The kitchen is the boiler room of the house. It is central to the creation of the family home. The kitchen is a room that correct design is very important unlike any other room in the house where you have flexibility to correct mistakes. In design and planning a kitchen there is very little room for error and if it occurs, it is an expensive mistake to rectify. Design is sometimes confused with kitchen planning. Both planning and design are critical, and ignoring one while concentrating on the other can lead to disaster and regret. A designer can use different materials, cabinets, finishes and lighting to achieve a sleek, modern cosmopolitan look and feel or produce a kitchen that seems to belong to an old Irish cottage. Therefore you must be clear in your own mind on what you want before you impulsively engage anybody.
There is no limit to the amount of kitchen designs you can have – only your imagination. Kitchen planning is primarily about the effective use of the space you create, or you are allowed to work within an existing house. When you plan a kitchen, you are thinking about the placement of the cooker, sink, appliances, types of cabinets and the layout of the cabinets and worktops.
There is a price to be paid for getting the absolute kitchen you desire. It is called research, and can mean many weeks or months of foot slogging into numerous showrooms and design centres where you look at possibly hundreds of different designs and pick ideas from each to finally put in place the jigsaw that was your jumbled thoughts at the outset. It means going to cities like Dublin, Belfast and Cork to see large showrooms with lots of alternative choice. Ireland is not really a big place so it pays to spend time doing a bit legwork to get the right combination. This is the most important room in the house and one that you may be using for the rest of your life.
You need to trawl the internet to see the latest trends. There is any number of excellent Irish kitchen design books and magazines, providing you with colour photos of kitchens, large and small, expensive and affordable. However these are one dimensional and often can be misleading and confusing in trying to decipher the allocation of space and relate it to the size of your own kitchen. If you really want to be on the cutting edge, look at kitchen designs done in European countries. European kitchen designers often produce stunning results in small spaces, especially German and Italian designers. Most of these manufacturers have showrooms in Ireland and while these may be outside your budget they are worth visiting for ideas.
Design is not just about cabinets and worktops. Every surface in the kitchen is a design element. Unfortunately, lighting is often overlooked in many kitchen designs and it the single most important element. Natural light is your greatest companion, particularly in the dreary Irish winters. You may have little choice in the matter though if you bought a house with poor lighting design in the kitchen. To rectify it would mean structural changes that may neither be practical or cost effective. But if a solution is available within your budget to increase the natural light coming into the kitchen, then go with it. You do not want to create a situation where in wintertime artificial lighting is the only means of illuminating your kitchen during daylight hours.
In many cases it is worthwhile hiring the services of an independent kitchen designer. Do not rely on kitchen manufacturers to design your kitchen as part of their quotation. This is the tail wagging the dog. Manufacturers will steer you in their direction from a convenience point of view (for them) and a maximizing of the cost (for you). Again depending on budget, the independent advice of a designer can be saved many times over in cost and contentment from knowing that you have the kitchen layout you set out to achieve. Regret, on the other hand, is an unworthy companion who never goes away!