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What you should consider before you start a kitchen renovation

The difference between a nice kitchen and an award-winning design is not necessarily budget – it has a lot to do with intelligent planning and accuracy. Sure, you can get an attractive and functional kitchen without much planning, but if you want to make the most of your space, then a little more care is required. Starting from the ground up, here are some practical and aesthetic points to think about…


Plan your heating wisely

Underfloor heating is increasingly favoured over wall-hung radiators, especially in big, open-plan kitchens with tiled floors. But there’s a way to do it efficiently: establishing your precise layout ahead of time will allow you to run the underfloor heating only where it’s needed. You want to avoid areas near appliances, too, as it will reduce their efficiency, particularly fridge-freezers, for obvious reasons.


Consider how the elements relate to one another

A wonderful way to make a kitchen feel really special is to think carefully about how different parts of the room link together. This might be an island that mirrors a skylight, or a breakfast bar running under a window. In this room, the skylight is aligned with the basalt flooring and the extractor and hob. Once decisions on these design points have been made, the key to achieving them will be in the planning and the skill and experience of the architect, designer and builder you’re working with.

See tips for hiring the right builder for your project

Design in any dwarf walls
Something that requires thought from the construction phase of the project is the dwarf wall. Dwarf – or mid-height – walls are one of the best ways to separate areas in an open-plan space. As a feature, they present opportunities for so much – ornament placement, food service worktop, clever lighting – and if built from stud timber, you can incorporate recesses and niches. Plan ahead and run cables inside the frame to give yourself the option of having power sockets and lighting built in.


Layer your lighting

Kitchens tend to be one of the larger spaces in the home and are very functional, so a little extra thought needs to be put into the lighting scheme. The possibilities are endless: spots, tracks, pendants, plinth lights, under-cabinet lights, strip lights, wall lights, floor lights, uplighters, downlighters, mood lights, warm white, cool white, colour-changing LEDs… Mix in different types of light so you can create different atmospheres depending on the task at hand.

Find different types of kitchen lighting here


Incorporate plenty of glazing

When you’re planning your lighting scheme, don’t forget about natural light. Starting with popular bifold and sliding doors, the trend is to have a ‘minimal profile’ – more glass, less frame – to give less obstructed views. It’s very impressive engineering. For the roof lantern, which you have, of course, aligned perfectly with your island unit, choose a quality system that allows seamless, watertight joints. GRP fibreglass and zinc roofing are great options, and both can be matched beautifully to the grey of a bifold frame. If more light is required, throw in a couple of remote-controlled skylights in a vaulted ceiling and you’ll practically be eating lunch in the garden.

Think about tile shapes

Choosing your tile shape based on the shape of your kitchen is a great way to achieve a coherent and well-thought-out look. So a more square space may benefit from square tiles, while for a longer space, consider rectangular tiles to accentuate the shape of the room.

Browse more galley kitchens


Hire a good team of professionals

Working with good architects and builders with solid industry knowledge will be instrumental in guiding you through the renovation. They should be able to hook you up with all the best suppliers, advise you on the newest building materials and processes (look to the Scandinavian countries for inspiration here), and they’ll know any pitfalls to look out for. Hopefully these words give you a starting point for further investigation into any project you want to undertake.]

Gather ideas for your kitchen by browsing more contemporary kitchen photos

Michael Parinchy, Houzz Contributor

About our expert View all posts by this expert

Houzz Experts

Houzz is the leading platform for home renovation and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world.

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