1. DRAW UP YOUR WANT-LIST
Arguably the most fun part of a project, this is where you get to dream up your timeless kitchen, without actually spending any money. “Start by opening your eyes and imagination to everything,” advises Merlin Wright, design director at Plain English Design.
2. FOCUS ON THE FUTURE
To ensure longevity, you’ll need to “think beyond your immediate needs”, advises the architect Alan Drumm, founder of the kitchen design consultancy Uncommon Projects. For example, will you still be able to use an eye-height oven when you’re old, “or should it be located below the kitchen counter?”
3. CHOOSE APPLIANCES CAREFULLY
Before planning the kitchen layout, you need to work out what appliances you need to allow for, as well as your storage requirements, says Alan, “and build your project around that”. Think carefully about what functionality you really need - for example, people with high-spec ovens often only use a small percentage of their capability.
4. GET THE STORAGE JUST RIGHT
The easiest way to feel like you've outgrown a kitchen is for it to not have the right kitchen storage. As soon as the cupboards are full or the counter is over-crowded, it'll feel like anything but a timeless space.
5. FOLLOW MODERN THINKING ON LAYOUTS
This is the time for thinking flow, proportion and symmetry. Even for a small kitchen layout, Merlin recommends “method acting” how you’re going to live in the space: “We actually mock it up with boxes, or by cutting out the shapes in paper on the floor. It really pays to work out how the space is going to be divided.” Get the layout wrong, he adds, “and you’ll be unhappy with the result and will want to change it”. But it’s not just about practicality, he adds: “There has to be an emotional quality; it needs to feel like a happy place to be in.”
6. USE MATERIALS THAT AGE WELL
Fashionable materials can really date a kitchen - just think how cherry, maple and ash are all associated with the 1980s and 1990s, says Merlin. But if you go with choices that purposefully age well then you are future-proofing an aesthetic which will only get better with time.
7. DON'T HAVE POLISHED SURFACES
The gleam - or lack of it - is just as important as the material, Merlin advises. “Use a honed finish - satin not polished - on stone, as the polished aesthetic shows flaws more readily,” he says. By going matte, your counter is less likely to rile you by showing up streaks, stains or imperfections that happen over time.
8. MIX AND MATCH HANDLES
As for hardware (handles, knobs and hinges), it’s less critical that they’re timeless, he says: “This can be easily changed, and, like buttons on a coat, can completely transform the character of the joinery.”
9. USE COLOR SPARINGLY
We’re back to the fun part again. Or are we? “I’ve been designing kitchens for about 12 years,” says Alan, “and the kitchen colors we always come back to are black, grey and white. It creates a very easy background to everything else that’s happening.”