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Designed for Life

More than ever the kitchen is the heart of the home, which means getting the design right is crucial

The kitchen is longer simply a place to cook food: in modern homes it has become a place to eat, watch television, work or hang out with friends. So if you are thinking of remodeling the first question to ask is: ‘what am I going to use it for?’ It may sound obvious but for designer Suzanne Watson, whose CV boasts the Metropolitan range for bespoke kitchen company Smallbone of Devizes, it’s a fundamental consideration.

“The first thing I do when I’m asked to design a kitchen is to look at the way my client lives. Are they both working parents? Do they have a cleaner or do they do their own housework? Wanting a shiny white kitchen is all well and good but if you are too busy to ever clean it properly it’s going to look pretty horrible.”

Once that is established, a design can take shape around the key, basic element: the ‘working triangle’: “The cooker, fridge and sink should form a triangle and you shouldn’t have to travel too far to any of those things. Once I have that I think about where the other white goods will go, where there is an electrical point usually, unless of course you have the luxury of a utility room.”

Then when it comes to storage, think again about how you live. “Do you have takeaway curry every night, or do you actually cook? If you have spice racks and cookery books stacked up but never use them, get rid. Having things just sitting on shelves is pretty unhygienic as they just gather dust and grease.”

Likewise, de-clutter gadgets and utensils. “My basic rule of thumb is only keep what you use – have a basic set of stuff, saucepans, pots, etc with a few nice pieces for special occasions. That way it’s always used and it’s always getting cleaned. Have as few gizmos as possible but if you do like to have a blender or a mixer, consider having deeper work surfaces than come as standard so you have room at the back for these things and still have enough room for a work surface.”

When you are choosing your cabinets, be careful about getting swayed by fashion. “The new thinking is to have free-standing units but think about how you will clean underneath them. If you like that style, have them so that they are 50mm off the floor. It’s more cleanable and you get a light, airy looking kitchen.”

Finally, know what to invest money in. “If you are on a budget there are certain things you should not stint on,” says Suzanne. “Get the electrics and plumbing done by professionals. Also, if you buy an expensive material like marble for your work surfaces spend a little more and get a specialist to install it to avoid costly mistakes. Then, think about the flooring. If you have kids or animals, something cheap is going to wear out then be a nightmare to replace once the units are fitted. A great durable surface is Nairn Lineleum – its made from linseed oil, is ecological and is easy to clean. Let function and serviceability be your watchwords.”

For your address book:

  • Suzanne Watson – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Nairn Linoleum –