When you are planning a new kitchen or refurbishing old kitchen furniture, the first decisions that have to made are about what you are going to put in it; which items of equipment, and then which brand and which models of those particular items. The choice is bewildering, so brace yourself to bring a really cool and critical mind to the job.
Think of all the things that may be involved. Kitchen units, of course, and then the following: cooker, sink, refrigerator, freezer, washing machine, tumble drier, dishwasher, microwave oven, sink grinder, extractor fan and hood – and that is before you even consider such . small, free-standing items as coffee grinders, food mixers, electric kettles and so on. But do you need them all? Note, I say need, not want. As I mentioned in the previous chapter, advertising has gulled many of the more impressionable amongst us into believing that it is really our right to possess every single one of the above items. But if it is a workable and attractive kitchen you are after, you will work out your genuine needs before surrounding yourself with a plethora of goods, some of which you rarely use. That way you will not only cut down on expense but you will also avoid clutter and confusion in what is inevitably one of the busiest and most frequently used rooms in the house.
By saying this I am not in any way advocating a streamlined, clinical-looking kitchen as the only answer (though for some people it may well suit the book), but just pointing out that everything you plan for should have its purpose and pay for the space it occupies in terms of the amount of times it is used. For example, an excess of cupboards in the shape of expensive units can simply encourage the hoarding of unnecessary junk which will Ianguish there for years until somebody has the energy or the willpower to dump it. Or conversely, superfluous cupboards can remain empty, their only apparent function to act as wall coverings rather like hyper-expensive wallpaper.
What a waste of money! So assess your needs realistically, remembering that new acquisitions very often replace old ones which should then be thrown away. lf you are just starting off family life, with one or two small children and perhaps another planned, you will be sensible to allow for a few more possessions than you have. lf, on the other hand, your grown-up children have just left home and the household has contracted (perhaps you have moved into a flat, rather than the house, and it is for that you are planning a kitchen), you will be stupid to do so. And what about all those gleaming pieces of machinery which leer so seductively from the glossy coloured magazine pages? There is that huge trunkshaped freezer, for instance, which the salesman assures you will save a fortune in petrol bills to the shops, meat bought in daily consumable quantities, etc.
Well, this fortune will not be saved if you live close to a major shopping street, if you are a small family who entertain very little, and if your back garden does not yield quantities of soft fruit and vegetables. You would be better off with a reasonably proportioned refrigerator/freezer, leaving the otheregreat yawning monster for the countrywoman with a large family and prolific garden. Nor will you want a double oven if your entertaining is normally done on a small scale, a tumbledrier if you have both indoor and outdoor hanging space for wet clothes, or a large and expensive washing machine if what you are planning is a small weekday pied-a-terre with your main home in the country. There is a great deal in favour of each and every one of the appliances mentioned, and there are some households which will run much more smoothly if they have each and every one of them. But for most households, this is not true.
Think about how you live, and how you intend to live over the next ten years with your new kitchen furniture (it may not work out quite as planned, but you can try), then make your purchases accordingly. To help you, there follows a brief description of what is available, what is new and what is best- best meaning best designed and best value.