We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

30 June 2021

Kitchen ideas

Follow our simple kitchen design ideas to transform your existing kitchen or create a new kitchen that's stylish and practical.
Liz Ransome-Croker
Kitchen7 479003

Transforming your kitchen is an exciting venture, but it can be tricky to know where to start. Our kitchen design ideas will help you to create the kitchen of your dreams, no matter what your budget.

From choosing the right kitchen layout to perfecting the lighting, read on below for kitchen design ideas to inspire you. 

Before you buy - or even start the process - take a look at our guide to the best kitchen brands 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 layout ideas

Before you start, think about the layout of your kitchen. 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:

Kitchen layouts gallery

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at

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

Once you have a clearer idea of what you want, head over to our kitchen planning guide for all you need to know about getting the details right - and avoiding common mistakes.

You can also 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.

Kitchen islands

Often, when people think about their ultimate kitchen, they picture a lavish kitchen island. Kitchen islands come in many shapes and sizes - and fulfil different purposes. They are:

  • ideal for additional storage and can encompass a variety of storage options
  • a great way to create a breakfast bar or seating in your kitchen
  • perfect for making a statement or focal point in your kitchen
  • an easy way to create more more worksurface space
  • useful for housing kitchen essentials, such as a hob
  • a good way to 'zone' your kitchen if your home is open-plan.

Think about how you are going to use it in relation to the rest of your kitchen. What do you want it for? How will it affect the workings of the rest of your kitchen? Once you know that, you can be clearer on what size and type to get, as well as how to position it.

Islands can be as big as you want, but if you're tight on space, there are also slimline versions. You can also get one on wheels so that it can be moved out of the way when needed - more on this below.

Another way to save space is to get a peninsula instead. This is essentially where units carry on from your current kitchen and jut out into the room (you can see an example in the gallery below).

Whatever you do, one key thing to keep in mind is how much space it will take up and what useable space you will have around it. Think about the 'kitchen triangle' - it helps you plot out the distance you need to leave between different parts in your kitchen. 

You can find out more about this and working an island into your design on our kitchen planning page. 

Kitchen island ideas

Our gallery includes a range of kitchen ideal ideas - from kitchen islands with seating to statement islands - to help get you thinking about what you want.

Kitchen island ideas

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at

Freestanding kitchen island

A freestanding kitchen island is exactly what it sounds like - an island that isn't fixed into position (you can see a couple of examples in the gallery above). 

They usually have legs - lifting it just off the floor or even creating more of a table, depending on what you opt for - and come in the range of sizes, from compact to as big as any other type of island. These types of islands don't usually house appliances or sinks, so take this into consideration.

Freestanding islands add a different feel to the space, showing off the floor and making it feel more open. They also allow you to mix and match different styles and play around with storage options.

You can also get ones on wheels, which means you can easily move it around your kitchen, or even take it into another room, for example where you serve your food. To make them lighter, most come with open shelves as opposed to cupboards. 

If you're keen on this type, make sure you buy one that has locks on the wheels so that it will stay in place when needed. Also think about where you will move it to - is there actually space in your kitchen to take it out of its position?

Why not consider upcycling too - use a sideboard or console table as a freestanding island? Just make sure it's finished so that it doesn't get damaged by water.

Learn more about freestanding kitchens as a whole - not just islands - on our kitchen planning page and visit our small kitchen ideas page for tips on how to make the most of a small space.

Kitchen furniture

White freestanding kitchen shelving and cupboard units

Don't be limited in your kitchen plan by only looking at standard kitchen cupboards and shelves - there are lots of other options. Why not consider:

  • freestanding shelves or cupboards - or a combination of the two, like in the image above
  • a dresser - these are typically country-style, but you can get modern versions
  • a sideboard, as an island or along a wall to create additional storage  
  • a table - either a console or normal-sized one
  • a trolley, ideally on wheels so that it can be moved?

These can open up your storage options from cupboards with simple shelves or drawers and can be utilised in a number of different ways - as a kitchen larder, to display china or glassware, as a wine rack, to hide away appliances that you don't want to have built in or to create another worksurface. 

They can also be cheaper too, especially if you revamp an old piece of furniture - scroll down for more ideas on cheap kitchen ideas.

Visit our page on kitchen planning for more on freestanding kitchens and storage ideas. 

Kitchen benches

A kitchen bench is the perfect way to create a social space. Using one at a table will enable you to fit more people around it, while a bench running along a wall will give guests or the family somewhere to sit whilst you're cooking.

A fitted bench seat is the ultimate way to maximise space, especially if it has storage built-in too. You can add one to a corner - and use it as an eating space too if you include a table - or, if you have a bay window, add it there. 

