Where to start when planning a new kitchen

Where to start when planning a new kitchen

If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, there are few things more exciting than planning a new kitchen.

However, it’s easy to get swept away with ideas for a new kitchen, only to have those same ideas become headaches when it comes to the kitchen remodel.

Successful kitchen remodels require careful thought and planning to ensure that:

  • Your new kitchen is optimally functional.
  • Your kitchen remodel stays within budget.

Budget when you planning a new kitchen

When planning a new kitchen the most important thing to consider at the very outset is your budget. Start with an overall budget. Break it down with estimates for fittings, appliances, materials and the cost of contractors and kitchen consults.

  • Remember to include a sizeable ‘contingency’ fund for any unforeseen costs, snags, and things you may not have thought of when planning when your new kitchen.
  • Err on the side of caution. Things often cost more than you think they will, and there are always hidden costs.
  • Include the cost of planning your new kitchen with a kitchen consultant. This is sure to save you money in the end!

List your kitchen ‘likes and dislikes’:

List what you like and don’t like about your current kitchen. Include what isn’t functional, e.g. fridge door opening the wrong way, or into your work space etc., not enough counter space for food preparation, insufficient storage etc.

Then list what you do like about your current kitchen or wish to keep.

Gather kitchen ideas when planning a new kitchen:

Now for the fun part!  Listing your ‘kitchen needs’ and ‘kitchen wants’ and compiling your kitchen design inspirations and ideas.

It will be far easier for your kitchen consultant to get an idea of what you like if you can show them examples. If you are opting for a do-it-yourself kitchen redo, research and a portfolio of ideas will help just as much.

Create your basic spatial plan. Consider:

  • Overall floor space. You need to factor in specific clearances for walking spaces (especially around kitchen islands), and
  • Clearances: for fridge, cabinet, and appliance doors, around plug points between countertops and mounted cabinets.
  • The ‘Work Triangle’ between the three most used areas and appliances: the refrigerator, worktop, and the sink.
  • Electrical points: Can you work with the existing points?
  • Lighting: Think of how to maximise natural lighting
  • Countertops: food preparation space is key to a well-designed and functional kitchen
  • Storage space: Who doesn’t need more storage space in their kitchen?

A kitchen designer or contractor will help you refine your plan, but you’ll make the whole process tidier and more cost effective, and minimize snags if you do your due diligence on spatial planning at the outset when designing your new kitchen.

What are the best kitchen trends to consider?

What are the best kitchen trends to consider?

The kitchen has always been the ‘heart of the home’, functioning as a social hub as well as a functional kitchen. In the past couple of years it has also become a work-station for millions of people who work from home. This, along with increasing environmental awareness and the necessity of reducing energy-use, are driving the best kitchen trends in design and functionality.

Atmospheric but often dark ‘cottage kitchen’ interiors are out – and modern, sleek, light, multi-functional and energy efficient ‘kitchen hubs’ are IN. These are the best kitchen trends to consider:

Maximizing airflow and natural light:

  • Kitchen trends are focused on indoor/outdoor design, airy kitchens integrated with open-plan living and entertainment areas.
  • Lots of white on walls and cabinetry.
  • Big windows and doors opening to patios directly from the kitchen.

Innovative storage solutions for modern kitchen trends:

The current trend for hidden and streamlined storage as seen a huge range of kitchen designs focused on reducing hard-to reach vertical wall cabinets. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Under counter storage drawers (push-button is popular)
  • ‘Lazy Susan’s’ in slim-fit corner pantries.
  • Open shelving that increases overall storage capacity for small appliances (and allows you to display more plants, ornaments, and other kitchen aesthetics)
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‘Smart’, multi-functional kitchens:

  • Smart kitchens are all the rage – from smart gadgets to remote controlled mood lighting and a host of new ‘smart’ technologies for use at home or from your smartphone.
  • Kitchens designed with work-at-home (at the kitchen counter) functionality. Lighting, windows and plug points are increasingly designed with ergonomic incorporation of multi-functionality.

Energy-efficient kitchens:

  • Energy efficient lighting – with a focus on recessed LEDs, strip fluorescents and LED spot-lighting that targets a particular work area.
  • The latest in energy efficient appliances. Of course! Gas hobs are increasingly popular and relatively very energy efficient.
  • Multi-purpose kitchen islands – with built-in ‘bar-style’ seating, storage, and cooktops.

