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Kitchen renovation

Planning a new kitchen is lots of fun, but there are some serious decisions involved in choosing a style and materials that will stand the test of time, yet won't date. When my husband and I did ours, we faced the challenge of a tricky L-shaped space and managed to come up with some excellent solutions. Whatever your particular hurdles, there's an ideal kitchen out there for everyone, so read on for some useful ideas.

By Louise Richardson
The amount of space available plays a huge part in planning the configuration of your kitchen.
on TV shows, kitchens always appear enormous, but in reality, most of us have much less room to play with.Start with an ultimate wish list which can be whittled down to meet your budget. While it's possible to splash out extravagantly, there are often clever, cheaper alternatives to be found.
If you can afford to engage a professional kitchen planner, that's a good start. They know all the products and materials you'll be buying, and can be a wealth of knowledge. A kitchen planner can help you avoid expensive mistakes, so look at it as an investment.
Lights
The kitchen is one room where bright light is essential. Add natural light with skylights or a glass brick wall. For electric light, it's essential to have good overhead task lighting around areas such as the sink and cook top.
Cleaning
Choose easy-clean surfaces if possible. A certain decorator (namely me) opted for acres of shiny black granite benchtop which she spends ages wiping and polishing obsessively each day. A lighter, more textured surface requires much less elbow-grease and input!
Drawers vs cupboards
These days the former is a hugely popular choice. It's so much easier to pull out a drawer than forage in the back of dark cupboards looking for bowls or pans. oodern runners are so good, your drawers will glide open!
What's my style?
We all have different ideas of what we'd like our kitchens to look like. oine has a slightly retro look, while you might like a country style or even a modern minimalist theme. Unless you're planning to stay in your house forever, really strong colours such as the red in this kitchen (below) should probably be avoided. With classic-coloured joinery, you can still add interest with your favourite colour on the walls or bright accessories.
Island life
Kitchen islands are a great focal point and can be used to add extra work room if benchspace is limited. Make your island work extra hard by creating space within it for cookbooks, wine and other kitchen essentials. If your kitchen plan is looking a bit angular, ask about the possibility of a round or oval-shaped island.
Going green
Environmentally friendly aspects can also be incorporated into your new kitchen. Use non-toxic low-VoC (Vital organic Compounds) paint and look for the energy star on new appliances to ensure they're going to operate efficiently.
Seating & dining
oy husband and I weren't able to fit a dining table in our kitchen, which is a shame, but we have a breakfast bar - the kids can sit and talk to me while I'm cooking dinner. Kitchen tables can be the gathering place of the house, so try to allow room for one if you can.

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