At very least you need a continuous run of worktop starting at the side of the refrigerator, linking the refrigerator with the cooker, the cooker with the sink unit and extending to the other side of the sink. The worktop should be one level, not stepped up or down. Ideally the run should continue beyond the work triangle so that, as well as providing an all-important surface for food preparation and the setting down of dishes, it can, at its extension, be used as a family snack counter or supplementary preparation surface when, for instance, you are catering for a party.
Since in many kitchens the worktop has to double as snacks counter, at some points in the run the space beneath should be clear so that people can sit down to eat and stools can be tucked in when not in use. At these points the worktop can be hinged to the wall so that, when necessary, it can be set back against the wall to save floor space. Or, at points in its length, an extra leaf can be hinged to its front edge to provide a deeper working surface on occasion.
The worktop must be heat-resistant to take hot dishes from the oven, easy to wipe clean and durable.
Plastic laminates, available in a variety of plain colours and grained effects to match almost any kitchen decoration scheme, are a practical and economic choice. Ceramic tiles and marble, good-looking and hard-wearing but more costly, are among alternatives. You can fit new worktop surfaces to old or worn counters, using the method and adhesive recommended by the particular manufacturer. Or you can surface a whitewood or plywood fitment that you have assembled yourself. When working with a contact cement you cannot afford to be experimental; once the cement is applied and the two surfaces cohere they are well nigh impossible to pull apart.
The kitchen must meet the individual ventilation requirements of the various appliances in it. There must also be means of combating steam, condensation and cooking smells. Alternatively or in addition to a hood over the cooker, an extractor fan should be fixed as high up on the window wall as possible over the area of the cooker and sink. Some extractor fans only emit stale air: others both emit stale air and bring in fresh air. Desirably the extractor in a kitchen should produce 15-18 air changes an hour when operating.
Kitchen flooring should be non-slip, easy to clean, resilient and noise-muffling. Vinyl sheet or tiles are a good choice, particularly cushioned vinyls which when wet are less slippery than the smooth types. Also suitable are vinyl-covered cork and polyurethane-sealed wood. Although very durable, traditional quality floorings such as ceramic tiles, brick, flagstone and slate are not as resilient or quiet as younger materials and may be more difficult to keep clean.
Antiseptic white kitchens, gleaming with chrome, are to the taste of some people. Others prefer warmer, more leisurely looks, particularly where the kitchen area encompasses meals and informal entertaining.
Whatever your preference, ease of maintenance and cleaning is the primary consideration. All surfaces — walls, ceiling, floor, counter tops and cupboards — should be washable and proof against damage by splashed food or liquids. Gloss or vinyl emulsion paints, vinyl wall-coverings or ceramic tiles are among practical choices for the wall surfaces. For economy, you could confine ceramic tiles to splashback areas. Decoratively effective splashbacks are provided by self-adhesive plastic fabrics in large-motif patterns and strong colours; these can be applied, too, to the fronts of cupboards, giving the kitchen an overall theme.
Pine cladding enhances both modern streamlined kitchens and traditional cottagey kitchens. You can apply it yourself by fixing vertical battens to the walls at intervals and pinning the pine planks to the battens. Give the pine a finish of two coats of polyurethane varnish.
1 You can make a plate rack by setting
lengths of dowelling into a plank of wood.
2 A three-tier spices rack can be wall-fitted near the cooker.
3 If there is space to spare on a narrow wall, make a wine rack by fixing dowelling at angles to a vertical post.
4 The cook in the family will welcome a memory board. This can be a square of pegboard or cork on which she can pin shopping lists or recipe notes.
A utility room is valuable spill-over space from the kitchen and is usually situated between the kitchen and the back door. Since it may store the lawn mower and other garden implements and stores, gumboots, overshoes and sports gear, it can be a rough-and-ready room (e.g. flagstone floor, uncladded brick walls). The utility room may accommodate the freezer, the “cool cupboard”, the washing machine, the spin dryer, an airing line, perhaps an ironing board and iron. If there is sufficient space, the utility room can also serve as an indoor games room, accommodating perhaps a table tennis table.
The washing machine is best installed near a deep sink, supplied with hot and cold water for pre-soaking clothes. If the spin dryer is a separate unit, it should be placed near the washing machine.