• Creating an ergonomic kitchen

    by  • October 30, 2014

    Woodstock round kitchen

    Ergonomics is the study and design of equipment and devices that fit the human body and its cognitive abilities. Applied to kitchen layouts, it focuses on creating a smooth, intuitive passage through the space, as well as the most efficient and comfortable cooking environment. Worktops and cabinets are positioned to fit the physicality of the user and the job in hand, provisions and utensils are stored where they are most frequently used, and sinks and appliances are located to encourage  logical movement between tasks. Paying attention to sight lines, traffic flow and entry and exit points at the planning stage is paramount. ‘An ergonomically designed kitchen can save an incredible amount of time and energy and generally make life easier,’ says Nicola Holden of Nicola Holden Designs.

    Kitchen designer and lecturer Johnny Grey has developed an ergonomics-based design concept he calls ‘soft geometry’, which involves using curved cabinetry so that people flow like water around obstacles. ‘Sharp edges alert the body’s fight-and-flight response mechanism, which takes priority over any other activities the brain might be engaged with, such as cooking or socialising,’ he explains. Reducing sharp edges leaves you free to naturally progress through the kitchen uninterrupted. Start by establishing the key entrance and exit points, to keep the working heart of the kitchen away from busy traffic routes. In an open-plan space, think about the smooth passage from A to B at busy times in the day, for example, how to get food safely and quickly from the kitchen area to the table. Make clearing up afterwards a breeze by ensuring the dishwasher and sink are near the dining space. As a rule, soft seating should be furthest from the cooking zone, but it still needs to be easily accessed, without having to squeeze past diners. In the heart of the kitchen, a tighter footprint is required to reduce travel for the chef, but it’s still preferable that two people can pass easily without having to turn sideways. ‘A walkway could go down to 80cm-wide at the absolute minimum, and that would be in a galley-style kitchen, but you’ve got to take into account what’s in the way. For example, where a fridge door opens the walkway will require more space – this point is often the busiest in the kitchen,’ says Richard Moore of Martin Moore & Company.

    The demand for larger living spaces has had a major impact on layout. ‘Once, the ‘working triangle’ of the hob, sink and fridge encompassed the entire space. Now it’s often just one corner of a much bigger triangle that includes eating, entertaining, playtime and relaxation,’ explains Richard Davonport. Adding an island is one of the most popular ways to keep the ‘working triangle’ principle intact while also separating the cooking area from the rest of the room. Incorporating a sink and/or hob helps to centralise food preparation, bringing the chef into the action.

    Cooking for pleasure has also had an influence on layouts and it’s now common to establish two working triangles. ‘One triangle should allow one user to have full access to the cooking area, fridge and sink without obstructions, and the other should offer the second user access to the sink, fridge and working surface or seating area without having to clash with the first user,’ explains Jamee Kong of DesignSpaceLondon. ‘This ergonomically-sound arrangement allows the chef to work in peace while the second user prepares food, or it simply allows access to the sink and fridge area without disturbing the chef.’

    Small kitchens are often considered the most ergonomically efficient due to the  proximity of all key elements. A galley layout is preferable. Arranged logically, this layout allows the chef to move up and down the space without wasting a step.

    While storage is naturally scarce in small kitchens, those with the largest, open-plan rooms are often surprised to find themselves short on cupboard space. There may be more cubic feet, but there is also far more to accommodate. Dining tables and sofas are  massive space guzzlers and the removal of dividing walls also reduces the vertical area against which base units and wall cabinets can be fitted.  ‘As a result, the trend for living kitchens has forced far more innovative and integral storage options to come to the fore, which is also great for those who can’t go open-plan,’ says Sara Wells of Doca UK. A few possibilities include slimline pull-out larders that promise easy viewing and access within a minimal width, plinth drawers that make use of the space under base units and magic corner fittings that transform corner units. Inside, utensil and pan dividers, plate pegs and spice racks will  help to pack everything neatly away.

    ​When seeking maximum ergonomic efficiency, it’s the location of your storage, rather than the amount, that counts. A kitchen is at its operational peak when storage is consigned to specific operational zones. Blum leads the way in storage ergonomics with its Dynamic Space concept, which sub-divides the kitchen into five zones: consumables, non-consumables, cleaning, preparation and cooking. Each of these  zones is strategically designed and organised to offer optimum storage and access to commodities, implements, utensils and equipment. Not only are the correct items stored where they are most frequently used, but the most frequently used pan should be in the top drawer rather than bottom to reduce the times you need to bend down.

