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Reading: How to Plan the Perfect Kitchen

How to Plan the Perfect Kitchen

6 min read

A new kitchen can be both exciting and intimidating – after all we spend a lot of time there! Getting the design right will make the homeowner’s life easier, getting it wrong can result in a daily reminder of all our mistakes and add a lot of stress to the household.


We asked Interior & Marketing Director at Vic Lake Architects, Mia Lake to break down what you need to know into steps and share some secret expert tips.

“I believe you can make almost anything look pretty, but creating a functioning space is vital for successful design”

Mia Lake

First Things First

Interior designer Mia Lake says she thinks there are two things homeowners need to think about before planning a kitchen.

  1. Create an appliances and fixtures ‘must-have-list’ and a ‘wish-I-could-have-list’; work out if you desire a gas or induction cooktop, a double sink or large single sink, a French door fridge or double door fridge. Prioritise the ‘must-haves’, as you might not get everything you wish for due to space and budget limitations.
  2. Space requirements need to be recognised. In order for your kitchen to function, you need to understand what space you have to work with, and how much space every appliance needs. Whether you do it with a pen, paper and scale ruler or using a CAD computer program, create a floor plan with accurate site dimensions and accurately draw in the appliances.

Once you understand the space limitations and opportunities you can start working on the design.

The Best Layout

“With design, the idea of the ‘perfect triangle’ doesn’t always apply,” says Mia. “I treat my placement of appliances and layout of the kitchen like a game of netball. You don’t want to ‘travel’ – taking too many steps in a kitchen wastes time and can be dangerous with hot pots and trays. You want to move one foot and pivot to your next task. Keeping the cooktop and oven close to each other is sensible as is the fridge and the sink being close together.”

“I love having a bin-drawer on one side of my sink and dishwasher on the other, so you can systematically scrap, rinse and wash.”

“Speeding up the mundane chores such as unpacking groceries or washing dishes is a high priority for me. I would rather have more time for the fun of cooking.”

But there are some layout tricks it pays to bear in mind. Make sure the bin is near the prep area. Ensure there is clear space on either side of the hob for prep and utensil storage and keep the dishwasher close to the sink.

When it comes to storage, it’s like planning a wardrobe – you need to allow space for the things you haven’t bought yet – don’t assume you will never buy more pans, recipe books or mugs.

And talking of which, make sure you plan not only what you have but where you are going to put it. I can unload my entire dishwasher without taking a single step which makes a dull job so much easier.

The Most Important Thing to Spend Money on

“In terms of design aesthetics, whatever is giving you the most impact or is the feature of your design, such as the benchtop or splashback, is worth paying the big bucks for,” says Mia.

“Also consider what needs to last a long time, such as your benchtop, which is going to cop the most impact in the kitchen with prep work, cooking, cleaning and eating. It’s worth getting something of high quality.”

The Latest Kitchen Trends

“I am seeing quirky proportions and impact from form instead of colour,” she says. “Rangehoods have been a big part of this trend. Rangehoods have been clad in stone slabs, tiles, contrasting materials and ‘boxed out’ on their own instead of typically being sandwiched with overhead cupboards.”

Other trends that Mia highlights include semi-transparent storage; textured glass fronted or perforated metal joinery doors.

“Coloured kitchens are also hugely popular,” she adds. “People are swooning over colours such as navy, sage greys, dusty blues, deep greens and putty tones.”

How to Ensure that your Kitchen won’t look Tired or Dated

“Ensuring your kitchen doesn’t look tired in a few years time is easy,” says Mia. “Understand the needs of the materials used in making your kitchen, and care for them accordingly. Don’t use harsh chemicals on natural stone as it will permanently discolour the stone. Don’t use a dark veneer if the kitchen is exposed to the sun as it will fade. Trust me, a little bit of care goes a long way.”

To stop your kitchen looking dated, Mia advises that you should avoid trends. “I say decorate with trends, don’t design with them,” she says. “Bar stools, bowls, trays and chopping boards are a great way of decorating the kitchen. Alternatively, find ways of adding trends to the kitchen that can be easily updated in the future. For example, brass handles in a kitchen is very on-trend now, but these can be easily replaced in the future.”

Mia’s favourite Caesarstone® surface at the moment

“That is a tough question,” she says. “My go-to is Fresh Concrete™. I love the matte finish. It looks so natural and complements so many other materials in the room. It looks great paired with natural stones, timber textures and decorative glazed tiled splashbacks. It also sits at a good price point, so it works with most budgets.

Cloudburst Concrete™ is like an upgraded version of Fresh Concrete™,” she adds. “It has the added cloud-like movement while still possessing the beautiful matte appearance. I do absolutely love this one.

“And just recently, I have fallen back in love with an oldie from the Caesarstone® collection, Clamshell™. I love the warm grey hue with the subtle yet impactful fossil-like pattern. I am proposing it on a new project at the moment – fingers crossed the client loves it as much as I do!”


Anatomy of a Benchtop

Caesarstone® surfaces can be fabricated into a number of beautiful details that provide both practical as well as aesthetic benefits.

Cutting a Slab for a U-shaped Kitchen

This example shows how a single slab of Caesarstone® might be cut for a compact U-shaped kitchen, showing a cut-out for an under mount sink and allowing for a 100mm upstand around the entire length of the work surface and a 10mm overhang.

Surface Edge Details

Getting the details right is critical to design success. This diagram shows a number of different edge finishes to suit traditional and contemporary kitchen styles.

Vic Lake Architect provides services in architecture, interior design, project management and project marketing.  The practice, led by Vic Lake, operates on a collaborative project team basis, showcasing a wide range of skills gained over many years of experience working closely with clients and construction teams.

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