, consult the contractor’s kitchen designer, consider various plans and finally settle on the kitchen design and components you prefer.
Hiring a contractor: This should be done 3-4 months before the start date. Sign the contract and provide a down-payment of 15% to 25%.
Ordering cabinetry: 2-4 months before the work begins. If you buy pre-built cabinets, then about a month or less is needed to receive them. Bespoke cabinetry should be ordered at least 2 months in advance. Some manufacturers need longer than that to complete them.
Ordering flooring, appliances, lighting, worktops, sink and faucet: 1-3 months in advance of the work start.
Once the work begins, it should flow something like this:
1-4 Days: Strip out the old kitchen
Up to 14 Days: Complete alterations to electrics and plumbing, if necessary
3-6 weeks, possibly longer if there are delays: Install the new kitchen
Frequently Asked Questions when Planning a Kitchen?