Quartz Counter tops are part of the latest kitchen trends:

There have never been more choices for kitchen finishes, with trends on natural, easy-to-clean, and durable. Too many to mention here, but it’s worth specifically mentioning quartz countertops. The most hygienic and durable natural option is now available in every colour – making your choice for kitchen countertops easy!

There many other kitchen trends – centred on what you do in the kitchen, what you cook and how, new gadgets and appliances, to what your kitchen looks like and how it functions. Overall, the best kitchen trends are the ones that simplify and fit in to a modern but nature-loving lifestyle.

How to make an energy efficient kitchen

How to make an energy efficient kitchen

Energy efficient kitchen equipment is ESSENTIAL these days – for environmental reasons and to keep down energy bills. There are many new kinds of kitchen equipment that have been designed to use less power – with Induction equipment leading the way in energy efficiency. However, let’s start with replacing your old power hungry appliances!

The most energy efficient kitchen equipment – a NEW refrigerator

To choose the most energy efficient kitchen appliances, start with looking at Eco-friendly alternatives to appliances that usually use the most power.

Up until recently, refrigerators used the most power in our kitchens – especially old ones. Replacing outdated models with the latest energy-efficient refrigerators will ensure you use a lot less power and can help you save the most on your kitchen-related utility bill.

The most energy-efficient refrigerators are:

  • New refrigerators are the most energy efficient. Irrespective of what particular power saving features it has, a new fridge will use far less energy than an old fridge. On average, any new fridge today will use less than half of the power used by any refrigerator that is more than fifteen years old.
  • Refrigerators with top or bottom freezer compartments are more energy efficient than refrigerators with side-by-side fridge/freezer sections.
  • Free-standing refrigerators use far less energy than built in refrigerators thanks to improved air flow around the appliance.

Energy efficient Hobs – Gas vs Induction

  • Gas hobs are more energy efficient than electrical hobs, but possibly not the most Eco-friendly options overall. With gas prices rising, they are also no longer ideal when it comes to saving money.
  • Induction stove tops use a fraction of the electricity used by traditional stove tops. They are currently rated as the most energy efficient hobs. Electromagnetic induction appliances use around 15 to 20% less energy than electric hobs and coils. Induction tops also heat up faster and cool down almost immediately – with far less power wastage.

Counter-top kitchen appliances designed for energy efficiency:

With the urgent need for energy-efficiency at the forefront of kitchen appliance design, there are several energy efficient counter-top kitchen appliances you can use for cooking and heating food. The following energy efficient kitchen equipment appliances utilize the latest technologies to use less power while cooking your food better and faster:

  • Air-fryers: energy efficient equipment for healthier eating.
  • Freestanding Induction plates / hobs. – the most energy efficient way to cook smaller meals.
  • Convection Ovens, Slow Cookers, Toaster Ovens and Multi-Cookers – all energy efficient kitchen equipment that optimize power usage vs output. They heat quickly, efficiently and are ideal for smaller kitchens and smaller meals.

With so many energy-efficient cooking appliances on the market, its not necessary to replace all of your old ones to save on power usage. However, you will save money by investing in newer models if you use those ‘traditional’ appliances often. You will also save significantly on utility bills by using the most energy efficient kitchen equipment technology on the market today – Induction.

The Kitchen Work Triangle – and what you need in it.

The Kitchen Work Triangle – and what you need in it.

Any discussion on Kitchen Design will center on the ‘Kitchen Work Triangle’ or the ‘Kitchen Work Triangle Theory’. The former refers to the design and latter refers to the principles behind the design and the importance of the kitchen work triangle for optimally functional kitchens.

Kitchen Work Triangle –  the 3 things you need in it and the design dimensions:

  • The 3 points of the work triangle are the stove top/oven, the refrigerator and the sink. This is all you need in it. Placement of these appliances and fittings should be within triangle dimensions that allow for variations in the triangle size, but that still promotes easy and minimal movement between the 3 points of the triangle.
  • The length of each side should be a minimum of 4 feet on two sides and 5 feet on the last side, up to a maximum of 9 feet on two sides and 8 feet on the 3rd side. (The total length of all 3 sides added together should be a minimum of 13 feet and a maximum of 26 feet.)
  • Other appliances and preparation areas should ideally placed a minimum of four feet from closest point in the kitchen triangle.

