5 Things I Learnt When I Did My Own Kitchen Design

As a Designer the pressure I felt when designing my own kitchen was enormous. With the knowledge of just how many products, materials and finishes are available it was overwhelming. I knew my design would be judged critically, particularly by myself. I wanted to get everything perfect! This is realistically not achievable as there will always be something you would change with hindsight. With any design there will usually be compromises needed, whether this be form or function. I spent many hours toiling over the various layouts I could have, I am happy with the result. The compromise in the layout was having the fridges return off the blind pantry. I simply didn't have enough room to do anything else. The styling was geared towards suiting the house and future resale. I think if it was my forever home, I would have done something very different. I used the best hardware and materials available, there was no compromise here.

So, here are some things I could have put more thought into. Luckily, I have the hindsight on these areas and won't make the same mistakes again.

1. Kitchen Sink Drawers

 I was trying to get as much accessible storage as possible under my sink, so I decided to specify a fixed panel to cover the bowls, with a large drawer below and an inner drawer inside.

Sounds great and it will be, I just didn't think it through enough.

Obviously, we have pipes and plumbing to work around. I also have a double filtration system to fit in too. I made the plumbers work really hard in this cabinet.

I didn't consider the power point placement for the Dishwasher, which had to be moved as it fowled with the drawer.

My inner drawer is too high up and fowled with the pipes despite me using a pipe tidy kit from Oliveri and will need to be moved down.

The large drawer will need to be cut down to suit 400mm deep runners. Then this cabinet will be fantastic. 

The large drawer will hold my glass, organic and soft plastic recycling and the inner drawer will be the home of my dish cloths and dishwashing tablets.

2.  Tea Towel Storage

I always consider a spot for tea towels when designing a kitchen. There is nothing worse than a new kitchen with tea towels hanging on the oven doors because they were forgotten at the concept stage of the design. (A bin on the floor is an even worse oversight!) If you have nice tea towels and this is the look you are going for, obviously that is perfectly fine.

I think a pull-out rail under the sink can do this adequately. The joinery just needs to make a special shelf to allow the towel to hang down inside the cabinet.

Because I have drawers under my sink it meant the tea towel needed another home. I made a small cabinet beside the sink and specified a pull-out tea towel rail from Lincoln Sentry in it. It is okay, but it doesn't come out far enough for my liking. I have looked through all our hardware suppliers for something better. I just don't think there is anything that works as well as I would like. 

3. Inner Drawer Heights

As I use the kitchen design principal of having the things you need stored in the spot you use them, I am a huge fan of the Blum Bottle Set in an oversized drawer. The high fronted drawer has a removable stainless-steel base 300mm wide for your oils to be stored next to the cooktop. By oversizing the width, you get a space to store your chopping boards vertically in your cooking/prep zone of the kitchen. I then like to have two inner drawers above this. I am storing the herbs and spices that I use most frequently in these drawers using the Blum Spice storage racks.

All would have been well except I forgot to measure the internal useable heights that I would need in these drawers. The joiner therefor put the inner drawers up too high for my needs. They would work perfectly if you were going to store your cooking utensils in these drawers.

Once the drawers are moved down to suit the heights that I need, I will have a fantastic cabinet storing all my cooking oils, herbs and spices in a 450mm wide cabinet. Everything pulls out and will be so easy to see and access.

4. Cutlery & Utensil Inserts

There are a plethora of cutlery and utensil inserts that can be used in kitchens. It is worth looking at what your joiner uses as their standard insert. Most joineries will have other styles and upgrades available if you ask.

Lincoln Sentry have a new dark grey system available. The dark grey appeals to me as it will hide marks from the cutlery banging against it. These new kits drop into a standard 500mm deep drawer. You can move them about until you find the perfect spot and then fix them into place with some double-sided tape.

I had allowed for quite a few inserts and dividers in my kitchen as I have a lot of cutlery and utensils.

My Cutlery inserts work well. I would advise you make sure your cutlery fits into the openings of the system you will be getting. I have seen clients with oversized cutlery run into problems here.

I am not convinced with the utensil storage I have chosen. I used a cutlery insert and a utensil insert with dividers placed in between. The cutlery insert openings are too small for most of my utensils. The spaces in between are cluttered and do not feel organised enough. I am used to having a container on the bench and being able to grab exactly what I want quickly and easily. I was going for less clutter on the bench, but the container may make a reappearance yet!

5. Pantry Design

I spent hours labouring over the design of my pantry! The joiners then spent hours labouring over its manufacture. I am not yet convinced it is perfect. Time will tell.

I had a large old-fashioned builder's style walk-in corner pantry. Nothing fancy – just fixed and battened shelving. It stored a lot of baking ingredients, canned and dried food, a few appliances and other clutter.

I designed a blind corner pantry to reduce its footprint in the new kitchen. The new pantry is 650mm deep and 1600mm wide. About 580mm of the pantry goes into the corner and is harder to access. To improve accessibility, I set the main bench at 900mm high back to 450mm deep. The two shelves above were given an L-shape and only 350mm deep. The two above that are 450mm deep and run straight through to the corner. In the gap between the main bench and the side panel I have full height adjustable shelving for tray and platter storage. I added a sensor light that comes on when the doors are opened. The doors have x4 wire baskets for extra storage and a hook rack on the backs. Giving me somewhere to hang my oven gloves and an apron.

I am in the throes of restacking the shelves and have a few doubts with the design, which only time will tell could have been better.

I wonder if I should have had the L-shaped shelves all the way up.

I am not sure I will get all my food and baking goods in. I really didn't realise how much I had. I am storing a few appliances on the main bench not to use in the pantry, but for ease of access. I do recommend putting power points on the back panel if you plan to use your pantry as an appliance cabinet.

I am still waiting for my glass splashbacks to be installed and then I start to settle into my new kitchen. No doubt I will move things about until I am happy, but overall, I am thrilled to finally have a new kitchen of my own.

Thank you, to the team at Complete Style Joinery.