Kitchen Design: The Devil is in the Detail
When designing your dream kitchen there is a mass of options and factors to remember and include but this makes it easy to overlook seemingly minor kitchen details. Whilst they may appear less important or even unnecessary, it is awareness of these ‘smaller’ kitchen planning technical details that can save complications at a later stage of your project, or even within years to come.So here we have compiled a list of 7 technical kitchen details to include, or at least be aware of, during your kitchen planning stage.
1) Kitchen planning technical detail: Locating switches thoughtfully
Fixed appliances such as washing machines or ovens have hard to reach sockets so as a safety precaution there needs to be the means for isolating the power source. This is achieved via an easy access switched socket, usually above worktop height. Safety regulations state that ovens should have an isolation switch within 2 metres of the appliance, although not above a hob. Sockets above worktop height need to be at least 1 metre from any sink and it is advisable (but not essential) for them to be switched. Apart from this the location of your kitchen sockets is entirely up to you but best determined in respect of the layout of your kitchen and intentions for use. For example, if you have earmarked surface space for a toaster or freestanding microwave then locate your sockets close by so that each can be easily plugged in.
A good solution for sockets are cut-out sockets for glass or pop-up sockets. These retract when not in use and so won’t interrupt the streamlined appearance of your kitchen. They also free up more space on your work surface area.
2)Kitchen planning technical detail: Accessible shut off valves on hot/cot feeds
Most modern buildings have shut off valves on the feeds to their kitchen and
bathroom but the same is not true for older houses. For any new kitchen design it is worth checking and incorporating accessible shut off valves into the intended plumbing configurations. Though only a small addition, the shut off valves enable isolation of individual components such as taps or a washing machine. In the event of a leak or other plumbing emergency you can then cut off the water supply only to the affected appliance rather than to the whole house. Should the problem takes a while to fix, or require a plumber, this means household members won’t be left without water whilst waiting for the repair to be carried out (potentially saving a lot of earache too!)
3) Kitchen planning technical detail: Low-iron glass splashbacks
It important to choose the right quality of glass for the desired effect within your home as different glass compositions and thicknesses can very much affect its appearance. Glass contains fragments of iron within its makeup and the greater the quantity of iron, and the thicker the glass, the more it starts to exude a greenish tint. To avoid this it is better to opt for low-iron glass. As its name suggests low-iron glass contains a lower quantity of iron within. This eliminates the green tinge and instead produces a superior, clear and faultless finish with an increased capacity for light reflection. This is why clear glass is a highly desirable option for kitchens. Low iron glass is also best used for coloured splashback options as it conveys the colour more clearly. This is especially important for bold and vibrant colours so as not to diminish them. A full list of available glass colour choices can be found within the RAL colour chart.
4) Kitchen planning technical detail: Polishing the leading edge of the underside of the worktop
For any worktop produced from natural stone or composite quartz it is advisable that the leading edge of the underside of the worktop (overhanging the units) is polished along with the rest of the worktop. This region should be treated to the same standard to give the same smooth finish. It should be, but is sometimes missed. Not polishing this area means it is less hygienic and can create an environment in which bacteria and germs can thrive.
5) Kitchen planning technical detail: Fitting a seal on the underside of the plinth
A small but effective addition for any kitchen is to fit a seal on the underside of each run of plinth. This creates a watertight seal between the bottom edge of the plinth and the flooring. This kitchen planning technical detail is not essential but protects the kitchen units from any liquid spills seeping underneath. Similarly plinth seals prevents dirt, grease and food particles from gathering under there, all of which are unhygienic and difficult to clean out. A plinth seal also benefits an uneven floor by smoothing out its appearance for a more balanced effect.
6) Kitchen planning technical detail: Specify the correct ducting size for extraction
Deciding on the most suitable form of removing steam and cooking odours from your new kitchen is a key decision, whether it be extraction or recirculation. Where possible extraction is the preferred means; it is most efficient although only if you acquire the right ducting to work with your choice of extractor. Good quality ducting that fits correctly will give you a quieter, odour free kitchen and is cheaper. It is less expensive because it is more energy efficient and reduces the likelihood of repair or maintenance costs further down the line.
If you have already chosen your intended model of extractor then from its specification you can determine the diameter of the ducting outlet and what size ducting you need to buy. This is typically one of 3 sizes: 100mm, 125mm, or 150mm. It is worth noting that the larger the ducting the better so buying a size bigger is fine. Alternatively buying a size too small is inadvisable and may cause problems in the future.
A round duct is the best shape to choose as the extracted air flows more easily through a circular form than a rectangular duct. If round is not possible for the space available, then flat panel ducting can prove a good alternative. Similarly a rigid duct is a better option than a flexible hose. In all cases establishing the shortest route to the outside and with as few bends as possible will help maximise performance.
7) Kitchen planning technical detail: Ensure under-counter appliances can be removed
An essential requirement for under-counter appliances such as fridges and freezers is that they can be removed. This sounds obvious but an easy mistake to make is to fit a fridge (or other appliance) with minimal or no room between the top of the fridge and the worktop. It is only a problem if you choose to tile your floor, including the area immediately in front of the appliances. In so doing the available space is reduced to the extent that the appliances are trapped under the counter and cannot be taken back out. During planning you should ensure enough space remains for the appliances to be extracted. Alternatively a small wooden plinth may be fitted for the appliance to sit upon, providing leverage for it to be removed as and when needed: