Recipe for a kitchen

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 September, 2011, 12:00am


Smart design can help homemakers create efficient kitchens, even in the smallest apartments.

Tara Highfield, from Tara Highfield Designs, says there are three main challenges when designing a small kitchen - structural and non-structural walls, plumbing and electrics, and prioritising what must be in the kitchen. 'I prefer to open kitchens up as much as possible. If you have non-structural walls, it is not a huge problem because you can knock them down.

'But if you have structural walls, you are limited in opening the kitchen up. In the case of structural walls, I would suggest removing the door and extending the kitchen out if possible, or moving the kitchen entirely to another location, then you can make the original kitchen into a small office or a closet.'

Highfield says in order to get the most out of a design, the plumbing often needs to be moved to another wall. She also says prioritising how you use the space is important. 'For example, if you don't entertain or use the kitchen much then a dishwasher may not be so important, but additional storage may be very important.'

Other questions include prioritising in terms of bigger appliances or more countertop space. This, she says, depends on your needs and determining what to sacrifice to gain the feeling of more space and a better workspace.

Highfield recommends using smaller appliances and sinks, under-counter refrigerators and retractable worktops, or islands that incorporate storage space and work as a dining bench.

Try raising the lower countertop a little higher than normal to gain more storage space for drawers or cabinets under the counter. In a small space, every millimetre counts. Inside the cabinets try not to waste space by utilising corners with special metal pull-out racks.

Upper cabinets can be built all the way to the ceiling, and where there is space, full-height cabinets from floor to ceiling provide more storage. Don't forget the light - the more light, the bigger the space will feel.

'Use mirrors to reflect light. This will give you the feeling of having twice as much light,' Highfield says. She also recommends using downlights under the upper cabinets, which is also useful for having extra light to prepare food. Light strips under the lower cabinets create the feeling of length, making the kitchen feel longer and seem like it's floating.

She says it is also very important in a small kitchen to incorporate compact appliances into the design and in Hong Kong they are easy to come by.

Combining appliances, such as the microwave and oven, into one saves space and allows you to have one extra free cabinet for storage.

It depends on your needs, but a small kitchen doesn't necessarily need a normal four-burner stove.

'Companies now make two-burners and even one-burners,' Highfield says.

'I don't recommend a one-burner stove because it takes up about the same amount of countertop space in terms of the depth of the countertop, so you would be better off with two-burners.

'You can also buy half-size dishwashers, under-counter refrigerators and under-counter freezers. Companies like Smeg and Siemens have great small appliances and they are energy efficient too.'