Interiors: Kitchen sink dramas

Omega Quebec oak work surface with Tessera Cream cut down to create a low level table. BELOW: Bench stool with integrated bread storage, from Barnes of Ashburton Ltd.

Omega Quebec oak work surface with Tessera Cream cut down to create a low level table. BELOW: Bench stool with integrated bread storage, from Barnes of Ashburton Ltd.

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A kitchen’s supposed to be the heart of a home but if yours is falling short it could be time for expert help. Amelie Skoda finds wizard kitchen solutions.

Kitchens are the ultimate multi-functional room these days, where the family gather to cook, eat, socialise, and they may even double up as a work space.

Omega Quebec oak work surface with Tessera Cream cut down to create a low level table.

Omega Quebec oak work surface with Tessera Cream cut down to create a low level table.

That’s fine, if you’relucky enough to have a kitchen the size of an aircraft hangar, like the enviable, dream spaces portrayed in glossy magazines.

But as new homes are generally smaller today than they were 30 years ago (according to a study by the Royal Institute of British Architects), many of us will be dealing with a smaller space than we’d ideally like.

“Nowadays properties are getting smaller, which in turn means that consumers are searching for a smaller kitchen to suit their needs and home,” says Jason McNulty, head of product development at Wren Kitchens.

“But smaller needn’t mean less functional or less stylish.”

Planning how you use the space is key, so that not an inch is wasted. Also consider carefully what you need to include in your kitchen. If possible, move appliances into other rooms in the house – for example, a freezer can go in a garage, a washing machine in a utility room or bathroom, as this helps free up vital space in the kitchen.

If you’re still in a stew, here’s what the experts have to say:

SPACE STARVED

Even if your kitchen feels more like a coat cupboard, you can improve the situation by making the most of the space you do have available – from the floor to the ceiling. “Too many wall units can make the kitchen feel cluttered. Choose tall wall units that provide plenty of space without taking up too much room,” says Marco Rossi, head of product for Magnet Kitchens.

GALLEY GOSH

Galley kitchens are notoriously tricky with their long, narrow shape, but with the right planning you can turn this to your advantage, says Abigail Ahern.

“One of the secrets is open shelving on the walls so you avoid dominating wall units,” she says.

U-SHAPED SHAKE-UP

A U-shaped layout is one of the most functional styles. “With three walls to work with, you can position the oven and hob in the centre of the room and the fridge and sink around it on either side, forming a compact and practical ‘working triangle’,” says Belinda Corani, founder of www.houseconscious.com.

Debbie Bowden, a designer at bespoke kitchen company Barnes of Ashburton, agrees. “If you can accommodate a central island, scale it down and create a sociable place for guests to perch,” she suggests.

“If the size of your kitchen won’t allow a fixed island, a butcher’s trolley is a stylish alternative, providing additional storage and worktop space.”