‘Most underrated’ features that you ‘need’ in your kitchen – ‘can truly be life changing’

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Mark Millar shares his tips for minimalist kitchens

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From cooking to socialising, the kitchen is the focal point of your home, and redesigning your space is a fantastic opportunity to transform not only the look and feel of the room but also to enhance your lifestyle both every day and on special occasions. Renovating your kitchen is a substantial investment in terms of time as well as financially, and so you’ll want to make sure your new space lives up to expectations both practically and stylistically, guaranteeing it stands the test of time for many years to come. Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Ruth Lavender, design expert at Benchmarx Kitchens said: “Designing a new kitchen can be an exciting journey, from picking the colours, materials, and appliances, to watching the design come to life. 

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“There are so many decisions to make, all of which will impact the way you use your space. 

“When you’re swept up in the excitement of it all, or if it’s the first time you’re involved in the process, it can be easy to overlook key details – big and small. 

“Over the years, I’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands of kitchen designs. Here are the most underrated features that you need and shouldn’t forget about.”

One of the most common issues homeowners have when describing their existing kitchen is that there isn’t enough storage – yet there are “fantastic solutions that so often continue to be overlooked”, according to Ruth.

She said: “The versatility and customisation that can be achieved when storage is considered during the early stages of a design can truly be life changing.

“Internal storage, such as integrated carousels and pan drawers, should be an absolute essential to maximise your kitchen usage. 

“You can make the most of every inch of your cupboard space with concealed drawers, pull out wire shelves and storage baskets too.

“You should also think about how you plan to use your kitchen. If you host a lot of dinner parties, for example, you could incorporate a conveniently placed wine cooler or bar area into your plans – freeing up cupboard space as well as creating the wow-factor.”

Those who frequently use their kitchen to work from home, ensure there is adequate storage so to discreetly hide stationery and your laptop at the end of the day.

The expert also notes open shelving as an essential for kitchens due to its “flexibility”.

She said: “Opting for open shelving can create a beautiful visual and add personality to your space. There is so much flexibility in this type of storage and it can be used to go maximalist or more pared-back, depending on the look you want to go for. 

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“You can create an airy, open feel in a smaller kitchen by keeping clean lines and simplistic crockery, or pack the personality in with accessories galore.”

More than style, open shelving can be functional too, allowing easy access to all your everyday kitchen essentials like dishes, glasses, and cookware. 

Ruth said: “It can also make tasks like unloading the dishwasher that little bit easier, as you don’t have to open and shut cabinet doors.

“Open shelving can also be used to store cookbooks, display house plants and decorative vases; making it hugely versatile and easy to re-style.”

Appropriate illumination can set the mood for cooking, entertaining, working from home and finishing homework, sometimes all at once.

The interior pro said: “The impact lighting has on a kitchen design is overlooked by many, but it can have a dramatic effect on the overall feel and functionality of the room.

“It can also be a simple yet subtle way to transform a kitchen from its daytime purpose as a home office or cooking space, to an area where you can enjoy entertaining or unwinding in the evening.”

Ruth instructed homeowners to start by thinking about the main lighting source in the room and how it can be best maximised. 

Those opting for spotlights, consider the placement of each light to ensure they aren’t blocked by cabinets or walls. 

The expert explained: “Pendant lighting is also a great touch to add more focused illumination, whilst adding a stylistic feature.

“Layering your lighting in this way can also help to zone your space, establishing different areas depending on functionality. 

“This is particularly important for open plan areas, where you may want to create a subtle divide between surrounding space, without interrupting cabinetry.”

Another underrated kitchen feature that homeowners need are pantries or larders.

Kitchen larders and pantries have been a kitchen staple for centuries but are becoming less common in modern kitchens due to the “common misconception that they require a lot of space”, according to Ruth.

She said: “They can provide style and substance to your space, and with the right design, it can flow as a chic extension of the surrounding kitchen design.

“For a streamlined and tidy look, carry through the same cabinet and work surfaces from the surrounding space, as this will blend the kitchen and larder/pantry together seamlessly. 

“If you’re stretched for space, you can opt for pull-out storage solutions that maximise smaller spaces.”

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