Benefits of the Kitchen Work Triangle:

Applying the above principles ensures:

  • You don’t need to work around impediments in the kitchen
  • Minimal walking required between sink, stove and fridge
  • Aesthetically pleasing kitchen with optimal use of floor space
  • An optimally functional kitchen
  • Higher value on your home

The work triangle was originally created in the 1940s to optimize space usage and reduce the costs of new kitchens and kitchen remodels. This foundational principle still applies, but it ‘s relevance to the principles behind Kitchen Work Triangles has since been superseded by the main benefit of making your kitchen user-friendly – and truly functional.

Applying the work triangle principles also ensures that you don’t end up with silly design mistakes such as a refrigerator door that opens onto the stove, where you will be standing while cooking.

The principles of Kitchen Work Triangles make the triangle ideal as a central design feature for the layout of any size kitchen – no matter how big or small.  If you have space for nothing else, you can still opt for a correctly sized work triangle – with the correct balance of dimensions and the same user-friendly, efficiency and aesthetic benefits.

Incorporating kitchen islands into the Kitchen Work Triangle

Unless the stove top is incorporated into the island (as many are), kitchen islands can get in the way – protruding into the triangle area. According to best kitchen design principles, this protrusion is allowed up to 12 inches on one side of the triangle. Any more of an intrusion and the island will impede movement while you are cooking.

Kitchen Work Triangles add value to your home

Your kitchen is not only the most used room in the house, it’s also the most valuable. Kitchens can add huge value to your home, or detract significantly from it. If you don’t already have a correctly sized and placed kitchen work triangle in your old kitchen, you can be sure that a professional kitchen remodel will always include a work triangle.

If you are planning on a do-it-yourself kitchen remodel, ensure that you start your design with the kitchen work triangle.  It will save you money, ensure valuable functionality and – as a bonus – you’ll enjoy every minute you spend cooking! And all you need in it besides the 3 appliances and fittings that make up the 3 points are your what you need to cook.

How to Budget for a Kitchen Remodel

How to Budget for a Kitchen Remodel

A Kitchen remodel and renovations – big and small – will almost always cost more than you think they will. But they can end up costing even more (more than they have to) if you do not budget correctly from the start. It’s better to be realistic with your budget before you start on individual costings.

Overall Budget – as step 1 in planning your kitchen remodel

At the outset your overall budget should include a sizeable contingency fund for extras and snags – anywhere up to 30%. You also need to factor in the cost of a kitchen consultant; this is always recommended for larger jobs and full kitchen remodels.

Once you have determined your overall budget, you need to prepare a costing breakdown. You will use your overall budget amount less your contingency amount and the cost of using a kitchen consultant to determine your budget.

Determining the kitchen remodel ‘specs’ and ‘scope’

At this stage you will also need your layout plans to determine specs – and what you can do with your kitchen remodel.  For example, you may find you should try save on costs by paining old cabinets instead of getting new ones.

Following is a rough % guideline you can use to apportion your budget and determine the scope of your kitchen remodel.

Budget Breakdown for a new kitchen

Cabinets are almost always the most costly items in a kitchen. Apportion a minimum of 35% of your budget to cabinetry if you want new cabinets.

Cabinets – 35%

Appliances – 20%

Fittings & Fixtures (including islands and lighting) – 10%

Electrical & Building – 15%

Contractor labor – 20%

The above is subject to how much building work you need done.

  • You may need a drywall removed or an opening made in a load-bearing wall. in most cases – especially when remodelling old kitchens – you will get the most value from opening up your kitchen to the living room.
  • You may want more light and need windows put in. Note that these can be very expensive, and may need their own chunk of your budget.
  • Do you need new wiring? flooring? A big paint job? Factor this in to your 15% for Electrical and Building as well as Labor.

Allowances – the final stage in your Kitchen Remodelling Budget

The final stage in preparing your budget is getting estimates from contractors and suppliers. You can then draft your ‘allowances’ in real figures.

