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Planning a kitchen

Kitchen design ideas

By Liz Ransome

Article 1 of 8

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Kitchen design ideas

Follow our simple kitchen design ideas to help transform your existing kitchen, or create a dream kitchen that's both beautiful and practical, without breaking the bank.

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 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 and won't want to change a new kitchen. In this case, making more superficial changes to refresh it might be best - see our advice on making cost-effective updates at the bottom of this page. 

If you do want a new kitchen, visit our best kitchen brands guide to find out which are the top and bottom-rated companies for quality of products and finish, customer service and value for money.

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?
  • 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 and dinnerware 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 may want an American-style fridge freezer instead of a slimmer fridge.

Thinking about how you use your current kitchen, and how you want to use the new one, will help ensure that your day-to-day needs aren't 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 B&Q, Wickes, Magnet, Ikeas and Wren Living (in order shown). 

See how these brands are rated for customer satisfaction in our guide to the best kitchen brands.

Cheap 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 much cheaper 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 as instructed for the type of surface. Alternatively visit Which? Trusted Trader 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 – some builders merchants, local kitchen manufacturers and specialist companies can supply new kitchen unit doors, drawer fronts and worktops, enabling you to refresh your kitchen at a fraction of the price of an entirely new one. Our page on kitchen costs gives more details on the costs involved.
  • 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 revatilise your kitchen 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. 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.

Visit our kitchen costs guide to find out what to expect to pay for a new kitchen and to see tips from experts and thousands of kitchen owners on how to keep costs down.