Best kitchen brands: Planning a kitchen Kitchen design ideas

Kitchen

Think about how you will use your new kitchen before you plan the design

Before you start planning a new kitchen, the first thing you need to decide is whether you want to update your current kitchen or start totally afresh.

Look at what you already have, what you like and don’t like, and what you want to remove, move or keep. If the kitchen layout works, only change it if you can see it will bring a real, tangible benefit.

Bear in mind that if you're planning on moving, totally updating your kitchen might not add value; many buyers want to put their own stamp on a place so won't want to have to change a new kitchen. In this case, making more superficial changes to refresh it might be best - see our tips at the bottom of the page for making cost-effective updates to kitchens.

If you do want a new kitchen, go to best kitchen brands to find out the top and bottom-rated brands.

Kitchen design ideas

If you want an entirely new kitchen, think about the layout and how you use your current kitchen. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What elements do you want to be close to together, such as the fridge and cooking station, so you don't have to make too many trips around the kitchen? 
  • Where will you want most worktop space? Next to the hob and oven , perhaps?
  • How much storage do you need? Think about whether you need more than you currently have and what you need to store.
  • Do you use your kitchen for dinner parties or do you have kids to accommodate? Do you therefore need space for a table or for someone to sit to talk to you while you cook? 
  • Where do you want to keep the utensils, dinnerware etc that you use most?
  • Do you have a lot of gadgets, and will you want these out so you can use them quickly or stored away?
  • What appliances do you want, and will there be room for them? For example, you might want an American-style fridge freezer instead of a slimmer fridge?

Thinking about how you use your current kitchen now, and how you want to use the new one, will help ensure that your day-to-day needs will not get overlooked in the planning process.

You then need to look at the constraints in your kitchen, such as size and the positions of doors, windows and sockets. Our guide to planning your kitchen offers more advice on choosing your new kitchen, but in the meantime here are some of the most common kitchen layouts:

Kitchens pictured above are from Homebase, Second Nature, John Lewis of Hungerford, DIY Kitchens, Wren Kitchens and John Lewis Kitchens. See how we rated some of these brands in our guide to the best kitchen brands.

Budget kitchen ideas

If your budget is tight and you don’t need an entirely new kitchen, there are simple changes you can make that will transform your current kitchen without costing too much.

  • Paint – refreshing your walls or kitchen doors with a lick of paint is less expensive than replacing the whole kitchen, and a great way to add colour. You can do this yourself, although make sure you use oil-based or latex (water-based) paint and prepare the surfaces, such as with a primer, as instructed for the type of surface. Alternatively visit Which? Local for a recommended tradesperson to do the job for you.
  • Create a feature wall – this is an ideal way to add character to your kitchen and make a statement. Use colourful or patterned wallpaper (specially designed for kitchens), tiles, or a distinctive splashback to create a focal point.
  • Update worktops and doors – there are builders merchants, local kitchen manufacturers and specialist companies that just supply new kitchen unit doors, drawer fronts and worktops, refreshing your kitchen but at a fraction of the price of an entirely new one. Doors can cost upwards of £100, but you can get them for as little as £10, and worktops start at around £50. First consider the style you want to emulate, then choose from there. Take a look at our modern kitchen and country kitchen galleries for ideas on the look you want to create.
  • Lighting – careful lighting can change the feel of your kitchen, especially if it’s a small room. Spotlights or lights under the counter can add a modern touch, while pendant lights bring a country element to a kitchen. If you're rearranging your lights, as opposed to just getting new shades, speak to an electrician first to find out what is possible.
  • Flooring – if your floor is old, replacing it can lift your kitchen. Again, your choice of flooring can affect the feel of the room. Vinyl flooring is generally the cheapest, starting at around £10 per square metre, with natural materials such as stone and wood being more expensive - anything from £20 to £100 as starting prices. If you're interested in a wooden floor, see our guide to buying wood flooring.
  • Tiles - inexpensive tiles as a splashback behind the cooker or around the entire kitchen could lift an old look. Be savvy with price - you can get cheap tiles for less than £15 per square metre, and using bold or colourful ones sparingly, say running alongside plain white ones, will create a striking look.

To keep costs down, see our kitchen costs guide for tips.

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