Allowances should be greater than the estimates – at least by 15%. This will give you more room to choose when it comes down to options on fittings, lighting, cabinetry and appliances.

Colander, Sifter, Sieve And Strainer – What are their purposes

Colander, Sifter, Sieve And Strainer – What are their purposes

‘Colander’, ‘sifter’, ‘sieve’ and ‘strainer’ – all familiar descriptions for standard kitchen equipment staples that every kitchen has. However, these names are often used interchangeably. If you have ever stopped to think of what the difference is between a Colander and a Strainer, the following explanations of what they are designed to do, will help.

Colander – used to wash:

Colanders can be made of stainless steel or plastic. They bowl-shaped, and have large holes in them. They are designed for washing vegetable, meats or cooked pasta. The key here is ‘large holes’. They are not meant to ‘strain’ – despite our usually using that word to describe what we use colanders for. The large holes are solely meant for excess liquids run-off, along with unwanted particles such as dirt, and gluten. Easy to clean,  easy to hold under running water and free-standing.

Strainer – used to separate liquids and solids:

Like colanders, strainers are meant to help you remove liquids.  However, strainers can do one thing that colanders can’t: strainers can separate liquid from foods with fine particulates. Strainers are made with varying mesh sizes. They are ideal for squeezing juice or other liquids from raw and cooked foods – whether it’s the liquid you want of the solids left in the strainer.

Colander And Strainer – What are their purposes

Sifter – used to refine ingredients:

Sifters are made with fine mesh to refine ingredients such as flour. Your bread, other baked goods or foods fried with flour must be sifted first or it will have lumps. Sifters are not suitable for washing raw food items or draining pasta water as it is too fine. The holes will get clogged – and good luck with the cleaning!

Colander, Sifter And Strainer – What are their purposes

Sieve – used to separate larger particles:

Sieves and sifters are very similar, and so often referred to and used interchangeably. However, sieves have larger mesh holes; a sifter will not do for separating granular ingredients as it the mesh is too fine. Sieves plug the gap between sifters and colanders for separating solids and liquids, but they are designed to help you separate ingredients pre-cooking or remove larger particles or lumps post cooking.

Colander And sieve – What are their purposes

Chopping board choices for hygiene

Chopping board choices for hygiene

There are many different types of chopping boards available on the market, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. A chopping board is a kitchen gadget that is used for chopping and preparing food.With a little bit of research, you can find the perfect chopping board for your kitchen.

Hygiene is very important in the kitchen. We all know this. But how much attention do we pay to kitchen hygiene ‘danger zones’ like chopping boards? Chopping boards used in food prep (also commonly called cutting boards) can be breeding grounds for bacteria if they are not cleaned properly after use. Chopping boards 

The following provides a brief guide to the different kinds of food chopping boards you can get and what to consider re hygiene:

Types of kitchen chopping boards - plastic, bamboo and glass
Types of kitchen chopping boards – plastic, bamboo and glass

Kitchen chopping board types:

  • Wood cutting boards are still popular as heavy duty chopping boards. They look good (think ‘French Country Kitchen’), they are stable, and they don’t ‘leak’ juices off the edges, like glass cutting boards do. In general, chefs also prefer wooden cutting boards in the kitchen because they are the kindest on knives. However, they can retain food particulates and active pathogens if they are not scrubbed clean and dried thoroughly after each use.
  • Bamboo cutting boards are less pricey than hardwood cutting boards. They are also less prone to collecting deep cuts and grooves over time. This can make them a more hygienic option – as long as care is given to cleaning and drying out the boards thoroughly after use to kill off bacteria and prevent fungal infestations in the bamboo grain. Clean with soap and water and disinfect regularly.
  • Plastic or acrylic chopping boards. Light weight and easy to clean, plastic and acrylic cutting boards are ideal for meat, chicken, and fish ad they are dishwasher safe and easy to wipe down.
    However, some hard plastic cutting boards quickly collect a network of fine cuts and grooves. These are ideal hiding places for bacteria.
  • Glass chopping boards are noisy, blunt knives, and juices run off them on to counters. However, are very easy to clean and wipe between uses. They are also dishwasher safe.

