NWR General Kitchen Advice

Hoping to tap into the incredible collective wisdom of the forum.....

I am currently going through the process of getting a new kitchen. The idea is to put it into what is effectively a newly built room, so we have a relatively blank sheet of paper - but that does mean that we are starting completely from scratch. This turns out to have pros and cons !!

The number of choices that now need to be made is extraordinary. I am starting to wonder if there is any other human endeavour at which so many choices, each with so many possibilities, are compressed into such a short time frame! Ovens, hobs, taps, sinks, cabinetry, extraction, worktops, fridges, freezers, warming drawers, bins, lighting, flooring, sockets...the list goes on. And each manufacturer makes 40 different induction hobs !

It seems like the potential to make a mistake, and be wise after the event, wishing that I'd chosen something else for at least one aspect is pretty high. And so the point of this thread is find out from those who have recently been through the kitchen dilemmas how they got on and what they learned. Maybe I'll pick up some tips and maybe others will too.

In particular, what was not obvious but has turned out to be an inspired decision ? Having lived with your choices, what do you wish you had done or chosen differently ? What unusual item/brand/model/idea/company/gadget did you discover serendipitously and are now so glad that you did.

Keen to hear about things across the spectrum of kitchen decision making...so all thoughts are greatly appreciated!
 
I don't like induction hobs, I like gas, but the range of things available is huge. I went for a seven burner, 4 oven range cooker made by stoves. 2 big multi function ovens, a grill oven and a warming oven. I have, once, used all of it at the same time just to prove a point - bread proving in the warming oven, a big chink of flesh in one multi-oven with veg in the other, the grill oven sorting the starter and all manner of other stuff going on on the hobs. It resulted in far too much food but was great fun. So I'm never going to be short of cooking space. I very rarely use more than three burners at a time and also rarely use more than 2 ovens, but when daughter wants to bake a cake she can do so whilst I'm cooking something else. So my advice is to go large with both hob and ovens. They do an induction version too.

We also use a microwave (anathema to some I know) and we put it in some units across the other side of the kitchen from the rest of the cooking space. Lots of people question this, but it is built-in and is never used for 'microwave meals', only for steaming stuff, which it is remarkably good at. So point 2 would be if you have never had one, get one. There is an art to using it, just the same as 'how long to cook asparagus on the hob'.

Without knowing the layout or size it's hard to suggest practical stuff, but we thought carefully about how many pans/ plates/ knives/ casseroles et etc and looked at different drawer sizes etc before deciding. Lots of 3d computer modelling, but the best thing is to get a load of cardboard boxes in the room and play about with distances from island (if having) to hob, where to put bins, where the fridge goes, how the door opens, etc etc. There is, in every kitchen, a 'cupboard of doom' the one where all the stuff you use all the time, but that is a really awkward shape/size goes and unless you stack it all up 'just so' it will always burst at the seams. So include one such cupboard, then double it in size.

As for appliances - we decided that seeing as we had a blank canvas and we were going to be here for a long time, we'd invest in a decent fridge/freezer combo and went for the Samsung which has a huge amount of internal space, 'American style' which is plumbed in and does filtered water and ice. It's brilliant. You can fit 2 weeks worth of food or a massive party's worth of drinks into it, and the freezer side is plenty big enough.

The one thing you can't change with a kitchen is workspace - that does depend on how big a canvas you have though.

Have fun!

Chris
 
I've always just made do with what was wherever I moved to already and it seems to work perfectly well but if starting from scratch I'd buy the appliances I wanted and then figure out a way to fit them in. There's lots of movable worksurface/storage stuff available from catering suppliers.The dishwasher is unquestionably the most important thing and if you have a big enough kitchen two is even better.
The best cooker, and by a very long distance, I ever had was an early 60s Belling with a ferocious hob and even fiercer eye level grill. Everything I've had since has been tame by comparison.
 
Thanks Chris. The house is not on mains gas - and so induction is probably the direction of travel. I guess we could use gas cylinders - but induction does seem to have some huge advantages.

