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Planning your modern kitchen

Last year, when working with in-toto I was asked from our head office to write a post for a home renovation blogger, Your Home Renovation.

Here's the full interview from the archives of October 2016...

Expert advice – planning your modern kitchen

" This week, we chat to Joel LaRosa, studio manager at in-toto Leicester, who offers great inspiration and advice.

Your Home Renovation: What are customers currently looking for in a modern / contemporary kitchen?

Joel LaRosa: The kitchen has evolved from an area where you prepare and cook meals, to a place where you relax, create, converse and be “home”. More families are now spending time together and the open plan kitchen really is the foundation for this. For example, when a couple are making a meal, one is cooking and the other setting a table whilst they’re both interacting with their guests, siblings, friends and family.

A great thing about this is that whether it’s breakfast for two, Sunday lunch, an intimate dinner party or even the big Christmas gathering, you should always feel that you are part of your home and are rested in the whole space.

kitchen islands leicester

YHR: Are there any emerging trends in modern designs?

JL: Our industry is always evolving strongly and coming up with new colours, textures and schemes. The “Scandi” lifestyle kitchen has become very strong. Light fresh colours, cashmeres, whites and greys with green or mustard accents have become really popular however; the latest thing is “darker” and “industrial” inspiration. Anthracites, inky blue colours like that. A great way to contrast this is with a light wood grain to tone it up and give it warmth. An insider tip is Matt Lacquers. Light grey is the new black, matt is the new gloss.

matt black kitchen

YHR: What would your ideal modern kitchen design be? And what layout would you choose? JL: Wow this is a hard one; we’re all different so it’s down to personal preference. Personally, I really like wide galley-style kitchens. I love the Scandinavian style and would probably have Amtico Weathered Oak, fitted in a parquet style, matt white units, light grey Silestone Kensho worktops, either a printed random mix tile, a herringbone white brick tile or a glass splashback, in mustard! Like I say, we’re all different so its personal preference, whether it’s my Fiancée’s preference is a different question!

scandi kitchen

YHR: What should you consider when designing a modern kitchen for a young family?

JL: Think about how you will cook. For example, take your produce out of the fridge freezer and onto a prep area. Once prepared, move over to the hob or into the oven with the food and don’t forget the dishes going in the sink or dishwasher along the way.

Logistics – We all live in a modern, fast paced society so this has to be considered. You don’t want to have the “working triangle” directly in a path way. For instance, between your back door and your living room, the kids may be running in and out and if you don’t have a worktop near your oven without turning with a hot pan, anything can happen (god forbid it does!). Unfortunately, this isn’t always an option so it’s a case of thinking vanity over sanity sometimes but making sure they both co-ordinate with each other well.

A few good tips – have your dishwasher close to your sink, ensure you have good set down space near your cooker without turning, and go with an induction hob; induction hobs are the safest, lowest maintenance hobs on the market.

graphite kitchen

YHR: Island units are always a popular choice. What would you say the pros and cons are to these? JL: With everything there’s always a for & against conversation. Pros can be extra storage, worktop, seating & more detail to your design. Cons can be; incorrect designs, not ensuring you have a realistic space, becoming more of an obstacle than an advantage. A key thing to remember when planning an island is space. Ensure you have 120cm (4ft) from each edge of your island. This will give comfortable space to work around and space for two people to pass. Also, a great island size to start from is 200cm (7ft) x 90cm (3ft).

open plan kitchen

YHR: What are the different options when considering cookers / splashbacks etc. and what are the latest trends? JL: Technology has really advanced when it comes to cooking. Induction hobs are a safe, efficient and low maintenance way of cooking so really look into that when thinking of a new kitchen. Self-cleaning ovens have come a long way too, pyrolytic ovens make them effortless to maintain. A new trend and technology slowly coming into our market is “The internet of things”. This is where soon, you’ll be able to see what’s in the fridge from your phone or tablet. Imagine going shopping and thinking “have we got any milk?” and being able to check! Another advance with this is being able to turn the heat down on your oven. Think you’re at work, over lunch you heard someone say that the meal you’re cooking tonight is better cooked on a lower heat, for longer. You’ll be able to grab your phone, turn your oven down and start it sooner, all from a smart device. With splashbacks, more people are now having glass and even more are converting to mirror. With grey and bronze mirror being very popular, some manufacturers have now released an antique finish to give that “industrial”, rustic look in a highly contemporary space.

samsung home appliances

image courtesy of Samsung Appliances

YHR: How important is lighting in a modern kitchen and is there anything you would recommend?

