Planning for a New Kitchen

Thereandrsquo;s nothing like a good home-cooked meal. But as any chef will agree, the key to successful cooking often lies in a well-kept kitchen. Creating a gourmet feast requires room to manoeuvre, and an organised space is much easier to keep clean. So, if your work surfaces are looking worse for wear, it could be time for a complete overhaul. But kitchens cost serious money, so you donandrsquo;t want to get it wrong. The trick is to plan exactly what you want, and - most importantly - what you can afford... not forgetting home insurance to protect your new investment.

By taking a few simple precautions, you can make some great savings and avoid any hidden costs. Firstly decide whether you want to work with some or most of what you've already got, or whether you'd prefer to start from scratch. Look at your current layout and the ways in which it could be improved.

To work well, the fridge, cooker and sink should be in a triangle so you can move easily between the three. Avoid any wasted space and consider where utensils can be stored. Also, leave yourself enough surface space to prepare meals. The colour scheme is very important. If you have a small space, opt for light tones to make the room appear bigger. While fitting tiles above kitchen counters can make cleaning and wiping the area much easier too.

See the light

The choice of lighting will also have a considerable impact on the room. Install a spotlight above the cooker, so you can execute dishes with military precision. If youandrsquo;re lost for ideas, DIY stores, kitchen showrooms, magazines and home improvement TV shows can be a great source of inspiration. Speak to shop assistants and ask for their advice. You could even create a scrap book of images and colour charts.

Clever spending

Take measurements, make a list of the utilities already in place, and work out a budget. Your units, appliances, tiles and worktops are likely to make up the bulk of the cost... but don't forget the flooring, lighting, paint and/or wallpaper, handles, taps, kickboard, end panels, pelmet, etc. All of these things will add to your budget and the length and complexity of the project. Some more affordable kitchens are available to take away that day from DIY stores, but most need to be ordered and this can take weeks, even months, so plan your project accordingly. The higher spec the kitchen, the longer it's likely to take.

Cook off!

Now, think about actually installing the kitchen. Doing it yourself will help keep costs down, but do you have the right DIY skills? Professionals should be called in to do all the electrical and gas work, and only experienced DIYers should tackle the plumbing. Good tradespeople tend to be busy, so itandrsquo;s worth getting quotes well in advance.

Remember, as with any building work, there are always risks of damage - so make sure your home insurance is up to date and youandrsquo;ve got the right level of cover by comparing different quotes with, for more advice, read our article Got the Builders In? Make Sure You Donandrsquo;t Invalidate Your Home Insurance. In addition, donandrsquo;t forget to update your buildings and contents insurance to reflect any interior changes youandrsquo;ve made... You donandrsquo;t want to be left underinsured.