If you're looking for a reliable carpenter to help you create something bespoke for your space, use Which? Trusted Traders. All our traders have been through our rigorous checks by experts from Trading Standards.

Kitchen décor ideas

Whether you want to create a sleek, modern look, a country farmhouse kitchen or be daring and design something unique, these ideas will get you started.

Visit our dedicated pages on country kitchens and modern kitchens for more specific ideas. 

Kitchen decor

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at

Open-plan kitchen

An open-plan design works perfectly for our modern lifestyles. But there are some considerations you need to keep in mind.

  • Think about smells and noises. An efficient cooking hood will help, as well as having good ventilation in the room. If you're buying new appliances, opt for a self-cleaning oven to help rid them of smells, and look for appliances that have rated higher in our reviews for being quieter. Put washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers behind doors (either integrated or in a cupboard that is big enough), or even in another room, if you can.
  • Use the décor to create zones to denote where your kitchen ends and living room or dining room starts. You could do this with furniture, flooring, lighting or even paint colours.
  • Screens, curtains or sliding doors are a great way to temporarily close off an area without having them permanently divided.
  • Make sure it will work for your lifestyle. Do you want to be able to watch the TV in the living room from the kitchen, for example? Do you need to keep an eye on the kids playing while you're cooking? Will it be easy to carry and serve food to the dining area from the kitchen? Thinking about how you live your life will help to make these spaces work best for you and flow seamlessly.
  • If done correctly, an open-plan space can give you and guests great views all through or across the house, and into your garden. Also think about connecting the outside with the inside as well, for example with glass doors or oversized windows.
  • It's easy to inadvertently create 'dead' areas between the rooms. Eek every inch of use out of them by thinking about the spaces individually and how you could use or connect them to the surrounding rooms. Having furniture built-in made for to your requirements might be the ideal way to do this, particularly if your open-plan home is small.
  • Check your open-plan space will meet building regulations when it comes to fire safety. We'd recommend speaking to a builder or kitchen specialist for advice. ilder

Kitchen diner ideas

So many kitchens now include the ability to dine within them. Whether your kitchen is small or your opting for an open-plan design, here are a few tips to marry kitchen and dining in one.

  • Use a kitchen island or peninsula with seating to enable you to eat in your kitchen. You, your family or guests will need to be comfortable with high seats or stools though.
  • An extendable table will enable you to cater for larger parties or gatherings but not take up too much space day-to-day.
  • Placing a table in a corner, which you can leave there or pull out when needed if you have the space, will use an areas that might otherwise be a wasted. 
  • If you're short on space, a pull-down or fold-away kitchen table could be a good option.
  • Bench seating, as mentioned above, can enable to you seat more guests.
  • A round table, particularly a small one, can be a good space-saver. You can also get ones where the chairs fit around the curve and therefore completely underneath the table.
  • Even if you don't have a round table, make sure the chairs won't stick out into the room and cause an obstruction when they're not in use.

Luxury kitchens on a budget

Whether you have the space and money to splash out on a lavish kitchen, or are on a tight budget, here are a range of ways you can add a feeling of luxury to a kitchen, even inexpensively.

  • A kitchen island instantly indicates opulence, especially if it's super sized. If you can't go big, a slim version will still add luxury. With either option, add a wine cooler for a chic touch.
  • Materials make all the difference in a kitchen - marble, granite and wood, in particular, give a nod to high-end design. If these are out of your price range, there are a lot of laminates that do a good job of mirroring the real thing.
  • Paint is an easy and cheap way to add impact to your kitchen. Deep shades and rich tones are particularly luxurious. Be bold and paint the entire room, or choose specific areas to draw the eye, such as behind your cooker. 
  • Touches of gold, such taps, accessories or cupboard handles, add instant luxury.
  • Up-spec your appliances to create the ultimate kitchen. Interestingly, we've found a lot of Best Buys that will help you cook like a chef, but won't cost the earth. Head to our kitchen appliances section for more.
  • A bespoke kitchen from a specialist will ensure your kitchen is one of a king. If that is too pricey for you, consider using a carpenter to add some bespoke touches.
  • A double sink is practical and luxurious. Don't forget the taps - there are a lot of designer options out there, some of which that aren't as expensive as you might think. 
  • Use statement lighting to to make your kitchen distinctive - see below for more ideas.
  • If you can, go for high-end tiles and splashbacks for instant glamour. If your budget is tight, create feature areas and zones with small collections of tiles, rather than covering the entire room.
  • If you have any seating in your kitchen, add velvets, silks and satins in rich colours for pure oppulence.
  • The same applies to flooring. A bold or distinctive floor will transform the look of your kitchen. 

Kitchen colour ideas

Take a look at these colourful kitchens to get some ideas for how to add a splash of colour to your kitchen.

