Future-proof your kitchen design for your forever home
- Credit: Archant
The Cotswolds is a beautiful part of the country, and it’s no surprise that many people choose to retire to the area and downsize into their forever home. Angela at Bower Willis Designs talks about designing a future proof kitchen that will suit your needs for years to come
What should people think about when downsizing?
We’ve seen more and more people come into the showroom who are downsizing in to their forever home. Their new kitchen needs to accommodate a lifetime of belongings and be a safe and practical place to work.
It is more comfortable and convenient to cook with things at waist height, so think about height placement of your appliances. AGAs and Ranges look very homely but do you want to be bending low to remove hot and heavy roasting pans from the lower shelves? If you have space for a second oven, or if you’re not an AGA person, eye level ovens offer a much safer and more comfortable working height.
And it’s not just ovens that can be at eye level, it’s very popular on the continent to have raised dishwashers too. Easier for loading and unloading, and also reaching in to replenish salt and clear filters. If you have space for a mid level unit in your kitchen, we can place your dishwasher at any height. Alternatively, AEG offer a Comfort Lift model that swings the bottom tray of the dishwasher up to top tray level.
What about small appliances?
Integral microwaves and coffee machines are very convenient and help keep your workspace clear. If you’re a keen baker you may come to struggle with the cumbersome weight of lifting your mixer in and out of cupboards. Designing a cupboard with pocket doors and a power socket inside could allow you to simply open the cupboard, stow the doors so they’re not in your way, and use the appliance straight away.
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Does working height vary from person to person?
Absolutely, and Jeremy and I are a perfect example of this. With a foot in height between us, we find it easier to work at totally different worktop heights, particularly when we’re mixing, chopping, or rolling pastry. The base units that house appliances must be at a certain height so we can build those up a fraction to sit at the perfect height for Jeremy, and then the island is a little lower which is much more comfortable for me.
A decorative pod at the end of an island, like a barrel shaped cupboard, can also be a versatile way to vary working height as they can be made at any height - Jeremy uses ours for making drinks, it’s perfect height for him to slice lemons for a G&T! Plus they offer cavernous storage too.
What about storage?
Storage is particularly important if you are coming from a larger kitchen with more space and downsizing to a smaller kitchen. The key phrase to remember is ‘drawers not doors’. Saucepans, crockery, even dry ingredients and tins, there’s nothing to say they should be kept in cupboards. Drawers are much more accessible and convenient, plus you can see what you’ve got.
If you have deep corner units, you won’t want to be on your hands and knees rummaging for tupperware lids or serving dishes. Le Mans corner units swing out to make it easy to reach even the furthest corners of your base units. And they’re strong too, they can take up to 25 kilos.
When looking to maximise storage, it can be tempting to think about placing cabinets at higher levels all the way to the ceiling, but in reality they don’t offer much extra storage, they can make your room appear smaller, and climbing on stools or steps to reach the highest shelf isn’t safe or practical.
Does the style of kitchen make a difference?
Kitchen design is as individual as the person who lives there, so it’s important to choose a style that you love rather than something that you think is on trend. But when choosing handles, avoid square edges and sharp corners which can be very painful if you bump into them. Smooth handles or a handleless design with ‘touch to open’ function won’t catch on clothes as you walk by, look sleek and streamlined, and are easier to keep clean.
What else should we be thinking about?
As we get older, our eyesight might not be as good as it has once been, so it’s important to plan task lighting for preparation areas where you’re chopping and cooking. Making these lights dimmable allows you to create ambient lighting while you’re eating or relaxing.
The other thing is, we want life to be easy and effortless to keep clean. Worktops can really help with this, for example Silestone is a Quartz composite that has antibacterial compound so doesn’t need cleaning other than with a damp cloth and water. When designing kitchens, we avoid ridges, grooves and little corners in favour of smoother lines which also makes it easier to keep clean.
There are lots of ways we can design your kitchen to make life easier and safer for you to use. Of course, if you are downsizing, it’s a great opportunity to have a bit of a clear out and get rid of anything you’re unlikely to need again.
Find Bower Willis Designs at The Coach House, 3b New Street, Shipston On Stour, Warwickshire, CV36 4EW
01608 690 870