I perhaps should have stated that in my initial post - but I thought this thread would be more useful for everyone if it was generic rather than being just about my specific circumstances.

Like the idea of a plumbed in fridge. Hadn’t really thought about that.

Tom - funnily enough you’re not the first person to say that two dishwashers is the way to go. We may well go for it.
 
We created 50 square metre kitchen couple of years back so had plenty of space to play with. What we did well...
- Get the experts to fit the kitchen and be there when they do it (we were on holiday and they arsed it up!!)
- If you are into cooking, lots of hooks, shelves around the oven for holding onions, knives, garlic, oils etc
- If you have the space, put the washing machine elsewhere
- double sized fridge!! And agree on plumbed fridge
- we use gas at all times for hobs - RangeMaster are useful if there is ever a nuclear war as you can hide inside and survive
- if you have an island, stick in a plug socket with USB chargers etc, put keep it out of sight - cleaner lines etc.
- you will end up using the same 3 cupboards and drawers 90% of the time
- Wine Glasses: we have little sliding rack things underneath one of our shelves to hold glasses, dangling upside down. Quick and easy access for 6 glasses that we use most of the time

Wine-Cup-Wine-Glass-Holder-Hanging-Drinking-Glasses-Stemware-Rack-Under-Cabinet-Storage-Organizer-Double-Row.jpg_640x640.jpg
 
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I've always just made do with what was wherever I moved to already and it seems to work perfectly well but if starting from scratch I'd buy the appliances I wanted and then figure out a way to fit them in. There's lots of movable worksurface/storage stuff available from catering suppliers.The dishwasher is unquestionably the most important thing and if you have a big enough kitchen two is even better.
The best cooker, and by a very long distance, I ever had was an early 60s Belling with a ferocious hob and even fiercer eye level grill. Everything I've had since has been tame by comparison.

Gas I presume Tom?
 
Hi Jonathan,

Things to consider:
Workflow and how it translates to layout. For example, the route from veg storage to washing to chopping to hob should be easy, no walking around islands. Similarly, I’d plan to have plate and cutlery storage close to the dishwasher to make unloading easier and have the dishwasher close to the sink to make loading easier (I often rinse things before putting in the dishwasher). The bin location is also important!
Look at everything you want to store and then work out a draw or cupboard for it to go in to ensure you have enough storage
Cupboards going right up to the ceiling and storage in the toe kick spaces will give maximise storage space
Extraction is best if the fan is vented externally rather than recirculating. Friends have bought a counter top downward flow extractor fan and are happy with it. I can ask the for details if you like?
I like gas but would go for induction based on what others have said about them.
Get a biiiiiig sink
Which has seemingly good online reviews of appliances. Miele is good for wet appliances but not sure it’s worth the extra expense for their other stuff.
Microwave is useful for steaming veg. A combi oven/microwave could be a good option and I’ll give you an extra or back up oven
Choose work top surface carefully, its very noticeable and has to work hard. Wood isn’t so good near a sink. I like the quartz resin option but they are a bit brittle. Marble is trendy but impractical for all but a dedicated pastry area. Any acid will put it.

Got to go now. Will add more if I think of anything. Good luck!
 
An uncle has two dishwashers. I am full of envy.

Fully agree on sinks - it's amazing how much difference sufficient sink space makes.

My mother in law got multiple ovens - each of which had their own clock. They went out of synch and it drove me mad.

I have always liked the idea of pots and glasses hanging openly and accessible, however when I've seen this in real life kitchens, they do tend to get dirty...

Moving to induction for the first time, if you don't have it, can I believe lead to needing to change a lot of your pans - in particular, even slight concavity can lead to very poor results.

I do hope our contributions will be rewarded by pictures of the final result...
 
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Someone once told me that placing their dishwasher at waist level rather than floor level was the single best decision they'd made about their kitchen.

Is the benefit of 2 dishwashers simply that dirty crockery doesn't pile up while it's running?

