London’s Small Kitchen Design Experts
LWK Kitchens are expert in the design of small or compact kitchens. As a London-centric company we are often challenged to create appealing yet fully functional kitchen designs suitable for the restricted spaces common to many London properties. Our clients quite rightly wish to maximise use and enjoyment of their kitchens, but are often frustrated that some kitchen designers do not possess the skills necessary to produce tailored designs that overcome the confines of compact kitchens.
Accommodating challenging wall angles
For any kitchen design it can be a challenge to effectually accommodate an awkward room shape or wall angle. However, for a small kitchen where space is at a premium it is essential that such angles don’t compromise the storage or worktop surface area available in the design. Firstly, these angles must be measured accurately; LWK Kitchens use a combination of digital angle measuring and theodolite measuring techniques depending on the complexity of the room shape. Once we have accurate floor plans we can produce precision drawings which the factory in Germany use to produce angled units, reduced depth units, variable angled posts, and so forth. Through such means we are able to overcome the challenges of difficult room angles and offer a unique, space-maximising design.
We are frequently faced with the task of maximizing storage and counter-space whilst still creating clean uncluttered designs. There are a multitude of design options and techniques available that work brilliantly to maximise space, and many of which have been specifically designed for small kitchens. Such design ideas are useable within all of our available kitchen range options and a number of which are detailed for our clients benefit as follows:
Colour For Small and Compact Kitchens
Lighter colours are particularly suited to smaller kitchens as they help make a room look larger. However, there is no need to fear this making your room look too stark – we have an extensive colour palette containing subtle tones such as Cashmere and antique white, and of course they can also be combined in two-tone colour schemes. The obvious choice of door finish is gloss, which reflects light and brightens a small kitchen; however we have found that our satin lacquer finishes have proved extremely popular with clients who do not want gloss finishes but are wary of the light absorbing characteristics of matt kitchen finishes.
Why Do Lighter Colours Reflect Light?
Choosing colours that will help reflect light within a room is important. Most surfaces will reflect light as it falls on them but how well this happens depends on the colour, composition and texture of a surface. Without getting too technical, light is an electromagnetic wave and when it hits a transparent substance it is reflected back. The more opaque a surface the less well the light wave is able to do this, for example, a black, matt surface does not reflect light well but instead the light wave’s energy is absorbed by the atoms of which the substance is composed, making them vibrate. In turn this vibration generates heat and this is why dark surfaces get warm if exposed to sunshine. It also verifies that dark colours are much less suitable for small kitchens because by absorbing rather than reflecting the light they tend to make a room feel smaller. In respect of other colours, part of the electromagnetic wave’s energy is absorbed within a material when it hits it but some is reflected back; how much depends on the colour tone and texture. The lighter the colour and the smoother it is, the more light will be reflected back. This explains why a shiny white gloss would be the best option for enhancing the feeling of space within a compact kitchen.
Maximising Natural Light Within Small Kitchen Spaces
Whilst appropriate use of colour can make a room appear larger there is nothing more effective for this than the introduction of natural light itself. Windows, skylights, glass panels or a glazed ceiling may allow natural light to flood a room creating a spacious and airy feel. If looking to implement any form of glazing then triple glazing would be the recommended option as it offers both improved thermal and sound insulation. Glazing is not always feasible within a kitchen so an alternative that still works to create a more spacious feel is white gloss reflective paint for the ceiling; this works especially well for a low ceiling as it helps effect an illusion of height. A gloss paint finish on ceilings can be nicely complimented with hidden uplighters above wall or tall cupboards, bathing the room in soft, indirect light.
Adding Mirrors Within Small and Compact Kitchen Spaces
Mirrors reflect light and in doing so effectively add a sense of space to a room, making it feel larger. And mirrored finishes also create a tremendous perception of depth; doubling the depth of the appearance of a work surface for example. We have a stylish selection of mirrored glass available including plain, bronzed and smoked mirror, as well as our cracked mirrored glass option which is on display in our Canary Wharf kitchen showroom. The latter offers a very modern and distinctive twist as an alternative to the more conventional splashback options.
Mirrored glass is a beautiful addition within a kitchen design but if incorporating this behind a hob then only toughened mirrored glass should be used as the toughening process ensures the glass withstands any heat exposure without damaging the glass.
