Amanda Hanley by Design |  Interiors, kitchens, furniture and fabric | Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire
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Kitchen Confidential Kitchen Confidential Kitchen Confidential Kitchen Confidential

Kitchen Confidential

Interior designer Amanda Hanley reveals her expert tips for your home-decor projects, starting with an insider guide to planning the perfect kitchen.

'Modern rustic' or 'cool country': these are the kitchen looks I'm asked for more and more, from clients in the Cotswolds, in London or in both. If you want a truly classic country kitchen with modern, hi-tech functionality, you need bespoke design, proper craft construction and some decent advice. Here are a few tips and tricks to bear in mind if you're thinking of embarking on your own kitchen update.


First and foremost, ask yourself what you use your kitchen for. Yes, essentially it's for cooking and sometimes eating and there are basic requirements such as a fridge, sink and cooker, but we all use our kitchens differently and we all have different ideas of what constitutes 'a necessity'. Some like a breakfast bar for reading the papers with a coffee in the morning; others would rather use the space for a pro-quality marble-topped station where they can perfect their baking. If you're a busy professional with little time to cook, your dream kitchen will be very different from those of the family matriarch who loves to cook and chat and get everyone round the table at once.

Secondly, consider how much space you have to work with: be realistic about what's possible and the shape of the room you're designing for. Don't be disheartened if your existing kitchen is small, many professional kitchens are based on the galley-style format of yachts, with parallel rows of units that make for efficient prep with everything within easy reach.

Designing kitchens (or any space) with children in mind definitely challenges you to look at a room and its practicalities from all angles, often you'll need to think outside the box when trying to make it work from both a design and function point of view. The ideal is a great design that will create a layout that guides them away from danger without sacrificing style or losing storage space. If you can, create a special area for younger kids away from the oven and hob where they can eat together, get crafty or play mini-chef while you get on with the dinner prep. A small table and chairs, an inviting box of paper and pens or a bucket of chalks and a framed area covered with blackboard paint are a great place to start. And making sure you choose a dining table that will improve with age and that you don't mind developing a little 'character', knocks, scrapes and spills are inevitable with family life.


Less is definitely more when it comes to kitchen design. Go for fewer, large-scale pieces that add work space and make a statement, and your kitchen will have longevity as well as being attractive and practical.

You'll have heard of the 'working triangle', the kitchen-design mantra that places your three main focal points (sink, fridge and hob) within close range. A compact kitchen is a cook's best friend, because there's less distance between storage, prep and cooking stations. If you have to cross a huge expanse to find, rinse or chop your next ingredient, you can't keep an eye on the stove, so consider creating a freestanding island in parallel with a longer run of units for maximum efficiency.

Islands are no longer a novelty now, but seen as an essential. they are today's kitchen table, creating extra work surfaces, storage and a spot for casual dining, as well as maximising the available floor space and creating 'flow' and focus in larger spaces. You should also consider installing a smaller secondary prep sink or a pot-filling tap near your hob or range - it might sound like a luxury, but for a keen cook (or a busy one), it's invaluable, and saves you crossing the kitchen to fill and carry heavy pots.

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