You MUST have 2 full size sinks by the way.
 
Location
London
Surgery type taps you can operate with your elbows for when you’re handling/seasoning/stuffing chicken( other birds are available.)
Boiling water tap.
Fridge with ice (cubed and crushed) and water dispenser.
Large bins in cahoots with your council’s recycling policy. We have 3- general,recycling and food waste.
Gas.
 
Like Tom, I've always just made do with what's there when I've moved into somewhere, rather than designing anew.

Personally, I don't have a dishwasher (no room), but rather wish I had a double sink.
Agree that a microwave is useful: they're not just for reheating ready meals. See this thread here.

The biggest bugbear with my current kitchen is that the bins are at the far end of the room to the area where I do all the food preparation. It's only a small kitchen, so that's only 3 or 4 paces away, but scooping up vegetable peelings etc and carrying them invariably results in some ending up on the floor.

My current kitchen also came with carpet fitted, which is frankly pretty disgusting. It's impossible not to spill something occasionally, and a jar of hoisin sauce will still smash when it hits a carpeted floor (I speak from experience). One of these days, perhaps when all the stains have joined together, I will replace it with something that can actually be cleaned. Probably some form of whatever the modern equivalent of linoleum is, rather than tiles, as I think tiles would both cause more damage to dropping things and be damaged by dropping things. Of course, if you're not at all clumsy, this won't matter.

The other thing to consider is extraction. This is particularly important, I think, if you like cooking steak or similar at high heat in pans on the hob. I don't think most domestic "cooker hoods" are really up to the job. Ideally it should vent externally. A few powerful Xpelair type fans in the external wall(s) will also help. Don't skimp on extraction.
 
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Some tremendous ideas here. Many of which I hadn’t even considered. Thanks all.

Waist high dishwasher - now that could be a great idea. Had been thinking about two ovens (one being a 90cm one) and having them at waist height but a dishwasher at that height never crossed my mind!

Yep - we have a microwave. Will keep it but hide it in a cupboard I think. Prefer that idea to having a combi I think and means the second oven (60cm) can be a steam oven.
 
I have a double oven but really wonder if it's necessary, I have scarceIy ever used both at the same time though I suppose the advantage is that you don't have to heat a big one when only a small one is needed. I think we use ovens far too much in this country, a legacy of plentiful coal I suppose.
 
scooping up vegetable peelings etc and carrying them invariably results in some ending up on the floor.
Which reminds me that the new very broad stainless steel chinese cleaver I bought a few weeks ago for all of eleven quid has become immediately indispensable, it can do everything any other knife can do but better and makes transferring such things to pan or bin quite effortless. It even sharpens easily and frankly makes expensive Japanese or German knives seem a bit pointless. I have them but they hardly get a look in these days.
 
Can I just chuck in another one... get a Woll Titan Plus frying pan. Very solid, great non stick performance. Thanks to Tom B for the recommendation.
 
I just don't think you'll use steam as much as you think unless you do it currently. Steaming is only really central to chinese cooking, and it will be noted that they do not steam vegetables, except for roots. The function is generally far more efficient in the pressure cooker.
I've always rather lusted after one of those built in deep fryers though I suppose it's not really a good idea.
 
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Plenty of work/prep space, especially if there are more than one of you in the kitchen prepping/cooking at any one time. There used to be a rule about the triangle of (i think?) fridge, hob, sink with the shortest distances and no obstructions between them. Somewhere to keep a few bottles of wine easily to hand (not for long term storage).
A "cold" cupboard (maybe on an outside wall) for storage of sensitive foodstuffs (oils, vinegars, spices etc.)
USB sockets built into one or two of the sockets.

My ideal kitchen would also have a proper, old fashioned larder (at a nice low temperature) to store cheese, meats etc. at the correct temperature, but not sure I will ever get that!

Whatever you do do not get worktops with wooden edges (like we did!) as the varnish wears off and is a bugger to keep retouching! :mad:
 
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