Kitchen details you will love now and your future self (and wallet) will thank you for.
Read time: 8 minutes
Let’s face it, upgrading your kitchen costs a ton. So when you do it, you want to make it last for as long as possible.
Part of this means choosing durable materials, another is using classic decoration that is the least likely to go out of fashion or send people running to the hills if/when you ever sell. The factor people often forget though is making sure it can grow with you and your family’s needs throughout your lifetime.
So here are some little details (ranging from the incredibly simple to the incredibly fancy-pants) to think about each time you come to upgrade – things I bet you will love now, but which your future self (and wallet) will also thank you for.
Let’s talk taps. Mixer taps are infinitely easier to turn than cross head ones. Cross heads may look more authentic with your farmhouse Butler sink but they are the natural enemy of weak wrists and reduced grip strength. There are such a huge range now, there’s something to go with every decor.
Boiling water taps are also becoming increasingly popular. Giving you 100 degree water on demand, a boiling water tap does away with the need for a kettle (you can read my thoughts on kettles as buckets of boiling pain in this blog post), making them a great space saver for smaller spaces or just for making your work surfaces beautifully sleek. As well as time, it can also save you fat cash and be good for the environment. While expensive to install (we’re talking something like £700), I did the maths and calculated that it would save my household approximately £70 per year just on making cups of tea. But you can also use it for filling saucepans for veg or pasta, hot water bottles (my obsession in winter), anything you need boiling water for.
This one by Quooker also has a hose attachment which is pretty handy for bringing the water exactly where you need it. Whatever you choose, think about working in some flat space behind or to the side of the tap where you can safely balance your cup or pan.
Put things exactly where you want them in easy reach (in or out of sight) with suction cup shelves, rails and hooks. It also clears your work surface of clutter.
Pop some clever storage gadgets in your corner cupboards so you don’t have to bend or stretch. Howdens do a great selection. Sure you might lose a tiny bit of storage space at the far reaches of your cupboard, but who keeps much there anyway except the fondue set that Aunt Flo bought in 1986 that comes out about as often as Halley’s Comet, or your very own Leaning Tower of Tupperware?
There are also ones that bring things down to you, like very obliging cupboard butlers.
Or, if you can’t get to the cupboard, then the cupboard must come to you! Why not try using these clever adjustable wall hanging brackets to hang your cupboards, which allow you to simply raise or lower the level of your units and worktops to change as your needs change.
Side opening ovens allow you to get closer to your oven, so less awkward leaning, lifting and twisting over a pull-down door required while negotiating your finest roast dinner. Or get really fancy and get a Neff Slide and Hide oven like on the Great British Bake Off where the door disappears underneath completely. Consider what height you install your appliances at too. Mid level requires less bending so you won’t have to get on your knees like the Bake Off contestants every time you want to check on the progress of your soggy bottoms.
Remote control extractor fans, rather than pull out hoods, make keeping your kitchen fume-free a doddle without stretching.
Fisher & Paykel do a drawer opening dishwasher too that can be put at your desired height, which are very swanky and make it easier to load.
Talking of drawers, who doesn’t love a pan drawer? So much easier to organise everything, see what you’ve got and access those pesky saucepans at the back (always the one you want, right?).
You can go one step further and make any of your cupboard internal shelving pull out too, making reaching to the back a complete breeze.
In fact your unit height is completely up to you – if you are tall, consider raising them – if you are shorter, make them lower. Or rather than settling on one specific height forever (which you may need to change at a later date) consider these handy brackets to hang your cabinets on which allow you to pretty simply (compared to not having them anyway) change the height depending on your needs. I also love the clear space underneath. In a smaller kitchen this gives a great feeling of space, plus an added bonus is you can get your feet underneath so you can get closer to your counter tops. Great for those with big feet! You just need to be careful about overloading as each bracket has a maximum of 90kg (so not for your collection of of Le Creuset!)
I have seen some clever folks utilise the dead space under their cabinets too to make a handy toe-kick step that opens with a simple push of the foot. Great for cooking with the kids, reaching things on high shelves, or just for tasks requiring a little extra force from above like kneading bread or using a hand mixer. Handy place for toddling kids to sit too.
I am in love with sneaky additional pull-out work surfaces that can give you extra counter space as if by magic. Great if you have a small kitchen, but they also allow you to sit and prep rather than stand as you can pop your legs underneath on a chair if you fancy. I love the Worktop Plus by Magnet (video below) but there are lots of clever ways to incorporate something like this – a hidden wheeled unit or a pull out table disguised as a drawer.
If you are lucky and have the room, consider leaving a bit of space under your sink and hob rather than completely fitted cupboards to allow you to pull up a chair while doing the washing up or cooking. I have seen people hide this space with cupboard doors and include a wheeled storage unit that can come in and out for extra work space. Doesn’t make a lot of difference if you don’t need it, but it can be a life saver if you do. If you want to get really fancy, take a peek at Howdens for all sorts of other clever additions including remote control height adjustable worktops, hobs and sinks.
Built in desks in kitchens as part of the counter space are becoming increasingly popular – a place to do all that life admin that naturally seems to settle in the busiest room in the house – calendars, shopping lists, vouchers, recipes, music, TV, meal plans. Check out this little office nook in a kitchen. With a cork bulletin board backsplash and shelving for all that seemingly NEVER ENDING paperwork, it makes you feel like you are being productive even if you’re just watching TV on your iPad (guilty) while waiting for your potatoes to boil.
Importantly, a desk space is also a great excuse for a chair in the kitchen as, let’s face it, so many tasks in the kitchen require a lot of standing around. Lots of people have breakfast bar stools now but, while great for eating and chatting, they aren’t generally easily movable and can be quite heavy. Choose a chair that can change height and move about and I bet you’ll find yourself using it all over the kitchen to perch when you stir, chop, wash, or wait for your cake to rise.
A nifty wheeled stool will save space and neatly tuck away when not in use. If they are good enough for working folk like beauticians, doctors, scientists and engineers, why not for you in your kitchen (just please be VERY careful if you are moving about with or around hot things)
I can’t imagine it’s going to be too long before there will be pull out perching stools you can have fitted beside your cooker or hob disguised as drawers, much like the pull out work surfaces. Or I bet if you asked, a bespoke kitchen fitter would be able to knock you something up already. If you go down this route, however, I cannot urge you enough to get a professional involved and check load limits, and then check again, but surely we can’t be far away from designers making us something safe and easily available?
Choose larger, longer handles where possible, which also contrast against the colour of your cupboards. While a completely smooth matching finish may offer unfussy clean lines and a wipe-clean dream, bigger, contrasting handles are easier to locate and grip.
The same applies to fridges etc. Many have hidden hand grips but bigger handles give greater surface area to hold onto and give better leverage. If they extend the length of the appliance they can also be be reached no matter your height. It is also more obvious which side you should pull to open (this is the excuse you can also use to finally justify that mint green retro fridge too…).
Contrasting your backsplash, handles, worktops, plugpoints, even taps and other fittings using clever colour choices also make things easier if your vision is less than 20/20. I’m pretty sure adding a dog like in this photo will also make you at least 65% happier.
If you know someone who would find this blog useful please share it with them. I bet you also have a whole bunch of clever kitchen tricks of your own. Please do share them below in the comments so everyone can be inspired.