As you know, I often write Blog topics as an answer on the most often asked questions hoping to reach more people with similar interest. Let’s talk about kitchen layout!
Have you ever found yourself in situation when you looked at empty kitchen and made plans, for example, to fit American fridge, double bowl sink, large hob, island with breakfast bar and for bonus pantry; but when it came to reality, only half of your wish list could actually fit in? I know it can be very frustrating and pity, especially if you build or extend your house. But it can happen with anyone, even if it is just a simple renovation of existing space.
Similar story happens when people receive building plans from architects where kitchen layout drawn as rectangular empty boxes. Unfortunately, visually it might seem to look more spacious than actually it is. Be aware of this because often for this reason, some homeowners don’t discuss kitchen layout any further and get ready for building.
Today I want to share with you general idea how to plan kitchen layout and you will get understanding what can be fit into kitchen space just as a Pro. Moreover, I will introduce you general principals of kitchen planning and you will be able understand visual proportions on a plan.
Kitchen design, AlenaCDesign
I will simplify principals and cut it down to general three for easy understanding:
#1 Kitchen cabinet/unit size and position
Usually you place kitchen cabinets where you have empty wall and under the window sill. Your wall will give you a direction how you can arrange kitchen. There will be several variations and which one best for you is very individual choice.
What you should know is all kitchen units have standard size. You don’t need to know all options but the most common are W 600mm and W 1000mm. With these two in mind you can say how many cabinets will fit at the wall with length, for example L3000mm.
Do you see it now? If you would see kitchen as white block on a plan with length 3000mm, you would possibly think – it’s plenty! But knowing cabinets size now, you know that kitchen sink will require cabinet with W 1000mm and you will have space left only for 2 more cabinets with W 1000mm or 3 cabinets with W 600mm each.
Try to remember that every kitchen will also need:
Standard Hob/Cooker (W600mm)
Integrated oven/mcr/w (Tall unit W600mm)
Standard Fridge (W600mm) – American fridge (W 950-1000mm)
Calculation is very simple! Please don’t forget to include cabinets for extra (necessary) storage. Pantry is special consideration and will require W600-W1000mm for tall unit.
These numbers and calculation method will help you to see if there is enough room for the kitchen you want before you buy empty house or build new.
#2 Kitchen island and breakfast bar
These two can be a great addition to a kitchen but it’s good to be sure if there is enough space.
Kitchen island is a set of kitchen cabinets put up together. Now you know, there are standard units are W600mm and W1000mm. It is as simple as putting couple of blocks together and add worktop of your choice on top.
Breakfast bar doesn’t need any cabinets under counter. Minimum recommended depth is 400mm but you simply can use standard worktop with Depth 600mm. Knowing how many people will use breakfast bar at the same time, you have to consider length as 610mm/per person.
These part can be a little bit tricky for visual estimation. In general, planning kitchen layout you have to consider free space to open doors and walk around without interruption. You have to consider distance from kitchen cabinets to island and breakfast bar. Here what you need to know:
– when you plan kitchen and island with NO cabinets with opening doors, you will require distance between them only L1020mm
– if you plan kitchen with island with opening cabinets under island counter, you will require distance between kitchen and island L1200mm. We need this distance, so when you open door of kitchen units and island cabinets at the same time, they don’t bump into each other.
-if your dining table is in front of the kitchen, distance from kitchen to dining table should not be closer than 1830mm, better further away.
Here are main three principals what you should take into consideration when you plan kitchen layout. Take your ruler and start measuring from the wall by adding cabinets width, door voids and distance to your breakfast bar and distance to walk around on the opposite side. It will give a true idea what you can fit inside. Of course, if you will decide designing kitchen completely yourself, these three wouldn’t be enough to know but they will help you in preparing general layout.
If you still have any questions related to this topic, be free to ask. I will be happy to help!
Most of my blog posts contain advice to help people with residential design, who decorate homes themselves. Although, as a designer I often meet local businesses and there is a great number of owners who also like or choose to decorate themselves. It is true that Residential and Commercial design use the same design principals but still there is a significant difference in approach!