Kitchen colour schemes

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at

Kitchen wallpaper

Unlike any other room in the house, your kitchen wallpaper will need to withstand splashes from water or cooking. Kitchen-specific wallpapers have a vinyl or plastic coating, which will stop them from absorbing moisture and make them wipeable so that you can remove any spills. 

However, despite being more robust, we wouldn't recommend using them as a splashback or near where you cook and wash up, unless it's protected behind clear plastic, which could be another option.

The rest is all down to style. If you feel brave, don't hold back. Go for a bold design and colours, and don't stick to just adding it to a feature wall. 

Before hanging your chosen wallpaper, make sure your kitchen is dry, otherwise you may have problems with peeling from the get go. Check you have the right glue - it differs depending on what the wallpaper is made of - a brush, wallpaper table and good blade knife. Also make sure you check how much glue to apply as this varies too.

Kitchen wall décor

Kitchen walls don't just have to be covered in wallpaper or paint - what about stickers, murals, prints and art?

There is a huge range of stickers available - from lyrical phrases to whole motifs - and they tend to be easy to apply once you have cleaned the surface. Make sure you choose one that will be ok to use in a kitchen - you don't want it peeling off not long after you attach it.

Art is a great way to decorate your kitchen too. You can buy prints to put into photo frames or get ones that are printed onto canvas. You can also do the same with photos, which will give your kitchen the homely touch. 

Lastly, what about painting a mural? You can find a design online to copy, or create your own for something truly unique. If you're not confident enough to do it yourself, there are plenty of artists that can paint something spectacular and one-off for you.

Kitchen paint

Whether you have lots to spend on your kitchen or are on a shoestring budget, paint is a great way to transform the space and inject your personality. 

However, you need to make sure you choose one that is moisture resistant, durable and wipe clean, especially if you have children. We'd recommend looking for a kitchen-specific paint that should do all of these jobs. 

If it is also said to be grease and stain proof, it should help minimise any lasting damage from wear and tear.

Some paints are claimed to be mildew and mould resistant, with guarantees and the length of time this will last for - the longer the better. But specialist paints like this are often limited in the colour palates available. 

You could also use a semi-gloss or high-gloss paint as these will still repel moisture and enable you to wipe away any mould that appears. However, these kind of paints tend to be more suited to small areas, such as window and door frames, as opposed to entire walls.

Other things to watch out for are:

  • drying time so that you're aware of how long it will take for your bathroom to be usable
  • how much coverage a tin will give you - consider whether you'll need more than one coat, say to cover something up or ensure a colour is rich
  • it's best not to use paint with high levels of VOC if you have children, pets or can't ventilate the room well
  • check whether you will need to use a primer beforehand or whether you can paint straight onto the surface, once it's clean. 

See the best DIY shops as rated by customers. 

Kitchen lights

The lighting in your kitchen is as important as your worktop or cabinets - it can make a scheme and elevate it to the next level. 

Take a look at these lighting ideas for inspiration to get you thinking about your own kitchen design.

Kitchen lighting ideas

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at

Cheap kitchen ideas

If you're on a tight budget, take a look at these tips to help you transform your current kitchen without breaking the bank.

Stick to the existing layout

Keeping electrics and plumbing in the same places helps to keep costs down, as it’ll reduce the need to hire specialist contractors. Even if you need to get a professional to install new appliances, it will take less time and money if they’re being wired into the same spot.

Look for ex-display kitchens

You may be able to pick up an ex-display or even a second-hand kitchen for significantly less than a brand new one. As well as saving you money, it's a sustainable option as it could also prevent the kitchen from ending up in landfill. 

Visit our page on kitchen sales for advice on buying second-hand and avoiding being sucked in by sales tactics.

Shop around for installation services

You may also be able to save on installation costs by finding your own kitchen fitter, rather than using the retailer's own service.

Always get at least three quotes to compare and ask for a total price for the job including all fittings and fixtures, rather than a rate per day. With a fixed cost for the whole project, there are less likely to be nasty surprises.

Find a kitchen fitter near you by using our Which? Trusted Traders service. All traders displaying our logo have been through our vigorous checks.

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.

Steer clear of fixtures that are too different from those you already have. For example, handleless doors may not be compatible with your cabinets, because they operate on a runner.

Try a fresh lick of 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 Traders to find a vetted local trader to do the job for you.

Redecorate with new lighting, flooring or tiles

Updated lighting, your flooring or tiles can change the feel of your kitchen, especially if it’s a small room. 

Vinyl flooring is generally the cheapest type, starting at around £10 per square metre. Ceramic tiles are generally cheaper to buy and have fitted than porcelain or stone. You can buy cheap tiles for less than £10 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.