Making Your Kitchen Cosy This Winter

The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in and temperatures have definitely dropped. Yes, Winter is almost upon us. Brrrr.

If you’re are planning a new kitchen, then you might well have spent a lot of time pondering the type of bespoke cabinetry you want or worktops, splashback materials and the appliances you and your family will need to keep things running smoothly. You might have even started to think about lighting and wall colours but the one thing that can often make or break the usability of a kitchen – particularly during the winter months – is often not given nearly enough thought.

How you heat your kitchen, whether it’s radiators, a cast-iron range that runs the central heating, or underfloor heating, your choice will have a huge impact not just on how you use your kitchen when it’s complete but also how you design the room from its inception. Kitchens are often the hub of the family home, used for dining, chatting, standing around and drinking coffee, but none of this will happen if the room is cold when the oven is off.

BACK TO BASICS

The key to a heating system that works efficiently is a good boiler. When you’re planning your kitchen design, it might be worth factoring in a new boiler rather than repairing it if yours is more than 15 years old as they’re not nearly as energy efficient as new models. Updating an old system to an A-rated condensing boiler could reward you with a 90% increase in efficiency. Also, replacing a boiler could free up room for more cupboards or worktops and you’ll benefit from instant hot water if you opt for a condensing combi-boiler.

CHOOSING YOUR TYPE

  • Radiators

For many years, central heating systems running a series of radiators have been the heating of choice. But although most homes already have these in place, you can update them from dated 1970s flat panel models to one of the many stunning styles on offer from specialists such as Bisque or Aestus. This can totally update your room, or can tie in with your period features.  For modern kitchens look at ladder-style vertical radiators in sleek white and steel finishes and for classic kitchens pick something a little more period in it’s look like Bisque’s Classic range, which echoes Edwardian shapes.

If you’re particularly eco-minded then aluminium models are a good option, as they heat up and cool down much faster than traditional radiators, which will save both time and energy.

One thing you should do if considering radiators is ensure you have just the right amount to heat the room. There are aplenty of online calculators to help you do this – just pop in the room’s dimensions, the number of windows and the calculator will give you the BTUs or wattage required.  Also look at the size of your rad so it doesn’t swamp your room.

  • Underfloor heating

A great option if your kitchen is being designed from the floor up; underfloor heating gives comfortable radiant heat and can deliver great savings too.

Depending on what type of heating you opt for, it can be used under most types of flooring, including: stone, tile, wood and vinyl. It’s best to check your floor is a suitable match before you go ahead and invest, but a large kitchen with porcelain or ceramic tiles are almost always a perfect fit with underfloor heating.

There are two options, electric and wet systems. Electric flooring is easier to fit, being a network of wire elements on a mesh that is placed below the flooring or wet systems, which use water pipes below the floor. An electric system is easier to lay and can be retro-fitted fairly easily if you’re laying a new floor, just check with your builder first. Wet systems require more work and are better suited to renovations such as new extensions or completely new builds.

One of the biggest benefits of underfloor heating is that you don’t have to give over valuable wall space to radiators, meaning you can often include more cabinets for additional space and bespoke storage solutions. This is great news if you are struggling for space. It is also vital to have your kitchen design finalised before the pipes or matts are laid for the flooring, as it would be an absolute waste to heat built-in cupboards, or under appliances. A floor plan from your expert designer will help any heating engineer advise not only the best pattern to lay the floor in but also where to place the controls on the walls. Using a timed thermostat means that you can set the heating on to warm the room just enough so it’s a little easier to step into your kitchen on a frosty winter morning.

  • Cast-iron ranges

While an ‘always-on’ Aga is often the traditional choice in farmhouse designs and looks very attractive and rustic, it will provide a radiant heat to warm your kitchen on a winter’s morning but it can’t run a central heating system. If you want your heat-store range to do that, then opt for models from Stanley or Rayburn, which can often run up to 20 radiators.

  • Go mobile

Finally, consider investing in an app-controlled heating system such as Hive or Nest so you can switch on your heating, using your phone, wherever and whenever you feel the need with great ease.

Styling a Contemporary Kitchen

Creating a chic and contemporary kitchen is a simple and effective way to set a sophisticated tone for your home. There is so much choice when it comes to modern kitchen cabinetry, so how do you create the perfect clutter-free room for relaxing and entertaining?

We have teamed up with Harvey Jones, specialists in bespoke fitted kitchens to find out how to create the contemporary kitchen look.

Contemporary worktops

Modern cabinetry is all about uncomplicated colours. Bright white worktops are too ‘clinical’ for some people, but for others, they’re a simple and effective way to create an ultra-modern kitchen for family and guests to enjoy! Many manufacturers, including Silestone and Caesarstone, are now producing man-made composites that look like natural materials. Of course, while they can look just like marble or concrete, the real benefit of these surfaces is that they are much easier to look after than natural stones, particularly very porous ones such as marble. Material like faux marble is also amazing for creating protective splashbacks with less of the financial outlay than real marble, such as Carrara. The consistent colours and patterns of the latest composites are perfect for contemporary kitchens, and choice for these have taken off over the past few years to include everything from brilliant white to zingy orange.

