The decoration, flooring and lighting you choose will have the greatest impact on a kitchen’s overall visual effect , but these are covered in other sections. Here we want to look at some of the simple features which can be incorporated into the furniture design to lift your finished kitchen well above the average. Some of these ideas will only be workable where there is enough space, but others can be used in any kitchen to great effect.
Less is more.
Before looking at some of the design ideas in detail please remember that it is also very easy to overdo things. To many features or quirky ideas will over-complicate your kitchen and make a real dogs-dinner of it. So proceed with caution, these are a series of ideas, not to be used all together!
Break up the lines.
Some architects and designers love straight uninterrupted lines, and in the appropriate style these can be spectacular, but usually this theme works best with modern styles in the kitchen. With a more traditional or a modern classic style straight lines can look boring and uninteresting. There are many ways that these straight lines can be broken to give the design a real lift by adding interest.
Vary the heights.
Wall cupboards do not have to all be the same height. There is nothing wrong with using different sizes of cupboard, or even same size units fitted at different heights. By staggering the height of wall cupboards you can add some variety and interest to a section of your kitchen.
It is also possible to vary worktop heights. This is most often seen at a cooking area where the hob is mounted on a slightly lower section of cabinets. For the best effect the lowered section must be wider than the hob, both for aesthetics and for the practicalities of allowing for pan handles. Think carefully about all the implications of this technique, particularly if there are tall people in the household.
Worksurface heights can also vary if you want to use a breakfast bar or a table section, where the eating/bar section can be lower or higher than the main midi unitsworksurface. Remember to think about how you will sit there to eat.
Consider using tall and midi size units to create three base cupboard heights rather than the usual two.
Create a break-front.
If you have a long section of worksurface it can be made more interesting by pulling some of the units forward. This can be achieved by using a section of worktop which is deeper than standard (most laminates are available 600, 650 &900mm deep), or by creating a false wall behind the pulled out section. Angled units or shelf features can be used either side to soften the worktop line. Again this feature is most often used at the hob or cooker area, but it could be anywhere.
The break front can be combined with a drop-level hob area, but using both is not recommended for a small kitchen.
Colour and style changes.
This first idea is not well suited to a traditional style kitchen.
Rather than have all the doors in the same finish, interest can be added by changing the colour of some. Generally this works best of the basic door style stays the same, just the colour or finish changes. The resulting strip of contrast can really bring your design alive. The change of colour can be continued on the wall cupboards also, but remember, less is more.
Glass doors can have a similar effect, more striking when illuminated, and when used on the wall cupboards, are quite in keeping with a traditional theme. Glass doors can also be used on base units, and in a more contemporary setting, frosted glass works well. Again illumination can really help.contrasting door colours
Frosted glass drawer fronts are a more subtle alternative if you wish not to be too bold.
Wall cupboards in particular can benefit from using a combination of door types. For example in one area you could use conventional hinged doors, and in another use the lift up bi-fold style.
Textures and surfaces.
There is absolutely no need to keep all of your worksurface the same. Interesting effects can be created by using different materials, the emphasis here being materials (not just colour). This effect gives the best results when there is a practical reason for the change of material. For example, switching from laminate to a natural wood around a Belfast sink.
If you are fortunate enough to have space for an island unit, this can look particularly well if fitted with a worksurface contrasting with the remainder of your kitchen.
A change of worksurface textures is best if the different surfaces do not actually meet, as the jointing of the different materials can cause technical problems and does not always look very good, but where a change of texture can be achieved on a separate section of kitchen, it can look great.
Naturally any choices of alternative worksurfaces must be made carefully to avoid a clash of colour or a miss match of tecture.
Worksurface materials are not just for the worktop. Strips of matching material make a very good splashback and an interesting alternative to tiles. In addition the worksurface material can be applied to the gable end of a cupboard to produce a chunky frame around the doors, but remember the impact on space, this technique adds 40mm at least onto the overall width of a section of kitchen. If you can afford the space, it looks great.