Room Guide - Kitchen

Interior Design Guide ROOM GUIDE - PART ONE
The Kitchen
Even in an era of supermarket ready meals and 'take-aways', the kitchen still remains one of the most functional rooms in our homes. It can also be one of the most magnetic. How many times have you prepared the whole house for a party, only to find that your guests still end up in the kitchen? Who wouldn't be drawn by the smell of coffee brewing, chicken roasting, casseroles simmering or bread baking?
In creating a welcoming kitchen you need to consider that they are as much to do with smell as they are sight. The colours you choose must not compete with the 'invisible' nucleus of the room - the meal that is hidden in the oven or simmering on top of the stove.
White is a practical and popular choice for kitchens as it has the advantage of reflecting light (especially with white blinds, an important consideration wherever food is being prepared. Used in excess, however, particularly in a large kitchen of one that does not benefit much from natural light, white can begin to look clinical and stark. To counter-act this, choose a pale beige or grey for your walls, particularly if you already have white kitchen units. Balance pale kitchen walls with a dark, bold floor surface. A wide variety of linoleums are vinyls are now available. As well as being practical they offer a cheaper, low maintenance alternative to the more traditionally favoured surfaces such as stained wood, tiles and stone flags. A rug is used as the centrepiece of an open floor area or laid under a table can be used as a link from colours of the floor to those used on the walls, table and windows.
Blue Cobalt blue was used as the traditional colour in kitchens and pantries for centuries. Not necessarily because it was fashionable, but because this particular shade of blue is repellent to insects. We have more modern ways of preserving and protecting our food stuffs these days, but it is worth considering if you have a country kitchen, particularly one in a warm climate.
Units and Worktops The design of kitchen units has passed through more fashion changes than any other room since the second world war. In the sixties the emphasis was on plastics and a streamlined look. The seventies brought us a nostalgic, rustic look and the rise of the fitted kitchen. Nowadays designs are giving way once more to a trend towards free standing furniture. Whatever the style or decade a constant factor has been the need for smooth surfaces which provide stable, hygienic worktops. Large expanses of work surface can once again, create a bland, clinical look, especially in a modern streamlined kitchen. Try using a textured paint treatment on your walls or tiles to counter-act this, or choose woods such as ash or maple for the work surfaces. Natural wood is pleasing to the eye as its grain offers a wealth and richness of colours, but again can be prohibitively expensive and high maintenance. A vast range of modern day, synthetic alternatives offer not only an affordable alternative but a more serviceable and hygienic one. As with your floor treatment if your units are white or light choose a darker work surface to balance the floor. This will minimise the chances of creating that stark, clinical look mentioned earlier.
Accents Whether your style is 'rustic' or 'retro', your kitchen is the ideal place to experiment with colour accents. Use the space between the upper and lower wall units for a range of tiles and curtains; take advantage of simple functional objects such as clocks, storage containers and tea towels as instant injections of colour. Use the space on top of storage units to display big pieces of pottery, large vase and dishes. All of these accents will lend character to your kitchen without you having to make any costly or permanent changes. A well designed kitchen is functional without being severe and colourful without being overpowering.
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