Designing Oak Kitchens
Part One: Layout
There are many elements to consider when designing oak kitchens. In this guide, our aim is to help make the process as easy as possible by recommending what you might like to think about and suggesting some ways to make the most of your space.
The layout of your kitchen is really the foundation to the design, and needs to be consolidated before you go on to choose your hardwood kitchen cabinets and accessories. If you are happy with the original layout, you might want to skip this stage; however, even if you are satisfied, it is worth double checking every element of the blueprint. You might find that you can devise a better use of the space than the previous layout allows – even if it means making just the slightest tweak to the arrangement.
Shape of Your Kitchen
This first thing to think about is the natural shape of the space. You’ll find that much of your design relies on positioning the three most important features: fridge, oven and sink. We will look over this and the common mapping of their relationship (the working triangle) in more detail below. For now, let’s consider the innate elements of the space. Your existing kitchen/blueprint will to some extent be determined by the shape of the room; if you’d like to make changes to the layout, you’ll still need to consider the natural features of the kitchen. Below is a list of the most common configurations:
- Corridor/Galley: Also known as step-saver. The room tends to be small and so economy of design is important. Be sure to choose a layout which avoids the main pathway passing through the work area – this will prove very disruptive in practice. The oven and sink tend to be on one wall, separated from a fridge directly opposite by a narrow walkway.
- L-Shape: One long leg joining a short leg. The longer section tends to house two of the three appliances mentioned above (fridge, sink and oven), with the other appliance residing in the short section. Often kitchen designers favour placing the oven and fridge at the furthermost points (opposite ends of the ‘L’) with the sink in between.
- U-Shape: Similar to the L-Shape in essence; the two sections are simply equal in length. The oven and fridge are often placed opposite one another and all three appliances are equidistant.
- G-Shape: An extension of a traditional L or U-shape room. An additional section – often including an island – joins the work area to separate this from an eating area or dining room.
One of the most useful, well-established methods of designing your layout is known as the ‘work triangle’. This technique was established by efficiency experts in the 1950’s, who tracked the footsteps of the average housewife through her kitchen. They discovered that a well-trodden pathway existed between three points: the oven, sink and refrigerator. The cohesiveness of a kitchen layout was therefore largely determined by how efficiently one could move along the points of this triangle.
Kitchens have expanded and complexified since the 1950s, but the working triangle still provides an accessible starting point for designing your layout.
Just picture the triangle shape for a moment; you’ll soon see how flexible you can be within this shape. The sides of the triangle don’t need to be equal. However, there are some basic guidelines for ease of planning:
- The number of feet between fridge and sink, sink and oven, and oven and fridge would ideally add up to a figure between 3.5 – 7 metres. For example, fridge and sink could be 2 metres apart, oven and sink could be 3 metres apart, and oven and fridge could be 2 metres apart (adding up to 7 metres).
- Consider counterspace. This is important not only for design coherence but also safety. Your design should include liquid and heat resistant counterspace on both sides of the sink and the oven and counterspace on both sides or next to the open side of the fridge.
Additional Appliances and Additional Triangles
You might want some additional workstations, such as a second sink or worktop. These need to be incorporated into additional triangles; and care must be taken to ensure that these do not overlap or create opportunities for collisions. If you would like to include an island, ensure that there is a least four feet between it and the nearest appliance/counter; for economic use of energy, try and separate the oven from the fridge (space permitting).
Work Areas Within Your Layout
The kitchen now tends to be not only a space for food processes but also gathering and even entertaining. To begin with, however, it’s good to consider the essentials: designing three areas which support the basic food flow of preparation, cooking, and clearing away.
Food Preparation Area
There are a variety of elements that could be useful for this area, ranging from equipment to cookbooks. First of all, be sure to include a worktop that can be used for food preparation. It should ideally be a minimum of 610mm deep by 920mm inches wide, and situated next to the sink. Both your fridge and food storage cabinets/pantry should be situated nearby for accessibility; additionally, you might want to incorporate some base cabinets with large drawers or pull out shelves and a wine rack. Your equipment, chopping boards, cookbooks and a rubbish bin should also be within easy reach.
Your oven and hob will be situated in this area. Make sure there is adequate space between the oven and hob and on the either side of the hob; or, if these are adjoining, that there is a space of at least 350mm on the other side of the hob on which to place heated items. If you use the microwave regularly, you might want to place this above the oven; if used more sporadically – for reheating or making snacks – you can free up some space by placing it outside of the cooking area. The same also applies to other appliances such as a toaster or a deep fryer; if you use these regularly, reserve space for them within the cooking area. If not, place these outside the area for a clutter free zone. Remember that though you want everything within easy reach – from pots and pans to utensils and additional appliances – your priority is to ensure that you have enough space to work comfortably.
Clearing Away Area
Bellies are full but unfortunately it is now time to clear up! Your sink needs to be in this area; if possible, rubbish bins and recycling units will be housed within base cabinets nearby or below the sink. Don’t neglect worktop space here. Include countertop areas on either side of the sink; one for housing used utensils and another for draining and drying clean dishes. We’d recommend – space permitting – a minimum of 450mm one side and 600mm on the other. If you’re looking to include a dishwasher, place this next to the sink; think about unloading and loading when deciding which side of the sink would be most convenient. It’s a good idea to have kitchen wall cabinets and drawers within easy reach so that you can efficiently unload the dishwasher and put your crockery away with the minimum effort.
The Next Step
Now you’ve got a basic plan, you can begin thinking about the fun part: making the room functional and pretty! And the good news is that here at Solidwoodkitcehncabinets.co.uk we provide everything you need to whip your kitchen into shape, from fantastic units to kitchen worktops to accessories. All products are held in stock and are available for affordable prices on a swift delivery service.
For a first-hand view of how easy it is to turn out products into spectacular kitchens, please do swing by our Gloucestershire showroom; we have nine full kitchens on display incorporating a wide variety of cabinetry and worktops. We’re open from 9am-5pm, Monday – Friday, and 10am-2pm on Saturdays.
Or, if you’d like to read more about our products, please check out our blog. We’ll be adding more articles to this library in due course, too, so stay tuned!