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7 steps to planning your dream kitchen

Posted on by Kirsty Fletcher • 4 comments
Reading Time: 10 minutes

Planning your dream kitchen is super exciting but getting it right can be quite a stressful and overwhelming process.

With the average new kitchen costing in the region of £8000 and that’s before you’ve even factored in any electrical appliances, it’s usually the most expensive room in your house to renovate.

Having planned and renovated my own kitchen here @greenbank_interiors I have put together the following guide, along with the help of some of my Instagram followers, to help ease the stress of planning your new kitchen.

If you follow me on Instagram you may know that I regularly host “Kitchen Inspiration Weeks” (#kitcheninspoweek) where I post some of my favourite Kitchens found on Instagram. As part of those Inspo weeks I ask the creators to tell us a bit about their kitchen renovations and ask them for their top tips for anyone planning a kitchen renovation.

So where do you start?

1. Set your budget
I’ll say that again! Set your budget! This is the most important step before you do anything. It will save you a lot of disappointment further down the line as you will know instantly if a style of kitchen or that clever appliance, is unachievable.

Knowing your budget will also give you a clear indication of whether you are able to totally renovate your whole kitchen or whether you should be looking a few clever tweaks to transform an existing kitchen that’s a blog for another day I think!

2. Research, Research, Research!
Next it’s time to do lots of research! I don’t think you can do too much! It’s also the really fun bit!

There are plenty of places to find inspiration online but I would suggest (if you haven’t already) by starting with Pinterest and Instagram. Searching for relevant hashtags in Instagram and keywords on Pinterest. You can also contact the owners of the kitchens on Instagram to ask them any questions you may have. Don’t be afraid to drop them a Direct Message. I know I am always thrilled to help people with any questions related to my kitchen.

Saving photos of the kitchens you like in Instagram or to your Pinterest Boards will really help when you meet with Kitchen Designers as you’ll easily be able to show them what you’re looking for.

Emily over @acorn_cottage used Pinterest in the same way. “Screenshot and collate as much inspiration/ideas as possible before going through the whole process! Pinterest played a huge part as I was able to cherry pick different elements from different kitchens to create the vibe and feel I wanted.”

Erin @erinalice_ used Instagram to help with her planning “Instagram was the perfect source of inspiration and gave me the opportunity to ask people who have done their kitchen already for their advice, I gained so much support and advice from other accounts on Instagram.”

3. Showrooms & Kitchen Suppliers
Next it’s time to visit lots of kitchen showrooms. Not only will you find mounds of inspiration in the showrooms, you will also learn from the kitchen designer’s expertise and perhaps even realise that your original plan or layout may not be the most efficient use of space. Experienced kitchen designers know all the tricks for optimising the space available.

Jill over @jmo_loves says “Go to a couple of different kitchen companies & use their expertise. We were originally going to have our island facing the Hob, but looking out onto the garden (as suggested by a kitchen designer we met) works so much better now.”

Amanda @theoldforgecottage “Go and see lots of kitchen showrooms in different price ranges to compare and pinch ideas! We had a budget and stuck to it by doing a lot of research on appliances and worktops to see where we could source what we wanted for less. We also went for slightly cheaper units so we could splurge on appliances and worktops. A kitchen is a big expense and one that you will have for a long time.”

If, like me, you have a very bespoke idea in mind and can’t find what you are looking for in the high street stores perhaps consider a smaller more local kitchen designer. My kitchen was designed by a local business specialising in bespoke handmade kitchens with a long history in the wood working profession. Oliver, my Kitchen Designer, worked with me to create the wonderful kitchen I have today. A good kitchen designer isn’t afraid to challenge your ideas should they believe they have a better solution. They, after all, are the experts so trust their judgement!

Finding a local joiner is another option if you are looking for something bespoke, as they offer far more flexibility. Often the major high street stores only produce units in standard sizes. A local joiner can make your units/islands to any size. Bespoke joinery will typically be a bit more expensive though so make sure your budget allows for it before going down that road.

Abbi over @projectno10 explains “We had a local joiner make the kitchen. I went to lots of different places for quotes originally but they all said I couldn’t have an island. The local joiner made the cupboards a little smaller in width (you’d never know) so I could have an island and also the larder cleverly hides a pillar!”

