How to create a traditional family kitchen

Whatever its size, the kitchen is the place where everyone gathers. We look at the key ingredients that go into making this space so special

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Today’s family kitchen is more than just a room in which to cook: it is the true heart of the home, a multifunctional hub in which the family can gather to cook, work, relax and entertain, all while keeping an eye on young children.

It must be able to meet everyone’s demands whatever the time of day, from accommodating a space for breakfast, lunches, dinners and the occasional weekend coffee.

Creating a family kitchen wont cost any more than if you were designing a kitchen for yourself. Either way, it is highly dependent on the standard of material and appliances that you opt for, as well as how much you pay for installation and work.

A new kitchen should cost between three per cent and five per cent of the value of the house, but will often add more value to the house as a result. This is especially true if you are adding a family friendly kitchen to a house that didn’t have one previously.

Second Nature family kitchen shaker style

Second Nature’s timeless Langham kitchen features chunky solid timber doors, priced from £12,000

There is no benefit to cramming everyone in to a small space, so in order for the room to work effectively, it must be large enough. One of the most popular projects is to open your home up either by extending the existing space, or by remoing walls to create an open-plan living area –  both of which can open out to the garden through wall-to-wall doors.

Assuming they meet certain criteria such projects often do not require planning permission and can be completed under permitted development rights. Alternatively, you may be able to create a large open plan space by removing a non load-bearing wall between the kitchen and dining room.

There is a slightly different set of requirements when choosing appropriate kitchen units, worktops, flooring and hardware in a kitchen that is going to be frequented by the whole family.

Firstly, opt for surfaces that are easy to clean and won’t stain if spilled upon. That goes for cupboard doors, as well as splashbacks and worktops – No one wants to see orange juice drip marks down to front of their new and expensive wooden doors.

Metro tiles make a stylish, practical and cost effective option when it comes to your splash back. They wipe clean easily and look perfect in both traditional and modern kitchens.

An easy clean worktop is essential. You don’t want a material that will absorb every little spill, or be marked easily if someone drops something on it. Composite stone or granite is ideal, as well as stainless steel or even glass. Wood can be sanded down and refinished if it is damaged, but it is also the easiest material to mark.

With worktops especially, but also with any units or surfaces with an edge, it is worth considering rounding the corners. A curved kitchen is not only stylish, it reduces the chance of injury to any children that might be at risk of banging their head.

Finally, give consideration to flooring. In a family kitchen it should be practical, hardwearing and slip-resistant. Stone or ceramic tiles are good options but if you would prefer a more cushioned surface, look at high quality vinyl, which can mimic beautifully real wood and stone.

john lewis of hungerford mix and match chairs in a family kitchen

This Artisan lay-on cabinetry from John Lewis of Hungerford is painted in Stone Ochre II, from £17,500 for a complete kitchen

Creating some form of central hub is essential in all family kitchens. An island is the ideal solution as it can also provide a natural break between the practical cooking zones and the more relaxing living and dining areas. It can also create a relaxed area, separate from the dining table, which can be used for family breakfasts and lunches.

The best islands have seating at one side, with bar stools tucked underneath a projected work surface (avoid high stools for small children), facing a prep area, perhaps with a sink or hob and dishwasher, so that the cook isn’t isolated from the family or guests whilst preparing food.

Martin Moore Sutton kitchen with stone floor and kitchen island

Martin Moore’s English kitchen collection starts from £35,000

Where space allows, a family kitchen should include a good sized dining table, preferably one which is extendable to accommodate gatherings. A dining table can provide a good transition between the kitchen and a more informal sitting area, with one or two comfy sofas or armchairs. Where possible, window seats provide a clever solution.

It is all well and good swearing that the family rooms will be mobile and gadget free zones, but inevitably, they will work their way in eventually. If you’re planning on the kitchen being the homework zone for the kids, or if you might use it as an impromptu office, then having ample plugs and charging stations in the kitchen is a good option.

One of the most popular and persistent trends in the smart home automation area are multi-room sound systems. These are particularly useful to include in family kitchen spaces, as you can listen to music whilst cooking, the kids can listen to their own music when they’re around, or you can easily play music when entertaining or having a family party.

The bigger the family, the more storage space will be required. Consider pan drawers and pull-out shelving. A large pantry kept distinct from the prep area of the kitchen will allow for family members to help themselves to breakfast items and snacks without interrupting cooking.

If there is room, creating a separate utility is a valuable addition in a family home. This means certain appliances, washing machines, dishwashers or even the fridge/freezer can be housed in a separate, but close by room.