Smart design can help your business to attract more clients to open your door and come inside, it will help to sell your products or service. Design will make your brand more visible, trustworthy and clear to others, it helps to create right atmosphere and make it a part of overall experience making them to come back.
What I call smart design isn’t just a good taste in styling and matching colours but a good bit of science. I always use practical psychology and spatial design principals to achieve best result.
I have a little story to share. I used to live in Moscow and one day I had to go to dentist. It is probably the worse plan for Saturday morning. So you can guess mood wasn’t great and I was pretty nervous on a way to dental clinic. When I came inside, there was an ordinary reception and I’ve been asked to wait. The most surprising thing, there was no waiting room with chairs, what you usually expect. I followed a girl into a back room, which looked like conservatory. There were leather seats, TV on, lots of greenery, self-catering tea & coffee in a corner. Double doors were opened and I could see that actually the weather was warm and sunny outside. Seating there for about 15 minutes I’ve totally forgot that I’m in dental clinic! It changed my mood and I felt much better. At the end of the day the dental service was great too and I thought – that’s was a great Saturday! The key point of this story is even if you provide exceptional service and sell great products, people buy experience. They will walk out of the door and will remember only feeling they had during a visit. Design help you to set and provide experience beyond all expectations.
Of course, every different business will have different design solution for many reasons but I would like to share with you the most important design key points, which will be common for most businesses to consider.
#1 Plan Layout Before Design
Before you choose paint or any other finishing materials, think how you place furniture first. Decide where will be reception or desk. Try to imagine how your customers/clients will move around, what do you want them to see first and etc. It will help you to determine which area is a Focal point, which gives your visitors first expression. Give it a special thought from the point of design. Usually there are 4 the most common area types you will need to set in your business: Focal point, Reception, Waiting area, Working area. Of course, it depends on a business specific not all businesses will have waiting area but other three should be considered.
As I mentioned before it is very important to create something memorizing and eye-catching. It can be a bright or rich painted wall, photo arrangement, art, mural, quotes etc. There are many ideas for different budgets. Not all customers are good to remember company names but they will talk and share experience with friends in a way, “you must visit a shop with this outstanding wall inside”.
Dior Unveils London Boutique Design by Peter Marino via bykoket.com
#3 Lighting is everything!
Did you know that the most visited businesses, especially retails, the ones have lights on all the time! Better to say, the businesses who have lights inside visible for potential customers/ clients outside. If you have a display window and products are arranged beautifully but it looks like it is dark inside, the number of visitors (potential customers) will be minimum. Unfortunately, window display is not enough any more. The reason is simple – every single window on a main street has a display. People pass those windows every day and stop paying attention but situation is dramatically changes when there is light inside. The light, be it a simple pendant or chandelier, gives us an idea ‘ it is busy inside’ and makes most people curious to come in.
#4 Use Colour psychology
All people are sensitive to colours, some more than others but it is undeniable. Power of colour will help to achieve desirable atmosphere and give your customers right mood for shopping, enjoy meal, accept service you provide etc. Here are several examples what some colours mean:
Yellow is a warm, joyful colour and it stimulates logical thinking and decision making.
Green creates sense of calm and harmony. It encourages generosity, kindness and sympathy.
Blue helps to increase customer’s loyalty and trust. It demonstrates confidence, reliability and responsibility. It promotes one-to-one communication rather than mass communication.
Purple shows wealth, extravagance and creativity. It is great colour to demonstrate sense of beauty and premium quality.
There are more colours with specific meaning and use several for the best result.
#5 Attention to details
Choose finishing details to match overall look and general design concept. Even affordable solutions can look great. Add accessories even if you don’t sell them but they will help to dress your stock. If you offer tea and coffee, use cups which will reflect your brand or business style. If you have elegant interior but use shabby chairs, it will be noticeable to your clients. Don’t let small things to ruin all the hard work and money you’ve invested.