Tall units and Extra Wall Units For Small Kitchen Spaces
Tall wall units are excellent for maximising on otherwise unused space at upper levels of a kitchen. These units are ideal for storing household items that are infrequently used, or that need putting out of reach of children as a safety precaution. The maximum height option for one of LWK Kitchens tall units is 910mm but if space permits they can also be stacked one on top of another. For the handless system this ‘doubling up’ is only possible with push-to-open catches, though in our experience this proves to be an advantage as too many handles on show can easily make the kitchen too cluttered or ‘busy.’ Our tallest units measure 2360mm from the floor (including plinth). Should room space permit this height can be added to from a selection of wall units, ranging up to 910mm in size, for a total maximum height of 3270mm. At this height, the units are clearly out of reach, but whilst not recommended for storing everyday items, they are still easily accessible via store-away stool or ladder systems.
Space Maximising Solutions for Small Kitchens
Research by Blum GmbH (a manufacturer of kitchen storage technology) concluded that the useable space in a kitchen could be increased by 55% with effective integration of suitable storage solutions. LWK Kitchens manufacturing partner have one of the most expansive catalogues of storage solutions available from any kitchen manufacturer. We offer tall pull-out larders that slide out on beautifully engineered, damped supports, and then rotate outwards through ninety degrees for easy access to their voluminous shelving. Le Mans Corner units are precisely shaped to allow their trays to glide smoothly around a corner and fully extend outwards, vastly increasing the use of existing space within a deep cabinet that would be otherwise unreachable; effectively they bring their contents to you! Carousels perform a similar function and furthermore base units containing tables that fold out and upwards create additional workspace, particularly useful for appliances such as blenders or bread-makers. This technology greatly enhances the usability of small kitchens, and helps keep worktops clear and uncluttered.
Appliances For Small Kitchens
Integrating kitchen appliances is one of the best ways to physically maximise on limited room space as integration neatly houses appliances out of sight, out of the way, or both. Rather than freestanding fridges, freezers or microwaves, these modern and highly functional appliances may be built seamlessly into the furniture units. This allows more free space in the kitchen and in so-doing creates a cleaner, tidier look. Similarly extractors can be integrated into cupboards without filling them, leaving further storage room. We can also specify sinks fitted with internal chopping boards which either pull or fold out when needed to extend the available work space.
LWK Kitchens have the experience to plan and specify appliances that will enhance any compact kitchen design. We are an official displaying dealer for Miele, Neff and Siemens, and we are also able to source a wide range of other appliances too. From Neff’s ‘Slide and Hide oven to microwave ovens designed to fit within wall units, we can help our clients choose appliances best suited for them, and for the layout, shape and size of their kitchen.
LWK Kitchens can also supply a range of compact appliances that have been specifically designed for small kitchens including dishwashers, ovens, freezers and washing machines. Dishwashers can be scaled down from the standard appliance size of 600mm to a slimmer 450mm. Multi-function appliances are great for small kitchens as they reduce the number of appliances required, such as a combined washer/dryer which would leave a separate dryer entirely redundant and devoid of purpose. Similarly a fridge with a built-in freezer draw might suffice over accommodating a separate freezer and furthermore a multi-function oven featuring oven, grill and microwave would leave no further requirement for a separate microwave.
Other substitutions might include a water filtered tap, which eliminates the need for filtering your own water. This has the added benefit of being instantaneous, as would a boiling-water tap in place of a kettle, providing instant hot water and extra counter space.
Hanging Rail Solutions For Small Kitchens
With limited space within a small kitchen it is advisable to seek advice for the best possible storage options, particularly for kitchen appliances and utensils to ensure they are easily accessible without taking up otherwise valuable kitchen space unnecessarily.
There are a wide variety of possibilities for this including a range of magnetic storage solutions. A magnetic knife rack fixed to the wall area beneath high wall cabinets saves on draw or counter space. Similarly magnetic spice rack sets can be adhered to the wall and in doing so free up cupboards for other usage. A flat based extractor hood can double up as the perfect shelving for cookbooks, and bulky items like pots and pans can be neatly stored courtesy of hooked hanging rails or wire racks.
Make Use of Plinth Within a Small Kitchen Design
Plinth is used within a kitchen to fill the gap that would otherwise show between the floor and the base of a unit. Many people view this as a ‘waste of space’ and so aim to reduce the height of the plinth as much as they can but an alternative option for maximising on this space would be to integrate plinth draws. These simply offer further low level storage space for household items, such as a foldaway stool required for occasional access to high level cupboards.
Plinth might also be used to house low level lighting. Plinth lighting is typically installed to help create a warm and inviting ambience, and can be fitted in a range of colours. Especially for a kitchen with limited space, the right placing can contribute to the impression of a larger room.