Since time began, the kitchen has been the heartbeat of the house.
It is where food is stored, meals are prepared and people congregate. Visitors can come to your home and never see the bathroom, but everyone sees the kitchen.
The bread winner of any family usually thinks they are the most important person in the household. But, if the bread maker doesn’t have the proper facility, or is unsatisfied with their domain … the chances of that being a happy home are pretty slim.
Before you start picking out laminates and counter tops, contemplate exactly how your kitchen will be used.
What appliances are required?
How much storage will you need?
Eat in or separate dining room?
The requirements for a bachelor who can exist with a coffee pot and a corkscrew are quite different from a hungry family of five.
Appliances are the engines that drive any kitchen.
Choose well and build the rest around them. If the kitchen will be used extensively and many meals prepared, shop for cooking surfaces(hobs) and ovens carefully.
I recommend the ceramic hobs. They’re stylish, easy to use and easy to clean. For those who cook frequently, induction systems are magic. Induction hobs use some kind of magnetic magic to heat only the cooking surface and not the whole pan.
The heat comes up nearly as quick as gas and efficiently uses electricity. Make sure to get a hood or smoke ejector to match your cooking style. If there is a Thai chef in the house this is very important as they seem to have an insatiable need to burn fish sauce in a wok.
Most people need and use a microwave, but not every one needs a conventional or convection oven. My favorite solution is a combination microwave/convection oven. They are space efficient, can prepare any meal and are programmable. They are kind of pricey, but worth the money if you actually use them.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when choosing appliances in the kitchen is to “over fridge”. Recently I went to a friend’s house to marvel at his 2 meter double-door stainless juggernaut only to open it and find a half bottle of spoiled milk, 2 beers and his wife’s face cream.
He was decidedly “over refrigerated”.
Having the Swiss Army Knife of kitchens with a dishwasher, wine cooler, ice maker and automatic dog-polisher may impress your friends, but unless you truly use all that stuff, it is a severe waste of space and money.
Remember, a kitchen is a tool, not a status symbol.
Without a doubt the most important decision you will make regarding your kitchen is the materials to construct it with. Kitchen cabinets can be made of a wide variety of materials. Some will last a lifetime … others start disintegrating ten minutes after they are installed. When selecting materials, it is a bad time to get overly frugal.
Avoid cabinets made of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). It is the very definition of planned obsolescence. MDF is literally pulp paper with resin or glue mixed together and formed into sheets No matter what coating is sprayed onto it or what space age polymer is vacuum affixed to it … eventually it will succumb to moisture and pressure from granite counter tops and such. An MDF kitchen is not built to last.
What I recommend is 18mm moisture resistant particle board, grade E1 or E2.
This is real wood for making real furniture. It is heavy, tough, accepts all manner of finishing well and can hold up even the bulkiest countertops. And most importantly, it is made to last. How you finish your cabinetry speaks to the style you want to create. For a wood finish, go with a good quality veneer.
For a textured finish, try using a laminate and applying whatever paint color you want over it.
Perhaps the most popular finish is high-gloss. Buyers beware … not all high-gloss is created equal.
Most kitchens in model condos or lower priced kitchen shops are made of MDF with PVC plastic vacuum sealed over it for a high gloss look. It might be cheaper, but the “high” will soon wear out of the “high gloss” and discoloration is a big problem, especially with lighter colors.
High gloss laminates are also popular, but not long after installation, the dark edges of the laminate sheet will start to show. For a truly reflective high gloss, I recommend using a car lacquer finish. Car lacquer is a little more expensive, but once you’ve made the comparison … you just can’t opt for the plastic over paper Mache model.
Choosing countertops can be confusing as there are an overwhelming number of materials to use. Corian is a manufactured surface that is tough as nails and looks good, but can be quite expensive.
Natural stone is also gorgeous but pricey … and isn’t necessarily the easiest to maintain. Marble is breathtakingly beautiful and not so expensive, but stains and is easily damaged, Good old granite is the kitchen top of choice in these parts and for good reason … it looks good, is reasonably priced and virtually indestructible.
Hardware like hinges, handles and knobs are also a detail not to be overlooked.
Buy real stainless steel from a manufacturer you know like the Danish company Kvik.
The same goes for taps, faucets and sinks. Don’t go running for the cheapest product. The sink and water tap are the most used equipment in any kitchen. Get the good ones.
As a final note, please be honest with yourself about your spatial reasoning and construction knowledge.
Hiring an interior design firm or a company that specializes in kitchens to help you could save you time, money and headache. Find one that can create your ideas and tweak them with computer 3D graphics.
In this way you can see exactly what you are going to get before you spend one satang.
By Bart Walters