Kitchen appliances are at the core of every kitchen design; after all, kitchens in their most basic form are for preparing and cooking meals. Of course, nowadays kitchens serve many purposes in our lives beyond cooking, mostly thanks to a rise in open-plan living: a dining area, a place for children to do their homework, a lounge, a space to entertain friends or do laundry. So, when we talk about kitchen appliances today, it's essential to consider a wider variety of appliances to reflect these modern needs. Whilst the core focus is still traditional appliances such as ovens, hobs and refrigeration, we must also include wine fridges, coffee machines, laundry appliances and other modern appliances that may enhance our enjoyment of our home.
In this article, we share some expert tips on how to plan the layout of your appliances for modern kitchens today. Our designers also reveal photos of 10 inspiring kitchen appliance ideas from real homes that you could incorporate into your design.
Expert Tips for Planning The Layout of Your Appliances
The position of appliances can make or break a kitchen design, and even the most beautiful kitchens can become tiresome to live in if poorly planned. A kitchen is first and foremost a functional space, and the success of a kitchen design lies in its ability to facilitate a seamless and effortless flow between tasks, making it a joy to cook and prepare meals. This is the concept behind the Working Triangle model. The Working Triangle - also known as the "golden triangle" - is a design principle for planning a kitchen layout that dates back to the early twentieth century. The theory states that a kitchen's three main function areas - the sink, refrigerator and oven - should form a triangle, with each section of the triangle representing a traffic flow that facilitates rotational movement between each cooking task. Most kitchens since the mid-twentieth century have been designed based on this model.
However, the multi-functional nature of kitchens today means that kitchen design layouts have evolved and the position of appliances is often considered with a new perspective to reflect modern life. Although the principle still applies, it has taken on a new form with designers favouring an evolved kitchen triangle that focusses around work zones that cater to more specific functions such as baking, prepping and entertaining to name a few.
Naturally, creating a layout that will suit every family members' needs both now and in 10 or 20 years is a specialist skill and requires the expertise of a professional kitchen designer. However, you can begin to draw on the Working Triangle principles yourself by thinking about how you and your family wish to use the kitchen. If your kitchen is open-plan, consider how each family member will use each area of the room as a whole which may incorporate kitchen, dining and living areas. Imagining your layout will help you to establish your zones, and you will begin to identify which appliances you need, as well as the most practical position for them.
Now that you have an insight into kitchen layout design theory, read on to learn ten ways to arrange your appliances to elevate the layout and look of your kitchen.
1. Configure A Bank of Ovens
Most kitchens today are planned with eye-level ovens, steamers and microwaves rather than positioning them under the counter. This is purely for ease of use as having the ovens at this height enables you to easily move trays in and out with ease as well as keep an eye on your masterpiece without having to bend down. Professional and experienced kitchen designers will often tailor the height of a bank of appliances to the height of the owners if the standard heights aren't convenient for them.
The bank of ovens is a popular choice for many as it brings all of the cooking appliances together in combinations of two, three or four. The specific appliances can be selected to suit your cooking needs including ovens, steam ovens, microwaves, combi-ovens, warming drawers and even coffee machines.
2. Hide Your Cooker Hood
There are a variety of cooker hoods available that can be hidden out of sight; these include canopy hoods, ceiling hoods and downdraft extractors.
For hobs positioned against a wall, a canopy cooker hood can be concealed within cabinetry to create a more minimalist look. Although the extractor will take up some of the space inside the cabinets, there is the added benefit of gaining additional storage too.
3. Stay Social Whilst Cooking
Positioning a hob on a kitchen island rather than against a wall is often considered a more sociable layout. Having the hob on the island enables you to face into the room when cooking which can be an excellent choice for people with younger children as you can keep an eye on your family while you cook. An island hob is also a great option for those that enjoy entertaining. Your guests can stand or sit around your island enjoying some drinks, nibbles and good conversation, as you cook and plate up the meals whilst ensuring that you don't miss out on the fun.
If you are a keen cook, a hob, grill or teppanyaki plate on your kitchen island can add a theatrical vibe to your dinner parties. Griddle some steaks, toss and flip a paella or flambe some bananas for dessert to create a dramatic spectacle for your guests.
4. Integrate Your Refrigerator & Freezer
Integrated refrigerators and freezers are designed to be hidden behind a door and they are a popular choice for many modern-day kitchen designs. This is often because fridges and freezers are the largest appliances in a kitchen and can take up a substantial amount of visual space. The most widely used finishes for freestanding fridges are stainless steel, white and black and while this can complement some kitchen designs, a freestanding fridge and freezer can often overpower the design scheme, particularly for smaller kitchens.
