How to create your dream kitchen

Neptune’s Suffolk kitchen, from £9,000, is based on an East Anglian tradition of furniture-making an

Neptunes Suffolk kitchen, from £9,000, is based on an East Anglian tradition of furniture-making and its characteristics include generous proportions, carved oak shelves and ample base cabinet units. PA Photo/Handout - Credit: Archant

There’s no doubt kitchens are the centre of our homes, but although they’re the area we choose to spend the most time, either eating or socialising, it seems all too few of us have our ‘dream’ space

Around 65 per cent of Brits feel their current kitchen is far from ideal – with its inadequacies most exposed during the pressure-cooker stress of Christmas – and around a quarter struggle with a cramped or awkward shaped room, while 25 per cent bemoan a lack of work surfaces, according recent research by Wickes.

Aside from the benefits of enjoying this space more – and potentially being able to cook up a storm – it could be worth reconsidering a refit on financial grounds alone, as it’s the most popular way to add value to a property, estimated by experts at around 15 per cent.

“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to choose a kitchen,” says Daniele Brutto of Hub Kitchens, specialists in Italian-inspired design. “ There are so many materials, colours and finishes in the market at the moment, but what’s important is focusing on what will work for you and your space. Pick something you like, which could be a particular wall colour, a floor tile or work surface texture and work outwards from there. Keeping one element at the heart of your design will make the whole process much more straightforward.”

Take comfort from the fact that size isn’t everything, according to Brutto, who says small spaces can still look stylish if a scheme is kept simple and every inch of space is exploited. “Custom-made cabinets can conceal day-to-day appliances when they’re not in use, while it’s also possible to maximise preparation areas by using worktops which cover sinks or extend.

“It’s all about marrying imagination with innovative design and creating a calm, relaxed environment, where it’s a pleasure to work and play.”

See what’s on the menu for kitchens this year, and choose your own individual style recipe...

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Modern menu

Shades of grey or cool blue will give a kitchen an ultra-modern look and can be enlivened with either a colourful splashback, or add a warming glow with copper metallic accessories.

“The general trend still continues for the kitchen to literally be the heart of the home, and grey is still a massive colour trend, whether it’s used for unit fronts or even grey grouting in between tiles,” says Wickes design consultant, Simon Burton.

“A kitchen has to be a practical, user-friendly space, but is also regarded as an area to socialise, so open-plan designs, incorporating a kitchen and dining/living area, are still a top choice. One great way to enhance a social feel is to have built-in music speakers.”

Walk in the woods

Natural materials rule in decor, and showcasing rich wood grain and stunning stone worktops - marble through to slate - brings personality and ultimate luxury to a room.

“The real trend at the moment for finishes is subtle, textural differences to give real depth, which will break up the monotone nature of surfaces. We’re going to see more use of natural exotic stones such as marble, slate and granite,” says Brutto.

“We’ll see an even greater emphasis on the use of natural timbers, and there are some amazing timber veneers coming onto the market, which give cabinetry a rich, warm feel. The trend for mixing and matching veneers with harsher surrounds, such as concrete, steel and iron, will also feature strongly this year.”

A perfect balance

Mixing modern and old-style materials, and using accents of black and charcoal to add definition, achieves a chic look which suits a country ‘kick off your wellies’ setting, just as much as an edgy industrial-style urban loft.

“We believe a successful kitchen should feel like an organic part of a home, not a bolt-on or trend-conscious space. Instead, it should be a zone in harmony with our style and taste, and designed to totally suit our lifestyle. Contrast in colour or texture is particularly effective, for instance, rough brick set against a plaster wall, or a tiled effect below an open raftered ceiling,” says John Sims-Hilditch, managing director at Neptune.

“This timeless look has enduring appeal, never goes out of fashion and looks better as it ages. Breaking up a run of wall cupboards with open shelving or glass-fronted upper cabinets is a useful design option, creating fluidity and an impression of more space.”

Door and drawer fronts will make or break a room. The three main factors to consider are style, colour and handles – but don’t overlook practicality in your desire for a particular look. For instance, for high wall cupboards, mechanical flip-up doors might be more suitable and larger handles are easier to grasp. And bear in mind that high-gloss finishes may show marks and fingerprints, plus matt finishes are a trend-savvy choice this year.