Think of your business place design as an Investment and not an expense! Only then it will pay off and return a profit. When you do commercial design in cheap and cheerful way, your customers will expect you selling products cheap and cheerful too. They even might be very frustrated why prices are higher than their expectations.
Good design attracts right customers and they expect to pay price your business represent. Think yourself, when you visit boutique and see price a little bit higher than in any average shop, you look around a shop and you understand that you pay for quality and exclusive look. But what would be your thoughts if the same products with the same price tag would be presented in shabby retail place? I hope you get an idea. Make right choice and don’t do it half way!
How hard can it be to put several colours together? Someone will think you need a talent; someone else will say you need to have a sense of balance. When some people are natural to decorate and match colours together, for others it’s hours of frustration and doubts if colour scheme is finished.
Let me try to help and share Pro advice how to complete attractive, eye-catching colour scheme. It is not a secret that all colours can be divided on two groups of warm and cool. I like to call them Ying and Yang of colour palette.
Warm colours such as red, brown, orange, yellow and all shades of cream and beige associates with sunlight, heat and warmth. That’s why beige and cream is the most popular neutral choice in decorating. They are great colours to make place to look cozy and warm.
Although, when it comes to choosing accent colours to complement basic tone, the most obvious choice would be orange, red, yellow, brown because colours of one group are matching easy and well. Unfortunately, that’s where a trap finds many. There is a risk that every part of the room will look the same and if there is nothing can catch your eye, room doesn’t look finished.
There is no complete formula on proportion of warm and cool tones in one colour scheme. Keep in mind, when it is too warm add a shadow of cooling tone, when it is too cold add a warm highlight. Visual proportion is more about your personal sense of colour and taste.
In a matter of how it can be done: If you like multi-colored design, use several paint colours on different walls, mix patterns on curtains, cushions or rug.
Stove is not a new product in home improvement but time shows that one of the most efficient. The number of people who wants to get a stove grows every year. If to take every 10 design projects I worked on recently, 8 of them included new stove installation.
There are many reasons why stoves on such a high demand. Here are some main advantages:
1. It produces more heat with less fuel.
2. You don’t loose heat through a chimney.
3. If you have enclosed stove, there is no chimney drafts.
4. Your house gets higher BER certificate rating and higher value on a market.
Before you will start stove installation in your house read my practical recommendations to save time and money:
#1 Decide what stove type you need
If you have no idea what to start from, I highly recommend to go to retail which specializes on selling stoves. Qualified team will help you to find technical details and parameters of stove you need.
When you will know stove type for your home, don’t forget to calculate required output for your space. Simply, measure floor area which needs to be heated and visit any online calculator with open access and get your number.
TIP: Choosing a stove take into consideration if you have back-boiler and what type of fuel you plan to use !Ask Pro to help.
#2 Flue Pipe location
Answer can be obvious only if you install stove into existing chimney. If you get a stove for your new extension and you don’t have any chimney or certain location, here are your options:
– Through the roof
– Use outside wall
– Build chimney.
I would like to get your attention to the last one. Let’s look at the situation where you have house and you want to build an extension with stove inside. It’s more likely you would like to get stove at the far side of the extension because it makes more sense to enter room and walk to the fire rather than bumping into stove at the start of the room. I heard from several engineers that flue pipe can be installed only close to the outside wall of the existing house because you need to bring it 1m higher of your existing roof and such. It’s true but it isn’t all! I don’t enjoy long discussions and always choose to read Building regulations.
It is good to know that you can install flue pipe anywhere you want in your extension IF ONLY it is not closer than 2.3m to any skylight, opening window or wall ventilation. It means, if you have 2-storey house and you build extension, if you locate your stove further than 2.3m than outside wall of your existing house and you are not closer than 2.3m to your neighbours, you can put flue pipe 1m above extension roof. You don’t have to bring flue pipe any higher, unless you have individual concerns.