Hiding fridges and freezers behind doors to match the rest of the kitchen will completely disguise them and create a more minimal aesthetic. As these appliances can be heavy to open, it's important to consider the handle choice. A standard bar handle or similar will be easier to open than an integrated one, making them a good choice for older generations, those prone to joint pains or other health conditions. Some integrated fridges also offer a push to open feature for even greater flexibility.
5. Make Your Fridge A Feature
Sometimes integrating your refrigerator isn't an option. For example, some people love the user experience of an American-style fridge freezer with split refrigerator doors for convenient access and a freezer drawer compartment. A freestanding option could also be the best choice for those that would like filtered water and ice.
Although freestanding fridges can have the potential to impose on a design scheme, if designed correctly, they can become a feature. Positioning a refrigerator in a central position in the kitchen and surrounding it with cabinetry, feature mirrors or building it into a wall will make it feel at home in the room. A designer will plan the surrounding cabinetry in terms of colour, proportions and practicality so that a freestanding refrigerator adds to the design rather than detract from it.
6. Embrace Symmetry
Symmetry can be very pleasing on the eye, creating a sense of orderliness and calm. However, a symmetrical kitchen appliance layout can be highly functional too. Positioning ovens along a wall of units either side of a hob or sink is a practical layout for many kitchens, ensuring that everything is to hand when preparing meals.
7. Indulge With An Under Counter Wine Fridge
As we covered earlier in this article, the role of today's kitchens extrnds beyond cooking. For many people, a kitchen that facilitates dinner parties and gatherings with friends and family is high on the wish-list.
Whilst most people prefer to have their appliances at eye level, wine fridges are an exception with most layouts positioning smaller wine fridges under the worktops with the low-level kitchen cabinetry. Locating a wine fridge on the kitchen island or peninsula facing into the living space is highly practical for entertaining as the drinks are easily accessed during a party. The reverse of a kitchen island is less likely to be used daily, so placing the wine fridge there can also free up cabinet space to be utilised according to your daily needs.
8. Extend Your Kitchen With A Drinks Station
For homes with a larger, more spacious floor plan, it can sometimes be practical to position certain kitchen features elsewhere in the room. For example, if a living area or dining room is located on the opposite end of the house to the main kitchen, an option is to design a separate drinks station. A refrigerator, hot tap and small bin, along with storage for mugs, glasses, tea bags and coffee beans could be incorporated to create a dedicated drinks zone. Equally, for those that regularly entertain, a wine and beer fridge combined with storage for wine and cocktail glasses, ice buckets and other party essentials will minimise trips back and forth to the main kitchen when enjoying an evening with friends or family.
9. Choose A Feature Range Cooker
Range cookers have a rich history dating back to the early 1820s when early gas stoves were invented and they are typically found in traditional style kitchens. Modern range cookers, such as those by AGA and Rangemaster, are a single freestanding appliance featuring an oven and hob in one. The ovens in range cookers are typically larger than those in a single integrated oven and many range cookers have two ovens along with warming drawers, separate grills and storage compartments.
There are a variety of range cookers available with different features and designs. Some range cookers are always on and produce heat 24/7, whereas others can be switched on and off as required. Some range cookers even boast a boiler feature to heat the water for your home.
A range cooker is an exception to the popular choice to place ovens at eye level and a range cooker will usually be positioned as a focal point of a kitchen, with a cooker hood above. The range cooker works especially well in conjunction with other specialist appliances such as a steamer, coffee machine and microwave.
10. Hide Worktop Appliances
Not all of the appliances that are used in a kitchen are built-in. Toasters, blenders, juicers and mixers are just some of the worktop appliances that are welcome additions to integrated appliances.
Some people would prefer that these appliances can be tucked away out of sight when not in use to create a more uncluttered look. However, unplugging your toaster and taking it in and out of a cupboard every time you use it is highly impractical so a more sensible option is to create a permanent home for these appliances that keeps them easy to access and use but affords the option to hide them away. A pantry or larder can be a perfect solution. Incorporating a durable worktop inside your pantries, such as granite or ceramic, along with plug sockets provides the perfect place to store your toaster, blender or other worktop appliance. During the design phase of your project, a professional kitchen designer can tailor the height of the shelves in your pantry to suit the specific appliances that you own.
So there you have it, ten ways to incorporate appliances into your kitchen to improve the layout and flow or simply achieve a certain design aesthetic.
For expert guidance designing your own kitchen and appliances, contact KCA to speak with a specialist Design Consultant. Call us on 01344 883777 or book an appointment online.
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