First and foremost, functionality really should be the most important facet of kitchen design. Whether it’s through flooring and lighting options suited to your personal needs, or top of the line appliances. You must be sure that you are prioritising the key functions of your kitchen to enjoy every mealtime and social gathering you have there. You should love your kitchen, so ensuring that everything works in a straightforward, harmonious manner can help you live out all of your kitchen dreams. Form should never come before function.
Get creative with your lighting
Lighting is a very important, if underrated, aspect of your kitchen’s functionality. Overhead lighting is the dominant, go-to style for most kitchens today, but it often isn’t enough. Shadows caused by overhead lights can disrupt your workspace, especially when you’re engaging in more intricate knife skills.
Plus, the kitchen has fast become one of the central party rooms of the house. For those evenings with a bottle of wine and a few friends, bright overhead lights can give the room an unwelcoming clinical feel.
As an alternative to those bright overheads, mix and match the lighting solutions you opt for. Combine overheads with lights built into cabinets. You can switch between the two, allowing you to find the best lighting option to suit the mood in the room. Pendant lights are also a great lighting feature to include in the design of your kitchen. Pendants not only ensure that the light in your kitchen is never too clinical or blinding, but they also provide a beautiful aesthetic focal point to the room. There are some really eye-catching pendant designs out there, so don’t be afraid to make a design statement with your lighting.
To really make the most out of your kitchen’s lighting, it’s important that you have full control over it. Installing a dimmer switch can help your kitchen reach optimum functionality by letting you adjust the intensity of the lights in the room. With a dimmer, you can change the lighting to fit the current function of your kitchen; whether that’s bright lights for the preparation of an intricate dish, or a little lower for that romantic dinner for two.
Choose top quality flooring
We’ve already written about the difference that good quality flooring can have on your kitchen - read that article here. However, it bears repeating. Choosing the right flooring for your kitchen can drastically boost the room’s functionality. A truly functional kitchen is a safe kitchen, and your floor should reflect this. When choosing your flooring, don’t substitute safety and functionality for a slippery or uncomfortable option, no matter how aesthetically pleasing it may be.
It’s worth remembering that, aside from your hallway, the kitchen is likely to experience the heaviest foot traffic in your home. As such, it’s important to choose a strong, durable flooring that can withstand a lot of punishment. At the same time, you’ll be standing for long periods of time in your kitchen, so don’t feel as though the only option to go for is hard flagstone. Think outside the box and choose a comfortable, yet hard-wearing material such as rubber over the more common tile and laminate.
Find intuitive appliances
The appliances in your kitchen are, without a doubt, some of the most important aspects that go towards increasing the functionality of the room. Try to streamline any appliances you have, considering their locations in the kitchen work triangle (more on that below) and perhaps combining their features if possible. For instance, opt for a fridge-freezer or washer-dryer over two separate appliances. You could even consider the combi ovens with built in microwaves that have been growing in popularity in recent years.
Achieving optimum kitchen functionality through your appliances has been made even easier with the rise of smart technology. From refrigerators that let you know when you need to stock up on milk, to dishwashers you can control from your phone. Smart appliances are leading the charge as the modern technology designed to optimise the function of your kitchen.
If you want to upgrade the functionality of your kitchen without breaking the bank, consider the ways that you could streamline your appliances. Installing a microwave into your kitchen units is a popular way of tidying up your sides, giving you more prep space. For that truly streamlined look, consider working large appliances such as the dishwasher into your units. A sudden hit of plastic or stainless steel can really break up the flow of a newly installed kitchen.
Utilise the kitchen work triangle
No, this isn’t anything to do with those fluorescent triangles placed outside building sites. The kitchen work triangle is a design concept that states that following an imaginary line between the sink, hob and fridge will lead to optimum kitchen efficiency and functionality. The concept of the work triangle may be a little old fashioned now, but it still provides a solid base for determining the optimal way to lay out your kitchen. Ultimately, having an uninterrupted triangle, with the three appliances close - but not too close - is an almost guaranteed method for optimising the function of your kitchen.
If you have a larger kitchen and often have multiple people cooking at once, following the triangle may not be the best option for you. Instead, consider zoning off separate areas of your kitchen to create multiple workspaces. Do this and you’ll have a perfectly optimised, streamlined kitchen workspace.
Pick up high quality gadgets
In a similar vein to the way that smart appliances can help optimise the functionality of your kitchen, small kitchen gadgets can also make food prep and cooking a lot more straightforward. From innovative smart kettles and toasters, to high quality mixers, food processors and blenders - investing in the right gadgets can make a huge difference to the functionality of your kitchen.
Although they may not be the first object to pop into people's’ minds when they hear the word ‘gadgets’, a good set of kitchen knives can definitely help you optimise your workspace. Having just three, very high quality knives - a classic chef’s knife, paring knife and a serrated knife - can cut food preparation times in half (pun intended). Ultimately, investing in some high quality gadgets can make a great difference to the efficiency of your kitchen, no doubt improving the functionality of the room.
Tidy your plug sockets
When you’re looking to optimise your kitchen by streamlining the room, you should definitely consider ways to deal with any plug sockets. Often, sockets can stick out like a sore thumb against a well-designed kitchen. Whether it’s the bulkiness of a socket breaking up a minimalist flow, or the white colouration acting as a blemish on a beautiful colour scheme, plug sockets can be a pain.
To really streamline your kitchen, one of our favourite things to suggest is that you install sockets as pop ups in your islands and worktops. In doing this, you can be sure that your sockets won’t disrupt the flow of your kitchen, while also giving you easy access to them at all times. If pop up plugs aren’t your thing, consider installing sockets underneath cabinets or worktops. Again, this helps disguise them by keeping the sockets separate from the design flow of your kitchen.
There are, however, plug sockets that we advise you keep in their usual place on the wall. For any appliances that are likely to be constantly plugged in, such as kettles, toasters or microwaves, it may be a good idea to install the sockets directly behind them. If you’re worried about these sockets breaking up a colour scheme, consider painting them to match the wall, or opting for a material such as stainless steel or copper for the outlet’s surround.
Go for smarter storage options
We’ve addressed the importance of smart storage options in another post. However, having the best storage options available in your kitchen can have a substantial impact on its functionality. Open shelving and hollow islands can give you quick access to the majority of your cookware, really encouraging efficiency in the kitchen.
Furthermore, making sure that your kitchen is well-organised can absolutely help to optimise functionality. Knowing where everything is, whether that be utensils, cookware or ingredients will have a huge impact on the ease and efficiency through which your kitchen can be used. Well-designed storage space is an underrated, yet hugely important aspect of optimising your kitchen.
Here at Squarepeg Designs, we know what your kitchen needs for optimum work and social functionality. Our bespoke kitchen designs are created with all those details that make a kitchen truly yours and our specialist team of London-based designers work hard to bring traditional craft values to each of our projects. Get in touch!