Design Furniture

How should I decorate my kitchen?

Your new kitchen has just been installed and it looks lovely. However unless you have specifically requested decoration from your kitchen supplier the surrounding walls will be bare and maybe a little scruffy. You may wish to decorate yourself or seek quotes from specialist firms. Doing it yourself should save you money and prove to be very rewarding. Unlike the major works involved in kitchen fitting the potential for DIY disaster is greatly reduced. Check out DIY books and magazines for handy hints.

What will you choose, paint or wallpaper? Modern emulsion paints are very easy to apply using rollers, brushes or pads. Two coats of a good quality silk finish are recommended for durable cover. If your kitchen front is plain you can liven up the room by choosing patterned wallpaper. A light colour will make your room appear larger. Because kitchens are working rooms where moisture, grease and dust collect choose a wipe clean surface such smooth vinyl. Avoid embossed papers as they accumulate dirt, are hard to clean and easily graze.

Make sure that all wood mouldings such as doors, architraves and skirting boards are adequately painted before decorating. Ceilings too should be completed. Protect cabinets, appliances and floor coverings from paint or paste drips. You may want to unscrew wall cupboard mounted cornice to facilitate decoration. Don’t put too much paste on your paper as it can become very soggy and tear rather than cut. Let the paste soak in for the recommended time and use top quality scissors and a craft knife with a ready supply of new blades for a sharp cut. Borders hide ragged edges at the ceiling. You will be so proud of your work when you have finished.

Can I change my kitchen simply by renewing the fronts?

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There is now a host of companies that suggest you save money by simply changing your cabinet’s doors and drawer fronts rather than buying a complete new kitchen. For some this is a good idea but in many cases the appliances and cupboards are worn and they too require changing. If your kitchen layout suits you and your family, the appliances modern and reliable, cabinet carcases clean with smooth running drawers and sound hinges but you don’t like the colour of the fronts, then change them. However be aware that if you make a radical colour change the fronts may not match the edge bands and plinths of your cupboards. There is nothing worse than seeing oak doors on a white laminate carcase!

Doors and drawer fronts are normally the most expensive component of a kitchen unit and, coupled with the labour involved in fitting and adapting hinges, the price may be higher than you expect. If existing fronts look shabby then the chances are that the cupboard is tired and the worktop too needs replacing. Most serious kitchen users are better off replacing their kitchen and benefiting from a safe design tailored to their needs.

The front is functionally one of the least important parts of the cupboard. The carcase has to be strong and rigid, well sealed all round against water penetration. Drawer runners and hinges should be in tip-top condition and drawers must have a strong base and a ‘stop’ to prevent them being pulled right out, spilling their contents on your feet. Fronts simply keep dirt, pets and children out of storage areas while giving an aesthetic décor to the kitchen.

Can computers really design kitchens?

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In today’s technical age we think that a computer job is faultless. However a computer is just a tool that relies on the sense and experience of the operator. Computer aided design (CAD) for instance, can be compared with a pencil. CAD is merely a tool to help make a drawing. The type of computers kitchen showrooms use are strictly drawing instruments and do not have the intelligence to plan. They can work out the price of all components as computers are also calculators but don’t expect it to be able to position your hob at your desired height, build in a dog basket and find a shelf for those lovely heirloom scales.

Designing your kitchen to meet your needs and those of your family takes skill. In addition the kitchen can be a very dangerous place. According to RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) 40% of fatal accidents and a third of non-fatal incidents that require hospital treatment are home related, with most happening in the kitchen. This figure would reduce dramatically if safety was planned in to kitchens from the start.

Don’t be tricked by modern technology. Computer drawings are great and give you a good impression of what your kitchen will look like. So can a good hand drawing. Neither are worth anything without a skilled and professional designer behind them committed to supplying what is right for you

Where do I put things?

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A good kitchen specialist will plan adequate storage at different heights depending on the weight of items and the size and ability of the main user. For instance a tall fit person would prefer heavy frequently used things such as cast iron scales to be put away at their waist or midway level. This will avoid bending down or worse, reaching up high. To take the other extreme, someone in a wheelchair must have all storage at a much lower level. International research has proved that the ideal storage for an average height woman is as follows:


Bad kitchen planning and bad storage. These wall cabinets were set too high for the user and she certainly should not store heavy items so high.

Often used items requiring both hands should be stored at a level of between 700 and 1300mm.
Lighter objects can be put away at between 500 to 700mm or between 1300 and 1800mm.
When reaching for an object that can be held with one hand, storage should not exceed 1800mm high.
When reaching for an object while seated, storage height should not be more than 1200mm.
Rarely used items may be stowed away outside the height ranges, i.e. below 500mm or above 1800mm.

Pull out shelving, midway storage, demi cabinets and corner carousels in modern kitchens certainly help accessibility and are a true aid for less abled individuals. It is a good idea to break down storage in to four zones, preparation, sink, cooking and serving so that everything you need for particular functions is to hand. Following these guidelines will make an incredible difference to your kitchen efficiency while reducing fatigue and accident risk.


Cute - but not hygienic, even if you have a dish washer. A good kitchen designer can accommodate pets without compromising hygiene

Designing for disability.

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Nowadays kitchens can be designed to give less abled users accessibility without additional expense. It is simply down to the experience and ingenuity of the planner. Good kitchen specialists normally deal with a manufacturer that has a large range of cabinet sizes of a quality that allows them to be adapted without risk. Similarly there are appliances that are admirably suited to wheelchair users.

Layouts should allow enough space for a wheelchair to turn. Matt rather than shiny surfaces, bright contrasting handles, plugs and sockets, spotlighting on the work surfaces and textured dial controls help the visually impaired. It is as easy to set sockets in to worktops or cupboard plinths as midway on the wall. Set them for safe, easy accessibility. Worktop height may need to be lowered, with strategic gaps underneath so that seated users may work in comfort close to the surface. Similarly wall cabinets should be hung at an appropriate height and floor units may be mobile on casters or incorporate steel ‘pull outs.’

Ovens and hobs should be split level to make sure that they are both set at a suitable height. For safety, use an induction hob. It only produces heat when in contact with a steel or iron pan. Fridges and dishwashers are available as pull outs and control knobs can be made ‘readable’ with raised epoxy tactile dots. Leave space under sinks for wheelchairs. The best sinks to use are wide and shallow with insulated bowls to prevent hot knees! Lever taps placed near the front clearly marked hot and cold are a real help too. Some of these ideas may help your existing kitchen. If you are considering a new one, you have the right to expect a design appropriate to your specific needs, regardless of ability level.

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