Perfect order

We all dream of having a well-organised kitchen. So thankfully, modern kitchen designs revolve around the ‘uncluttered look’ that helps us stay calm and cool as we cook. For most of us, the main problem in keeping our kitchens pristine is our work surfaces. While we all might want that statement — and often used — KitchenAid mixer on show, that doesn’t necessarily work with all the other kitchen paraphernalia we collect over time. Hiding clutter in open-plan kitchens is essential. So, plan plenty of storage areas such as deep pan drawers and tambour units to keep small appliances, crockery and china out of sight. Floor-to-ceiling cupboards with no handles can hide a multitude of sins. So, if you have space, they’re a good investment. But remember, for your kitchen to work efficiently, you need easy access to appliances. Place pan drawers by ovens, larders close to prep areas, and china close to the dishwasher.

Crisp-clear lines

How do you get that sleek, aerodynamic look that creates a stand-out, modern kitchen? The best way is with handle-free cabinets. The in-frame construction of kitchen cabinet doors with no handles is both modern and extremely durable, which gives this design feature an edge on others. In smaller kitchen spaces, the absence of handles helps to make a room feel bigger, while in a kitchen with lots of cabinetry, it prevents an overload of steel handles. If you don’t want to commit to all handle-less doors, then you can integrate a run of classic cabinets a contemporary edge by dressing them with sleek bar handles. For an all over modern effect, add modern built-in appliances and top with cool composite worktops. Or, mix and match your kitchen style by incorporating flat-fronted wall cabinets.

Kitchen utensils

Creating a modern kitchen is simple once you get the basics right. But if it’s all about minimalism and clean lines, what do you do about your cooking appliances? Today, there are plenty of contemporary-looking utensils and gadgets for you to choose from that give a complementary look to your modern kitchen. For example; if you have your heart set on a range cooker, choose one of the more modern steel models from Smeg, Mercury or Rangemaster. Integrate as many kitchen appliances as you want, and if possible, place items such as washing machines and tumble dryers in utility rooms. Ensure your fridge and freezer are stored behind closed doors, then keep sightlines clear by installing below-cabinet, in-ceiling or pop-up extractors. Investing in built-in cooking appliances with a sleek, glass zoned induction hob is another good move for a contemporary kitchen. Give the ideal finishing touch with a few modern-day luxuries — such as a boiling water tap, pop-up power points and cool lighting!

Advice for a contemporary kitchen:

  • Vary your levels

A tall breakfast bar next to a lower-lying island is great for providing a relaxed but modern-looking place to eat in your contemporary kitchen. You can create several levels on a peninsula with a raised area to hide the washing-up from dinner guests, or even get a stool that sits just below your breakfast bar to add an extra level to your kitchen and maximise the seating area available.

  • Simple and effective surfaces

A quick way to keep your design modern is to opt for glass or composite for your splashback. Laying large-format floor tiles and securing them with a matching grout gives the much-loved modern look, too.

  • Customise your worktops

Install very thin worktops that help your units look more like furniture. Wrap a composite work surface in a contrasting colour, or place material around the cabinetry on your kitchen islands and at the end of runs.

  • Brighten up your modern kitchen

If you played it safe until now, get creative with your choice of kitchen lighting. Plinth lights almost make base units look like they are floating above the floor, while installing cool LED strips to the interior of wall cabinets and shelves work to highlight favourite kitchen accessories in a contemporary fashion.

Going for a sleek and contemporary kitchen style with neat worktops and modern appliances not only makes your house look amazing, but it also keeps your room free of clutter giving you much more room to cook, relax and entertain!

Kitchen Diners inspired by American TV

Sex in the City is my all time favourite American TV programme, but in second place I would have to put the first two series of Desperate Housewives. I loved the drama and intrigue and the glamorous wardrobes, but most of all I loved their homes, particularly the huge kitchen diners that were at the hub of so many episodes. These huge spaces were warm and cosy, a place to cook, to entertainment, and to drink wine and gossip, literally perfect spaces in perfect homes.

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For me, the perfect kitchen would be spacious enough for the whole family to be in it at the same time. I love the idea of having a central island that can be used for everything from eating breakfast to doing work or homework on. The kitchen above belonged to the most iconic of the Desperate Housewives, Bree Van De Kamp, a woman who would cook a four course meal for ten and not have a single hair out of place. Her kitchen was both traditional, stylish and very practical – a real family space.

Fishpools have a brilliant range of dining tables and barstools that can help you create your own kitchen space. Some of their tables and chairs would suit an actual dining room, but others are perfect for that multi-purpose kitchen ambiance, in American Oak wood, with tables that can be extended to host up to 6 people – real family pieces. I love the Aries pieces, these are strong and sturdy with a rustic, farmhouse kitchen feel. The traditional feel of the table and chairs actually keeps them feeling bang up to date, and you can totally imagine a family growing up around this table.

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If you are just looking to update your current kitchen area, you could do this by changing the seats or bar stools you have around your kitchen island. This could instantly change the look of your current space, with traditional wooden stools being replaced by something with a metallic touch, or with an upholstered chair for that luxurious, glamorous grown up feel.

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What would be your ideal kitchen look? Are you planning any changes to your kitchen?