10 Design Tips For Kitchens, According to Expert Renovators

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By Michele Koh Morollo
From design concept to installation, these 10 tips will guide you through your next kitchen remodel.

When it comes to the heart of the home, there's no question Australia–based Blue Tea Kitchens holds the key to creating your ideal space. Awarded Kitchen Designer of the Year in 2017, the team of design and renovation specialists guides clients through every step of their revamp, ensuring happiness, satisfaction, and endless inspiration. Below, they share their top 10 useful tips that can assist with any kitchen remodel. 

1. Designing a Layout 

This blue kitchen won the KBDI NSW kitchen designer of the year award 2017, and NSW large kitchen of the year 2017.

This blue kitchen won the KBDI NSW kitchen designer of the year award 2017, and NSW large kitchen of the year 2017.

Because the kitchen is essentially a working space, it needs to be designed with functionality in mind. Easy and accessible access to food storage and preparation areas are key to a successful kitchen redesign.

 The floor plan and space dictates much of what is possible, and you have to design with these constraints in mind. For instance, in smaller kitchens, large appliances and kitchen islands will decrease space, so think about whether you need more work areas or storage.

 2. Choosing Sinks 

This kitchen is currently nominated in the finals for The Kitchen & Bathroom Designers Institute of Australia's 2018 small kitchen of the year award.

This kitchen is currently nominated in the finals for The Kitchen & Bathroom Designers Institute of Australia's 2018 small kitchen of the year award.

Ensure that your sinks and taps are of high quality so that they last longer. When choosing stainless steel products, look for a high percentage of chromium and nickel, as this indicates the steel is strong and durable. 

Also, decide how much space you can afford to set aside for your sink. It may not be a wise decision to install a double-sink if you’re in need of more worktop space. If this is the case, consider a single, undermount sink.

 3. Picking Materials For Worktop Surfaces 

This "Blue kitchen" was designed by Marianne Gailer.

This "Blue kitchen" was designed by Marianne Gailer.

A work surface should be durable and hygienic. Each material will have its own benefits and drawbacks, so think about your lifestyle and aesthetic preferences when making your choice. 

Some homeowners adore the natural beauty of marble and will put up with the extra maintenance it requires. But if you want a hassle-free surface, composite stone is a better choice, as it is durable, attractive, and more economical.

4. Mixing Lighting 

An eye-catching, red-tiled backsplash enlivens this kitchen.

An eye-catching, red-tiled backsplash enlivens this kitchen.

To create a balanced ambience in your kitchen, use a mixture of task and decorative lighting. Task lighting—such as LED down lights, florescent lighting, and LED cabinetry strip lighting—will make your kitchen more user-friendly, but decorative lighting such as pendants can help create a cozier atmosphere. 

5. Preparing For Your Backsplash 

You can use your new backsplash to add texture and visual flair to the space.

You can use your new backsplash to add texture and visual flair to the space.

Most people don’t consider the backsplash until the final stages of a renovation. However, this can be a mistake, as the backsplash carries much visual weight in most kitchens. 

Think about the size and scale of your backsplash. For example, using an oversized slab or marble of natural stone can help you create a striking kitchen. If you’re choosing tiles, subtle textured tiles can create timeless appeal, while bold, colored tiles can add a sense of drama.

 6. Choosing Cabinetry 

Hardware from German-engineered brands Blum and Hafele are the preferred choice for the Blue Tea Kitchens team.

Hardware from German-engineered brands Blum and Hafele are the preferred choice for the Blue Tea Kitchens team.

Choose high-quality hinges and runners, as these are the engine of your kitchen. For instance, the team at Blue Tea Kitchens likes to use hardware from German-engineered brands Blum and Hafele, because they find them both practical and durable.

7. Being Mindful About Electrical/Plumbing Systems 

This "Drummoyne kitchen" was designed by Laura Poilly for Blue Tea Kitchens.

This "Drummoyne kitchen" was designed by Laura Poilly for Blue Tea Kitchens.

Be mindful of your current electrical and plumbing configurations when renovating. If you live in an apartment, it may not be possible to change your electrical or plumbing systems, as the structure of the building may not allow for major alterations. You will probably have more flexibility if you are remodeling the kitchen in a house. However, it is important to always hire professionals to help with these areas.

 8. Maximizing Space in Small Kitchens 

This "Coogee kitchen" was designed by Nadia Hursky for Blue Tea Kitchens.

This "Coogee kitchen" was designed by Nadia Hursky for Blue Tea Kitchens.

To maximize space in small kitchens, swap cupboards for drawers, which can hold 30-percent more items. Keep the layout simple, yet smart. 

The symmetry of your cabinetry is especially important in a smaller space, as cabinets that are well-proportioned make a space look bigger. Tall but slim cabinetry is also a good idea for tinier kitchens. For your pantry, utilize inner and pull-out drawers.

9. Increasing Functionality in Large Kitchens 

This "Waterloo kitchen" was designed by George Rilkovski for Blue Tea Kitchens.

This "Waterloo kitchen" was designed by George Rilkovski for Blue Tea Kitchens.

If you have ample floor space and entertain frequently, consider including a butler’s pantry—a utility area for preparing food and cleaning up. 

With much of the functional programs located within the butler’s pantry, you will have more space within your kitchen to incorporate social areas, such as breakfast bars.

10. Assessing Maintenance 

This "Kensington kitchen" was designed by Nadia Hursky for Blue Tea Kitchens.

This "Kensington kitchen" was designed by Nadia Hursky for Blue Tea Kitchens.

Choose durable materials from the start. Some luxe items such as marble benchtops and backsplashes require special care, as they are softer and more porous, not to mention stain and scratch faster. 

Cheaper cabinetry and hinges may save you money up front, but often incur higher maintenance costs in the long run. That said, it will be worth your time and money to invest in high quality, long lasting options.