#3 Surround for stove
As a designer, I always recommend to have build-in stove or get a surround:
– It looks more attractive without any pipes around
– There is less mess on your actual floor
– It is more kids-friendly solution as they see boundary comparing to free standing option.
Having integrated stove gives you an opportunity to have a stone surround. One of the greatest features in any Irish home!
#4 Choose right tiles
There is a very popular trend to tile wall behind stove at the moment. It isn’t just a nice look but also protects your wall from cracking from a heat. Porcelain tiles is the best choice. The way they are produced makes them more dense, better temperature resistant, less porous, much harder and less prone to moisture and stain absorption than ceramic tiles.
I know it is had to think of where you will put a little basket with wood before you actually have walls of your extension. But planning in advance is a key to a better functioning house. Planning storage in advance opens for you a better solution than moving basket from side to side.
Consider build-in storage around chimney where you can store everything you need. Plan this before you build, you will need to centre your chimney leaving enough space on each side.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your holiday break and now ready to accomplish your plans and dreams in New Year.
Today would like to talk about practical use of wood and engineered flooring, where you can use it and explain WHY! As often happens, I write blog posts because of some Real-Life situations push me to reach people and break false beliefs. This time, similar situation happened with me in one local tile store, where I was told ‘ You can’t use engineered wood flooring in the kitchen! ONLY TILES!’ ….Well, I wonder how many people think the same?
Obviously he couldn’t explain why he thinks so. I assume he heard it from someone else. In any case, I want to give more details why YOU CAN use Engineered flooring in the kitchen!
To be more convincing for you, I will recall to my Engineering background. Let’s look closer at Properties of Materials.
To understand what kind of flooring you can use in the kitchen, let’s talk about common wood properties, such as:
– Wood has good strength along with elasticity and specific viscosity. It includes ability to resist fracture under mechanical loads. For example, if you jump on a floor or drop something heavy, wood will not break like a glass.
– Wood has good ability to resist wear. Wet wood wear is greater than dry wood.
– Another thing about wood, it has high porosity and high water absorption. We can’t ignore this fact and should be careful to use wood in wet areas. Even if wood is treated, oiled or waxed.
– Shrinkage is another wood property. Other words, it is resizing the loss of moisture in the wood by drying. Shrinkage occurs naturally. The direct consequence is a shrinkage cracking. It’s the main risk of using real wood in wet areas.
Here are not all wood properties so far but the main we need for now. So you know wood is very water and moisture sensitive because of its porosity!
Luckily we live in task-solving century and thanks to innovative thinking, now we have Engineered wood. Thanks to special technology we have benefits of real wood but with improved properties which allow us to use it even in wet areas like kitchen or bathrooms.
Engineered flooring consists of at least 3 layers of plywood glued together, where the top layer is a thin layer of actual hardwood. At the same time, plywood consists of several thin wood layers glued together. Layers compressed together! That’s why it has extremely low porosity. Moreover, the wood grain of each ply runs perpendicular to the ply below it achieving high level of stability.
Engineered flooring has superior stability and has great resistance to temperature and moisture changes. It can be used in any area where you wouldn’t think of using hard wood flooring. Moreover, engineered wood flooring is the ONLY solution if you want to appreciate real wood in challenging areas or environment. Especially, if you install under floor heating!
Talking about engineered flooring, I also would like to mention laminate flooring. I know some people find it as a fair alternative to real wood. In fact, it is a good wood illusion product. It is made of compressed and glued wooden ‘dust’ with high-resolution picture on a top. Price for laminate flooring can be 3 times lower, though it wouldn’t have all wood advantages and greater performance.
If you need a specific advice about tiles, stone or wood or something else specific, talk to your local supplier with wooden flooring trading specialisation.
Wish you a great start in this year and I believe it is going to be a fantastic year for all of us!
I hope you are doing well and have started getting ready for Christmas. It is a very busy time of the year and for some people especially. Only I could name few, who is still working hard to finish house before winter holidays.
