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Five kitchen design regrets to avoid

Don't get caught out by these common kitchen design mistakes

Kitchen with wooden kitchen island

Lack of storage and having used poor-quality materials are among peoples’ biggest kitchen design regrets. Avoid falling foul of these bug bears with our tips on planning the perfect kitchen. 

Everyone wants a stunning kitchen that can be the heart of their home and wow guests – yet more than a third of the thousands of people we asked had at least one regret about their kitchen design.

All of the gripes listed by kitchen owners are completely fixable – if you plan your kitchen design correctly. Read on to find out what the top five regrets were, and how to make sure you end up with your dream kitchen.

Get your kitchen design plans off to a flying start – find out how customers rated well-known brands, including B&Q, Benchmarx, Howdens, Ikea, Magnet and Wren Kitchens, in our kitchen company reviews.

These are the five most commonly mentioned kitchen design regrets – but the full list is even longer. Visit our guide to planning a kitchen to see all the regrets, as well as insider tips from kitchen owners.

Kitchen design – what to think about

Kitchens aren’t cheap, especially if you are getting a brand new one, so you’ll want to get the design right first time.

Even if you’re working to a tight budget, or have space constraints, there are tactics you can use to get a kitchen design you’re happy with. The key thing is being clear on how you will use your kitchen before you start designing.

Kitchen quality

Poor quality was kitchen owners’ single biggest regret in our survey, so it’s worth giving it some thought up front.

Many kitchens are made from MDF and chipboard, although you can get solid wood cabinets, such as oak and beech. When we asked kitchen owners about the durability and quality of their kitchen, solid oak came out top.

It’s not just about the materials though – when we’ve spoken to experts, they’ve stressed that the construction of the kitchen units is just as important.

Use our guide on kitchen units, doors and worktops to help you strike the balance between price and quality – it includes kitchen owners’ ratings of popular materials, expert advice, and our lab test results of kitchen cabinets from well-known brands.

Modern kitchen with lots of storage and central breakfast bar

Layout and storage

Many of the other regrets in our survey revolve around two key aspects of kitchen design – layout and storage. Lack of drawers, worktop space and poor positioning of appliances all featured. Mitigate these risks by thinking about how much and what you need to store as well as how you will use the space.

There are a number of common kitchen layouts – such as L-shape, galley and U-shape. In some cases, the shape and size of your kitchen will limit your options. Either way, try to visualise or draw out on paper how different configurations mean you’ll use the space. Make sure you plan in the location of key appliances.

If you have the room, use scrap paper to lay out ‘to-scale’ sections of your potential kitchen and work out whether the right things are in the right places.

Think too about which kitchen gadgets you use regularly and which you are happy to tuck deep into a cupboard. This will affect what type of storage will work for your needs (and preferences) – open shelves, pan drawers or wall cupboards, say. Would a mix work best? This will have a knock on affect on where you are able to position your appliances, sink and other regularly used elements.

Our kitchen design ideas page details questions you should ask yourself from the outset, as well as talk you through the various kitchen layouts.

Planning your kitchen

Once you have decided on the best layout, draw up a detailed plan. Using graph paper can help with precision – use metric measurements as this is what kitchen manufacturers use.

Add in exact measurements for all features that are hard (or impossible) to move – such as windows, doors, boilers and radiators. Include the distance from the floor and ceiling as well as their size and position.

If you won’t be moving electrical sockets and water/waste pipes, add these in too. Keeping these the same will cut costs, but moving them could free up space, so weight up the cost verses benefit. 

Kitchen plan

When spacing things out, make sure you include:

  • A 40cm clearance between an open kitchen door and the nearest opposite unit.
  • At least 120cm between parallel runs of kitchen units.
  • At least 40cm between the worktop and wall-mounted cupboards.

Think about the depth of units too. Standard 60cm-deep units will be a tight squeeze if your kitchen is less than 180cm wide from one wall to the other. Solve this by looking for slimmer, 50cm-deep units.

Visit our kitchen planning page for full details of how to measure up a kitchen, including typical cupboard and appliance measurements.

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