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Planning a kitchen

Kitchen design ideas

By Liz Ransome-Croker

Article 1 of 9

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Kitchen design ideas

Follow our simple kitchen design ideas to transform your existing kitchen, or create a new kitchen that's stylish and practical.

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

Look at what you already have, and think about what you like and don’t like about it. It can help to draw up a list of what you want to keep, move or remove completely. 

If your kitchen layout already works well, you'll save money by keeping things in the same place, particularly your sink and appliances.

Read on for more on:

If you're planning on moving house soon, totally transforming your kitchen might not be worth it. Many buyers want to put their own stamp on a place and won't want to replace a new kitchen. Refreshing it with cheaper updates might be the best option. 

If you do want a brand new kitchen, visit our best kitchen brands guide to find out which are the top and bottom-rated companies. Customers have judged them on durability, customer service and value for money.

To find out which three brands earned Best Buys for their kitchen units when we assessed them in our lab, visit our best kitchen units page. One got an impressive lab score of 88% for one of its units.

Kitchen design planning 

The planning process is the key time to make big changes to your kitchen's design, so think carefully about how you use your current space and how you would like to use the new one.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How do you move around your kitchen? Elements that you often use at the same time, such as the fridge and work surface, should be close together. 
  • Where do you prepare food? Put your worktop space where you like to prepare food - possibly next to the hob. 
  • How much storage do you need? Do you need more than you currently have? Open shelving or big, deep cupboards?
  • Who will you be entertaining in your kitchen? You may want space for a table or a breakfast bar where people can sit and talk to you while you work. 
  • Which utensils and crockery do you use the most? Ensure they'll be easily accessible in your new kitchen design.
  • Do you have a lot of gadgets? If you want them on display you'll need lots of worktop space; if they'll be tucked away you'll need deep cupboards.
  • Do you have room for the large appliances you want? For example, range cookers or American-style fridge freezers will take up a lot of space.

Read our guide to planning your kitchen for plenty more advice on choosing your new kitchen.

Remember to consider your kitchen's constraints, such as its size and the positions of doors, windows and plug sockets. If you're not planning any structural work, you'll need to be realistic about what your space can accommodate.

Kitchen layouts 

Kitchen layouts tend to fall into six main categories:

  • L-shaped kitchens
  • U-shaped kitchens
  • G-shaped kitchens
  • Single-wall kitchens
  • Island kitchens
  • Galley kitchens

Flick through our gallery for visual examples of each type:

Kitchens pictured above are from B&Q, Wickes, Magnet, Ikea and Wren Kitchens (in order shown). 

Visit our guide to the best kitchen brands to see how these companies were rated for customer satisfaction and how their units did when we sent them to the lab.

Cheap kitchen ideas 

These simple changes can transform your current kitchen without breaking the bank.

Refresh paint 

Repainting your kitchen walls and/or kitchen unit doors is much cheaper than replacing the whole kitchen, and can completely transform its look and feel. Make sure you use suitable kitchen paint, which is more moisture-resistant, and prepare the surfaces as instructed. Alternatively, visit Which? Trusted Trader to find a vetted local trader to do the job for you.

Replace worktops and fronts 

Some builders' merchants, local kitchen manufacturers and specialist companies will supply new kitchen unit doors, drawer fronts and worktops, at a fraction of the price of an entirely new kitchen. For more pricing details on these updates, head to our page on kitchen costs

Add new lighting 

Updated 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 will add character. If you're thinking about moving your light fixtures, speak to an electrician first to find out what is possible.

Replace flooring

Vinyl flooring is generally the cheapest, starting at around £10 per square metre, while natural materials, such as stone and wood, are more expensive, with prices starting anywhere from £20 to £100 per square metre. If you're interested in a wooden floor, visit our guide to buying wood flooring.

Decorate with tiles 

Build a tiled splashback behind your cooker or add a strip of tiling behind work surfaces to transform your kitchen. You can buy cheap tiles for less than £15 per square metre.

Visit our kitchen costs guide to find out what you should expect to pay for a new kitchen, including price guides for some well-known kitchen brands, and to find tips from experts and thousands of kitchen owners on how to keep your costs down.