Irrespective of the type of board being used: Use once for chopping each food type if there is a cross-contamination risk e.g. with raw chicken. Clean after each use – with boiling water for wood, or in the dishwasher.

Silicone Bakeware versus Metal Bakeware

Silicone Bakeware versus Metal Bakeware

Silicone bakeware is the new way of baking but have they done enough research for us to be comfortable using it. Metal bakeware comes in tin, aluminium, stainless steel and cast iron – with aluminium being the most popular and commonly used.

Metals all heat fast, distribute heat well and maintain temperatures out of the oven. With all the metal options, not to mention glass and ceramic bakeware (each suitable in its own way for different baked goods – with advantages and disadvantages), there must be a good reason why silicone has become so popular.

Silicone bakeware is ideal for cakes and cupcakes and dishwasher safe

Advantages of silicone baking tins, cake tins and moulds:

1. Silicone bakeware is ideal for cakes and cupcakes. It helps keep the moisture in, maintaining both the velvety texture and rich, mouth-watering flavours you want to achieve.

2. It is also perfect for creating chocolate moulds as it is so flexible, and for acidic treats like lemon cakes because it doesn’t not react with the food.

3. However, it’s the non-stick property that makes it a winner. More indulgence and enjoyment of the product of your hard work, and a lot less time in the kitchen cleaning and scrubbing!

Silicone bakeware is also:

♥ Easy to clean – thanks to being flexible and it’s non-stick texture
♥ Microwave safe
♥ Dishwasher safe
♥ Exceptionally durable. It doesn’t rust. And it won’t break if dropped on the floor.

The disadvantages of silicone bakeware:

 Some purists simply don’t like it or see the need for silicone considering all the other options. Others aren’t convinced there are no health risks – despite the evidence there aren’t any. It’s heat proof up to very high temperatures, and it does not leach anything into the food.

The only real disadvantage is that the baking can take longer, and temperatures need to be adjusted slightly to take this into account. It doesn’t heat the way metal does, and so it’s easy to get times wrong, and it may not be suitable for baked goods that depend on fast, high heat.

Then there’s taking a pie out in a floppy dish…let’s say that needs a bit of skill and finesse!

In the end, metal will still come out the winner for many, thanks to its fast heating properties. It comes down to what metal to use, and what not to for different dishes e.g. aluminium should not be used with acidic ingredients.

The absolute essentials for your kitchen

The absolute essentials for your kitchen

The items considered essential vary drastically between people. It all depends on how much cooking you want to do, and how much entertaining. It also depends on how seriously you take your cooking, and creative you want to be. Ask any chef, and their list of essentials will include many more items than most people will ever need! As a baker what’s essential, and you’ll get a whole different list.

The following is a list of ‘absolute bare essentials’ – basic kitchen items that you will need for most dishes. The important thing being: SETS of almost everything, or two or three varieties of something, e.g. mixing bowls!

The essentials for kitchen vary according to what type of cook you are

Items every starter kitchen should have:

Kitchen essentials include:

  1. Knives The important knife and block set – with different sizes and types knives for most important applications of application, from a chef’s knife to a carving knife, bread knife to paring knife.
    (ADD: A knife / blade sharpener. Essential to keep your chef’s knives other large chopping knives from going blunt…)
  2. Cutting boards
    – Fruit and vegetable: wood or bamboo is best
    – For cutting meat: glass or silicone
  3. Cooking Utensil set – with your spatulas, ladles, draining spoon and potato masher
  4. Wood utensil set! (Including wooden salad servers)
  5. Plastic colander – good for draining pasta and washing lettuce. Add a stainless steel one later.
  6. Set of pots and pans: Get a full set in one go. It’s much cheaper in the end and you’ll never be caught out with ‘not the right pot’.
  7. Set of 3 casserole dishes – small, medium, and large. (ADD: Oven gloves)
  8. Dinnerware SET
  9. Cutlery SET
  10. plastic mixing bowl, 2 x medium sized glass bowls that can double up as salad bowls.
  11. A potato peeler.
  12. Measuring jugs – 1 large plastic and I glass jug

Once you have the above, you have the core kitchen items you can gradually add to, according to your meal preferences.