Most of us, who doesn’t have a deal with paint on daily basis, see choosing a paint as simply buying tin of colour and a brush. The hard bit here is to decide what finish you need to go for. Different surfaces and areas require different finish to fulfil practicality. The most common case when people get to this question is the moment they are about to paint doors or wooden cabinets in their homes. Would you know ‘What paint finish do you need for your doors?’ How to decide either you need Matt, Satin or Gloss paint?
Let’s figure it all out together with my personal practical tips and helpful info I’ve found to give you more details.
#1 Level of Sheen (Glossiness)
Taking a tour in your local DIY store, you probably find all common finishes: Matt, Eggshell, Satin, Silk, Semi-gloss and High Gloss. To understand the difference between them, we should know average level of glossiness of each finish. Therefore, than less glossy paint than more flat and less shiny it looks. So, Matt has the most flat finish of them all.
There is no details how precise these numbers but they give us a general (estimated) idea how shiny painted surface will look.
#2 Practical Aspect
I will simplify all advantages and disadvantages of two extreme sheens (Matt and Gloss) and you will get a good idea which finish works for you best.
(+) Great to hide imperfections! Any possible damages or scratches will not be reflected on a surface, so will stay invisible. It is a good part!(-) Unfortunately smooth surface get small damages easier. Moreover, Matt and even surfaces can loose its neat look.(+) It is very easy to give a quick fresh paint touch to look perfect again.(+) White paint: has a clean, neat look. It doesn’t change tone.
We all dream of the beautiful house, where we feel comfortable, cosy, homey and welcoming for our guests. To have the home you’ve always wanted you need to add final accessories and wall decor. I use common meaning of decor because we will talk not just about pictures and framed photos, but also mirrors, paintings, metal wall art, clocks etc.
It doesn’t matter if you are a professional designer or it is your hobby to decorate, facing 4 empty freshly painted walls can give a panic to anyone. It can be quiet a challenge if you have a deal with a big room.
I’d like to share with you several Pro tips to give a good understanding how to choose the best wall decor arrangement. Let’s look at a very common case where we have 4 walls: 1st wall is taken by a window, 2nd is taken by a door or double doors. Now we need to create balance of shapes, forms, textures and colours only for 2 walls. Don’t plan decor for each wall separately. Do it at the same time and then each wall with complement one another.
Here is a list of your main considerations:
#1 Use different shape
If you decide to put couple of pictures or canvas on a wall, try to avoid putting square or rectangular mirror or another canvas next to it. Try to add round or different shape instead. For example, it can be round mirror in the middle and rectangular canvas on each side.
Choose which line vertical or horizontal you want to showcase. If you would like to feature high ceiling then choose display object with maximum vertical dimension, for example oval mirror, long narrow canvas etc.
In opposite, if you have narrow space and you would like to maximize it, add objects with maximum horizontal dimension, such as horizontal rectangular canvas or art, shelves from wall to wall. We need to show active line which tries to reach limits and stretches the wall to look bigger.
Proportion has a large impact on spacial functionality. It can be a hard one because it requires vision of space in 3 dimensional space. Although, to keep any decorative objects fair to the size of your wall, display should take average 2/3 of the wall. It will let you save correct wall and room proportion. If you don’t like large objects on a wall, you can consider wall decor with size half of chosen vertical or horizontal line.
I have mentioned that it is a great technique to display several objects with different textures together. But I would like to add: if you plan to unite several objects in one display, make sure you compete your idea. Before you think of a number of things to involve into it, think of the general shape and a size of this display on a wall. Use masking tape and draw border of this collection where you want it to be. The next step is to fill up internal space with chosen decorative objects. You can cut shape of each decorative element out of paper, place it on a wall making sure it all looks perfect and more or less has the same distance from each other.
I hope these tips and ideas will help you to complete your project into home! Keep looking for fresh ideas and don’t hesitate to try something new. I like to say “Try something new you’ve never tried before to have home you’ve never had before but always wanted”.