    Personalising the installation heights of worktops and cabinets to precisely fit your body contours can really influence cooking comfort, particularly if you are especially short or tall. Ideally, the preparation surface should be 4-5cm below the elbow height of the main user of the kitchen, which means the ‘industry standard’ height of 90cm may not necessarily prove the most comfortable. ‘There are also benefits to installing different heights according to use,’ says Laurence Pidgeon. ‘For example, the sink should be higher to compensate for the fact that the bottom of the sink, where you are working, is 20cm below worktop level.’ It is also beneficial to have the hob lower than 90cm so that you can see into the pans when cooking. ‘75cm – the standard height for a dining table – is ideal for beating eggs and baking,’ adds Laurence . However, although it is ergonomically preferable to have worksurfaces at different levels, it is not always ideal visually. Junctions between different heights can also cause problems, especially in a small kitchen, where edges are likely to result in things toppling off. ‘It is easier to vary worksurface heights in large kitchens as you can have the island at one height and the run of units along the wall at another, without it jarring visually,’ advises Laurence. ‘By adjusting the height of the plinth by, say, 50mm on the island and the wall units, you can create different work heights but maintain the look of the kitchen as the cabinet doors will have the same dimensions.’

    With wall units, the bottom shelf should always be at or below eye level so that you can see right to the back. ‘Place larger items, such as cereals, on the highest shelves, as you can still reach the bottom of the packet, and keep lower shelves for smaller items such as spices. I advise clients to have the tallest wall units possible as they provide the most volume for your money,’ says Laurence. Also consider the depth of worktops versus the length of your arms. Deep worktops offer the potential for extra storage at the back but should be avoided if they still require a stretch to reach. ‘A common depth for worksurfaces is 75cm, but this means that things are set a long way back. I prefer a 60cm deep worksurface that is then raised for the final 15cm to create a handy shelf for keeping spices etc to hand,’ adds Laurence, creating an ergonomically sound kitchen space that will work for any scheme.



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    December/January 2015 issue – on sale today

    by  • October 30, 2014


    Our brilliant December/January 2015 issue goes on sale today.

    With Christmas just a matter of weeks away the demands on your kitchen have never been greater.

    So, this month we’ll show you how to get the best out of an open plan layout. How to sail through the prep with the latest food mixers and take the strain out of entertaining with professional-standard appliances. Plus we have a selection of beautiful serving dishes, the coolest portable radios and festive decorating ideas.

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    Side orders

    by  • October 29, 2014

    BK Sourcebook Sideboards Fishpools

    The sleek Cattelan Tropez matt-lacquer sideboard, H72 x W222 x D48cm, costs £2,299, Fishpools


    Bars, buffets and sideboards were all the rage in the 1960s and 70s, but they suddenly fell out of favour, only returning to our consciousness via corny TV cameos – cue Pat Butcher’s home bar! But with more of us entertaining at home these days, they’re back in favour and slicker than ever.

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    Beautiful new mosaic tiles

    by  • October 27, 2014

    Sicis mosiac tiles

    I’ve always thought mosaic tiles were only really suitable for bathrooms, however as you can see from these beautiful schemes, from Sicis, mosaic tiles can help you create a stunning and unique kitchen scheme.

    Sicis is an Italian company known worldwide for its amazing mosaics. Above a pattern of over-sized bright blue flowers creates a striking feature wall.

    Sicis mosaic tiles

    They also work brilliantly as a bold and bright splashback.

    Or why not use them to create an eye-catching floor like this? Here, they’ve kept the walls and cabinetry neutral and made the floor the star.

    Sicis mosaic tiles


    Porcelanosa, also have a stunning new range of white and black mosaic tiles inspired by the creativity of traditional Italian artisans; The L’Antic Colonial’s Atelier collection.

    The White light tiles are an elegant and contemporary collection, made up of a range of patterns, including Floral, Glamour and Intuition. The Black tiles are stylish and modern and are made up of the same range of patterns.