JL: I feel this is a key part in any kitchen design. I recently saw pictures of a (competitors) design where they had lit the top of the wall units, bottom of the wall units, underside of the worktops & plinth. Although this gives a great use for the lights, the room had no ceiling lights so the lighting was really badly managed. If you can discuss lighting with your kitchen designer and they can confidently say where to install spot lights, pendent and feature lights to compliment the design, this gives them a big tick in the box. Another thing to remember is not only where to position the lights but how to turn them on. Do you want all lights on at the same time? Would you like to be able to dim the ceiling lights? Would you like your pendent above the island to be independent to the under cabinet lighting? When your entertaining in the kitchen space, would you like to set the mood to give a more intimate feel?

kitchen ideas lighting

YHR: What else should you consider about electrics before planning a modern kitchen?

JL: Always check if you’re fuse board is up to the job. By law, homes now need to be RCD (Residual Current Device) protected however, you may need to upgrade all or part of your board to take on your new appliances. A good thing to always check is the appliance power. More cooking appliances now require a 30/32amp supply. Check with your appliance provider what is required because if you’re having a combi oven, pyrolytic oven and an induction hob, you may need to have three of these supplies. Something else that I have come across is having too many or not enough sockets. Some people will say to have all double sockets and end up with 10 points in the kitchen. Realistically, will you be toasting, boiling, charging, mixing, microwaving, watching, blending, frying, lighting all at the same time? Think about the key things to keep plugged in. If you’re having a microwave on the counter, does the blender need a socket at the same time? Not really, so you could have a double socket on the opposite side for the kettle & blender. Maybe you would like a boiling water tap, so no need for the kettle point and you could have one double for the microwave and your blender. If you struggle for sockets and like a gadget, the pop up sockets are a great addition to any home. These sit almost flush with your worktop and come up about 20cm (8”) when needed. Simply press & pull up. These tend to have 3 sockets and 2 USB ports so in theory, that’s 5 points of power. Alternatively, you can now get double sockets with USB ports built in so no need for big plugs when charging your phone and boiling the kettle.

worktop socket

image courtesy of Sensio

YHR: What is your favourite gadget in a modern kitchen?

JL: OPTION 1 – The S-Box! This handy little gadget sits flush with your worktop and pops up. You can have sockets, hooks, a knife block or even a TV in these and they look great.

pop up worktop

image courtesy of The S-Box

OPTION 2 – It’s only a little thing but a concealed drawer. In a 2 drawer pack, behind the top fascia you have a hidden drawer. Such a simple idea but it keeps the aesthetics of the unit minimal, works great and also is safe for little hands as they have to pull the big drawer out before they can get to the sharp things in the cutlery drawer.

concealed drawer

image courtesy of Blum

OPTION 3 – Another great gadget is a downdraft extractor. This will pop up out of your worktop behind your hob and create a blanket of air, to draw in the smells and dirty air. These work great on an island so you don’t have a ceiling mounted hood breaking the eye-line. Another point with these is they create a barrier from the cooking area to the opposite side. If you’re having seating on the back of your island, this is a great safety aspect.

downdraft extractor

image courtesy of Caple

YHR: Do you have any other top tips when designing a modern kitchen?

JL: Yes, think about what you see in the space and consider options. You may have the idea to have the fridge freezer in one corner and that’s all you can see. Try imagining it in the opposite corner or maybe put the cooker in a tall unit and see how that works. Discuss options with your designer before asking them to do 5 different designs, they’ll thank you for it and you’ll have a better design rather than seeing all the options before compiling them. Consider trends and your taste. Try to keep things natural and neutral to give a calming effect that can easily be accessorised. Currently light grey, cashmere & white are very fashionable and this is because of their timeless nature and versatility with other colours. For example you love navy blue as its everywhere at the moment. Go with a light grey kitchen and paint a feature wall in the navy. Three years later everyone’s now having deep reds so to keep in trend, you can repaint it on a Saturday afternoon".


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