Finding a kitchen supplier you trust is also very important.

Helen @the_stone_bungalow “My top tips would be to use a good kitchen designer that’s ideally been recommended by someone you know.”

4. Planning the Layout
It might seem obvious but the layout is by far the most important part to get right when planning your new kitchen.

As with planning a new bathroom, don’t change the layout of your kitchen for change sake! If it works, stick with it.

If, on the other hand, your existing layout isn’t working for you or you are planning a kitchen extension then the first thing to do is make a list of what you do and don’t like about your existing or previous kitchens.

“Think about all the things you liked/disliked about any old kitchens you’ve had. In my last kitchen I didn’t have enough work space so I made sure my current kitchen had plenty” Emily @bathtubs_and_buttercups

Then list what you already have and what other features you’d ideally like the new space to include. Some of those items could be an island, dishwasher, range cooker, bi-fold doors, American style fridge, pet feeding area etc.

Prioritise your wish list

Next put everything on your list in order of priority. It’s likely that you won’t be able to incorporate every single item on your wish list so having them prioritised will help with the decision making further down the line.

Spend time working out how you will use your kitchen

“Think about all the things that will need to be housed before you set about designing. Then you can designate the right amount of pan drawers, pull outs, cupboards etc for what you need. Everyone has different uses in a kitchen, some love baking so therefore may need a whole baking area (I do!) whereas for others a roast dinner may be the Holy Grail so they will need lots of pan drawers. Plan and overthink to the last T.” A great tip from Fenella over @fenellajanedesign

Jade over @jade.lisa.home has a very similar tip “Spend time working out exactly how you will use your kitchen, from planning how many drawers and units you will need for every item you own, to how you cook and entertain to make sure the layout and space works for you. For example, I wanted lots of pan drawers to make plates and pots easily accessible, and I also wanted the island to have a seating area so I could chat to people whilst preparing food.”

Mark out the layout
“Mark your new kitchen layout out on the floor with masking tape before you order it! You can get a feel for the space. If you have an island measure out the doors once they’re open to make sure you can still easily get around.” I love this tip from Hannah @hannahgray_athome I will most definitely be doing this next time round!

“Always incorporate as much storage as you can. You can never really have enough.” Charlotte @thriftedabode

I couldn’t agree with Charlotte more! My kitchen doubled in size and I still don’t have enough storage space!

The key is not to rush the planning stage.

“Take as much time as you can when planning the layout of your dream kitchen so that you’re not pressured to make quick decisions or compromises. I personally found even with a larger space I couldn’t have everything on my original wish list so definitely worth hashing out what your priorities are in advance.” Danni over @hales_house_home.interiors

Nat over @laid_back_farmhouse “Don’t be in a hurry – get it absolutely right. There are things I’d change now, so I wish I took more time at planning stages.”

5. Fixtures and Fittings
Really think about the material you’d like your worktops to be made of. Don’t rush into this decision and also don’t be put off certain materials until you have properly reserached them. Everyone, and I mean everyone, tried to put me off having wooden worktops but my Kitchen Designer had the perfect solution. A hard wax oil called Fiddes Hard Wax Oil. My worktops still look at good as they did when they were installed 3 years ago!

Another great top from my followers is to shop around for your worktops. Sourcing your own worktops can save you hundreds of pounds. Several of my followers have done this and saved a fortune.

“Source your own worktops – it saved us thousands.” explains Jill over @jillylizzyinteriors

Plug Sockets
Once you have a layout of the kitchen you can plan where you’ll need plug sockets and how many. In my opinion, you can never have enough. We spent a little more getting plug sockets fitted in the island. The best decision we ever made. We use them all the time!

“Think about plug sockets – we wish we had added more (in the island).” explains Jill over @jillylizzyinteriors

The lighting in your kitchen may be one of the last things you think about but it is key. Poor light will only frustrate you further down the line.

  • Natural Light
  • If you are extending a kitchen be sure to factor in as much natural light as possible. This can be achieved using skylights or even sky lanterns.

  • Ceiling and under Unit lights
  • “Definitely think about lighting and placement. You can never have enough lighting in the kitchen.” Claire @everchanginghouse

  • My top lighting tips:
  • Keep your work surfaces as clear as possible (especially if you don’t have space for an island) by avoiding the use of table lamps. They do look pretty but they aren’t at the right height and the light given off will just create shadows rather than lighting the work surface. Lights under your wall units are an inexpensive way to light your kitchen. They don’t have to be pretty either as you won’t be able to see them!