It’s not a secret that every person wants to have a dream house. I also know that every second homeowner would like to improve existing building, or even better, to start from scratch and build a new house to make life more comfortable. Whatever changes you decide to make, you should become familiar with building regulations.
I will publish 2 Parts related to Building Regulations topic. First part will cover what you can build without requesting permission and Part 2 will provide general guidance to assist you to fulfil the necessary administrative and procedural requirements to avoid penalties and significant fines.
First of all, let’s have a look at situations when YOU DON’T NEED BUILDING PERMISSION:
House extension and renovation. Foxrock, Dublin, Ireland by ecospace.ie
1. You are allowed to build extension without permission at the rare of your house and if it is no bigger than 40 m2. If you already have extension and you want to make it bigger than altogether extension should not increase the original floor area of the house by more than 40 m2. (For example, if you have extension 30 m2, you can extend it maximum on 10m2, additionally).
2. Extension is not higher than the house.
3. You still have to reserve area for your rear garden – minimum 25 m2 after extension was built.
Similar rules fair to converting a garage attached to the rear or side of the house:
Capped walls made of brick, stone or block, wooden fences but no security fences can be erected as long as they do not exceed 1.2 metres in height or two metres at the side or rear. Gates may be built and do not exceed 2 metres in height.
Permission is always required to if you wish to widen or create new access to the public road.
You can install a satellite dish at the back or side of the house with diameter up to 1 metre and no higher than the top of the house roof. A dish on the front needs planning permission. Only one dish may be erected on a house.
Here described general guidance to build without permission but it is good practice to check additional details with your local authority before starting to make any changes.
Remember that you will need planning (building permission) If you want to make substantial change to the use of your land or building which will have an actual or potential impact on neighbours or the local community. You will find more information in next post ‘Before you start building: Planning Permission’.
As an Interior Designer, I love the side of my work that people are so different with different tastes for the home. Some people like open plan designs, when others prefer more privacy around the house. When we buy new house, we estimate living space just in general such as big kitchen, fine size bathroom and sitting room. But when we actually start living, we have a better look on how to improve home. One of them is additional privacy within a house.
Recently, I’ve been asked for an advice how to add privacy to dining room. As this question came from several different people, I will add more examples related to this area. Although, these design ideas stay fair for any room and area in the house.
If your room (dining room) doesn’t have divider or separation with other spaces and looks like on picture below then welcome to read more and don’t forget to decide how much of light and privacy you want to allow!
In every house, you can find one or two display shelves. Especially now, when we have open resources for design inspiration such as Pinterest, Houzz, Online Magazines etc. people understand the idea of having display but keep it to extreme minimalism style. The typical display would be a collection of random framed family pictures or couple of candles, vases.
I want to encourage you to make display unique to your individuality and to your home style, don’t be afraid to add more, don’t hesitate to show off!
Try to look at the top of your console table or shelf on a wall not as an empty place for STUFF. You put a great afford choosing paint, wallpaper, rug, light and put the same afford to your display shelf. It is amazing how beautiful, well-organized objects can transform the look of your room, it can complement colour scheme or complete the overall look.
Very often I hear from homeowners that they like it neutral colour scheme and they avoid colours because afraid to overdo it. Then room is dull and not complete. You feel it and know it but not sure how to change it. I will tell you that display is exactly what you need! Display with few colours can be the best solution to brighten the room up and achieve balance of neutrals and colours.
Objects in-group should have different height! Start from the back – place the tallest and moving forward, place smaller things. You can use the same height items if you display them in line. Otherwise, show variety Big, Medium, Smaller.
Add textures! Don’t hesitate to combine accessories of different material and types: Frames and artificial plants, metal shiny clock with drift wood etc. Unpredictable combinations are more eye attractive. We want to look, investigate what we can find on a shelf. That’s what display should be!
Add colours. If you love neutral colour scheme then use display as opportunity to add careful brightness. Add objects of chosen colour into display group. One or two colour tones in each group will make a trick! Once you want your room to change colour, add new objects with new tone and Voila!