    The glass tiles are hand-cut and assembled and are suitable for walls and floors with light traffic.

    Here’s a close up of the bold and dramatic Floral Black mosaic tiles.



    Not sure if mosaic tiles will work in your kitchen? Then check out these three very different schemes.



    Here, the mosaic feature wall creates a real focal point in this contemporary kitchen and along with the glossy black cabinetry adds a touch of glamour.


    A simple geometric design has been painted onto these white mosaic tiles to create a bold, graphic pattern.


    The neutral mosaic tiled splashback provides a nice contrast to the black gloss appliances in this modern kitchen.

    For more kitchen tiles ideas, click here.



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    Kitchen ‘wallpaper’

    by  • October 20, 2014


    Now here’s a quick and easy way to update your kitchen. Tile effect wallpaper, from Kitchen Walls.

    You can simply glue the wallpaper over your existing tiles. It’s easy to apply and easy to remove and it’s flame retardant, water and UV resistant and simple to keep clean.

    Above, we have my favourite, a design called Portugal 1401.

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    Woven charm

    by  • October 17, 2014


    Basket weave floor

    Flooring offers a great opportunity to make a real statement in the kitchen and this unusual Basket Weave pattern by Sicis will certainly turn heads. One of several designs in the company’s SiciStone mosaics collection, it’s made by water jets cutting slabs of stone and marble, and is then hand-finished with inserts of glass and metal. The result is an intricate motif in a smart, luxe and contemporary finish. What’s not to love? From £840sq m.

    For more statement flooring, check out these fabulous tiles by The Stone and Ceramic Warehouse

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    Cooking on gas

    by  • October 15, 2014

    BK Sourcebook Gas hobs

    Induction hobs may offer instant flame-free heat, but thanks to its affordability and controllability, gas cooking remains a firm favourite in today’s households. ‘Gas also has a sense of theatre,’ says Juliana Sado, senior brand marketing manager at Whirpool. ‘The live flame of an impressive wok burner is a great place to focus when entertaining. It creates atmosphere and drama, as well as delicious food.’

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    Fabulous flooring ideas

    by  • October 13, 2014



    Pierre du Mont is a newly quarried stone, from Paris Ceramics, that has been hand-distressed to replicate the look of antique reclaimed stone.

    The characterful flagstones are highly practical and hardwearing and will look good in both contemporary and traditional kitchen schemes.

    If you’re looking for new kitchen flooring, you’re spoilt for choice. Here’s a selection for you…


    Be adventurous with a statement floor. These vinyl tiles add interest to a large space and contrast nicely to the plain cabinetry.


    Wooden flooring will bring warmth and character to your kitchen. These extra wide floorboards work particularly well in this spacious kitchen.

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    Creating a greener kitchen

    by  • October 10, 2014

    Little Greene

    When renovating a home, the responsible approach is to include as many green choices as possible. From the materials you choose to appliances designed to save power, water and money, there are many ways in which kitchen and appliance manufacturers make their products more eco-friendly. For some, it’s in the production methods – for example, powering their manufacturing plants on timber offcuts, or boosting the efficiency of machines to reduce the carbon footprint. Then there’s the trend towards vintage or antique finds. With so many ways to go green, you’ll be surprised at just how easy creating an eco kitchen is.

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    Hot pots

    by  • October 8, 2014

    BK Sourcebook tefal cookwareCast-iron pans may seem like an old-fashioned choice but this trusty cookware is a must for modern kitchens, as they produce wholesome homemade meals packed with flavour. The one thing that may have put you off investing in a set is their extreme heaviness. Now you can enjoy the benefits cast-iron cooking without the weight using Tefal’s new Mineral Signature cookware.

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    The Italian job

    by  • October 3, 2014


    Handleless kitchen and vintage table

    Nobody does contemporary kitchen design quite like the Italians and this sleek scheme by Gory Cucine is no exception. Embracing the current hot trends for handleless cabinetry and charcoal grey, GC’s clever designers have cutting-edge style well and truly in the bag. We love the characterful addition of this vintage-style table and mid-century Eames chairs. Definitely our kitchen crush of the week! Gory Cucine kitchens from £20,000.

    Looking for more contemporary kitchen inspiration? How about this striking black and wood design by Siematic.

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