    A single or row of pendants lights above an island looks fantastic as well as help to create a natural divide between your kitchen and dining area.

“Try and include an island if you have the space. We literally use our island for everything. It’s so handy and gives so much more worktop space as well as giving the extra seating at the breakfast bar!” Lauren over @our_self_build_ni

“If you want to have a sociable kitchen, an island is a great idea so people can sit with you while you are preparing meals etc.” Lucy @hollytreelucy

Islands can take up a lot of space and you should have at least a metre gap all the way around an island (Kirstie Allsops words on Love it or List it recently!) so really make sure you have the space for one before getting too excited!

Unless you have a huge aga you will need to factor in radiators and possibly under floor heating if your budget allows. Think about where radiators will go in relation to any other furniture you plan to have in the room. Vertical column radiators are a great space saving option.

Shop around
It’s amazing how much money you can save on fixtures and fittings when you shop around. I found our Belfast sink and tap brand new on ebay and bought our range cooker in the sales in January.
Lots of my followers have saved small fortunes by shopping around…

Vicci over @our_parkside_home says “Once you have decided on a kitchen, shop around for all the other elements, like the worktops, appliances, sink, tap and even the cupboard handles. We found that that you can save a small fortune by doing so.”

“By sourcing our windows, roof lantern & bi-fold doors separately it saved us a fortune.” explains Jill over @jmo_loves

6. Making the final decisions
It’s crunch time! Time to make the final decisions.

This is a great tip from Daisy over @daisysworld_ “Always get a sample of your worktop, cupboard door and flooring to put next to each other to make sure it works.”

Another great tip from on one of my followers is…
“Don’t decide on your wall colours until the units are in place.” Lynn over @bellwayhometorhead

I couldn’t agree with this tip more! Having painted our entire kitchen with 2 coats of the wrong colour (with 2 coats of white wash under it!) before the kitchen was fitted we soon realised it was totally the wrong colour and ended up having to paint it 2 more times with the correct colour!

“Get swatches for colour matching – don’t rely on brochures or paint charts get samples of everything – it’s a big investment so invest time in this bit and you won’t disappointed.” Amanda over @homeattheheart

7. Fitting
Now it’s time to arrange the fitting of your new kitchen. It’s all starting to get very exciting now!

If you are super handy and fitting it yourself then I salute you!

If however, like my household, you are not at all handy then you’ll be calling in the professionals.

Please, please, please choose very carefully. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across shoddy kitchen fitters who are either terrible at finishing the job off properly or those that have way too many jobs on at the same time and therefore end up taking longer than quoted, leaving you with no kitchen for weeks. There are only so many times you can wash the pots and pans in the bath!

Hollie over @homebird15 has experienced this and so her top tip is…
“Pick your kitchen company/fitters wisely. Ensure they have a good reputation and ask to see a variety of photos of work they have done. Seek reviews and even visit a kitchen they have fitted. I know this goes without saying really but we have made a few mistakes along the way and have paid for it later.”

“We renovated our kitchen along with the dining area and snug so had to make lots of decisions to make all at once. My top tip would be to make sure you get a scheduled timeline of when things will be happening from your builder, so you don’t feel rushed to make decisions unexpectedly. After all every decision feels like a massive one when you’re planning a new kitchen and you want it to be just right!” A great tip to end on there. Thank you Laura from @_homebirds_ /

If you’re planning a new kitchen then I hope these tips help to guide you along the process of creating your dream kitchen.

A huge thank you to all of my followers who have shared their tips and advice and if you think we have missed anything then please do leave a comment.

Happy Kitchen Planning!


4 Responses

  1. susan says:

    Found this really useful as just embarking on an extension and new kitchen.

  2. Rachel says:

    Hi.. I have all this info very useful.. Thankyou! Please could you tell me your kitchen down light s from as it would be perfect over my dining table. I am after some matching ceiling spot lights on a bat( not explaining correct) I have a kitchen diner & would like my lighting to match. Any other suggestions would be gratefully received. Thanks have a great Sunday😊

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