How to design the perfect kitchen extension

Find out how to design the perfect kitchen extension, from how you'll use it to creative design details, with our easy steps

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If you're extending because you've set your heart on creating a large open-plan kitchen extension, it's a good idea to start with its ideal design, before moving on to the practicalities of planning the extension, and considering the cost of a new kitchen extension.

 

Related articles:  The ultimate guide to extending your home | 9 ways to cut the cost of your extension | 12 kitchen extension ideas all under 100K

1. How big will your kitchen extension be?

The amount of space you need for your kitchen extension will depend on how you plan to use it, so start here. There's no point in spending out on an extension that is too small; too big, and the room will be out of proportion to the rest of your home.

Generally, the kitchen/dining space is the heart of family life and the room we spend most time in — cooking, eating, socialising, working and relaxing — and an open-plan (or semi-open-plan) space is often the best way to use the new extension.

The key to creating the perfect open-plan kitchen is getting the space and the layout right first, before deciding on kitchen units, design details and decoration later. Ask yourself these questions to help you clarify what you need:

  • Will your kitchen be solely for preparing meals, or do you want dining space too?
  • Do you want to be visible when cooking, or tucked around a corner?
  • Will you entertain in the kitchen, or only have informal dining there?
  • Do you want some living space open to the kitchen?
  • Do you need a separate utility room, pantry storage, larder or laundry storage area?

2. Where to put the extension?

You could extend at the rear or side of your home to gain extra space; in a terraced house, a side return extension might be all you need to be able to create the kitchen of your dreams. In a townhouse, it may make sense to do a basement conversion, with a light well leading up to the garden.

Small extensions to a house may not need planning permission if they fall within the definition of permitted development. Larger extensions, or additions to a flat, always need planning permission. Alterations to a listed building always require listed building consent, whether or not the work is permitted development.

3. How will the extension impact on your garden?

Extending to the rear of your property? No extension should overly compromise the garden, so try to find a balance between creating a workable space indoors and retaining as much outdoor space as possible. A good architect will help and advise with this, but if you're unsure, try to visit as many homes with extensions as possible to see what works, and what doesn't. Check out our feature on creating an indoor outdoor living space, too.

4. How will you access your kitchen extension?

If you want access to the garden and privacy, the kitchen is most likely to be at the rear or side of the house. If possible, it should be accessible from your main hallway and not through another room. Ideally, this transition should be as seamless as possible, something which can be achieved by good layout planning, and matching interior detailing and materials, including flooring and skirting boards, for example.

You may be able to achieve the best space possible by remodelling the existing interior layout, perhaps removing internal walls to link two rooms together, or by converting and linking an integral garage.

5. How will you access the garden?

kitchen extension with a feature mural

The transition from inside your new kitchen extension needs to be as seamless as the transition from the original part of the house to the new room. This means putting exterior doors to the garden in a place that looks natural and is practical, both from inside and out.

Flush-fit doors that lead straight on to a patio or deck will help you make the most of the indoor-outdoor relationship within the space, creating a more successful finish. 

Think about the visual transition between the two spaces, too. Whether you have swathes of fixed glazing or install folding sliding doors, ensure you situate them to make the most of the views of the garden. 

6. Could you create the space without extending?

If costing out your kitchen extension has led you to wonder whether you can get the space you need for the budget you have, why not consider a clever compromise? 

Making only internal alterations to create more space — for example, knocking through between a kitchen and dining room — could give you the kitchen diner you want. 

You could draw up the layout plans yourself to scale, then commission an engineer (visit Istructe.org for details). They will be able to prepare drawings and calculations for the structural alterations for submission to the local authority and to pass on to your builder.

No planning permission or other drawings will be required. However, if your property is leasehold, you will need to obtain permission from the freeholder.

architecturally designed kitchen extension

7. How to get the design of your extension just right

Getting the design of a kitchen extension is fundamental to its success. 

Consider glazing elements

With its location, and access from inside and out sorted, consider how much glazing you want to include. This will help you make the most of light, but should be done in conjunction with planning your different zones for cooking, dining and living, plus any utility space, since the more glazing you have, the less wall space will be available. Consider the extension's orientation, too. If it's south-facing, you might want to consider limiting the glazing. 

Think about exterior appearances

Consider, too, how your planned extension will look from outside. Just as you might match the detailing and materials inside to those of the original house to create a seamless transition from the existing space to the new, choosing materials that match those of your home's exterior will make the new extension blend successfully. Or, perhaps you might like to site your new kitchen in a traditional-style orangery, or go for contrast, such as with a glass box extension, for a contemporary finish?

Plan the kitchen layout

Once you have the space that you want designed, you can start thinking about the kitchen layout. It is worth consulting two or three experienced kitchen designers for their ideas. Make sure you give them a clear brief of what you are trying to achieve, but listen to their advice in terms of layout to suit the space, such as designing a galley, L-shaped or U-shaped layout, or introducing an island or appliance wall.

Generally, though, it's best to site the kitchen towards the back end of the extension, nearest the original part of the house, with living and dining spaces nearer the brighter, garden end of the space.

A good designer will understand the importance of function (ergonomics) and incorporate all the appliances you have specified. Once the basic layout is agreed, you can finalise details like the style of the units, cupboard doors and drawer fronts, worktops, splashbacks, sink, taps and the rest of the design – don't miss our feature on interior design know-how for kitchens to get these last details just right.

When you have finalised your layout and chosen your supplier, the designer will be able to produce detailed wiring and plumbing plans so the builders can put the services in place during the building phase. You can then have the plastering and decorating work done and the flooring laid, ready for the kitchen installers to arrive.

Read more on planning a kitchen extension: