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Today’s multi-functional kitchens are used in so many different ways: cooking and dining, entertaining and chilling out, and even a place for the kids to do their homework. The list goes on and on! Everyone wants a family-friendly kitchen but what can you do if the layout doesn’t work and the room feels small and cramped? With careful planning, it’s still possible to transform your kitchen and make it the heart of your home.

Redesign your kitchen

If you currently have a separate dining room that adjoins the kitchen, it’s worth considering knocking through to make one large open-plan kitchen-diner. This is ideal for modern family living where the kitchen is the most used room in the house. With this option, you can also redesign the layout so that it’s exactly how you want it.

Don’t forget to include the essential element of all heart of the home kitchens: a large table to seat your guests, or an island or breakfast bar where they can sit while you’re cooking. It can take some time to get used to an open-plan kitchen if you’ve always done the food preparation and cooking separate from the dining room. To solve this issue, some island units are cleverly designed with a raised level that conceals the cooking area from your guests but still allows you to chat with them.

If you don’t have a utility room where the washing machine and dishwasher can be housed, choose the quietest possible models to ensure you’re not disturbed by the noise of the appliances. A good quality extractor is also essential to eliminate cooking smells. Remember that an open-plan kitchen-diner means everything will be on show, so it’s a good idea to de-clutter!

Create a cosy corner

If enlarging and redesigning your kitchen isn’t an option, it’s still possible to make it a more sociable area. The key is to try to fit in a table that’s big enough for everyone to sit around so you can all eat together. If the room is small, there are plenty of space-saving designs on the market. A fold-down table fixed to the wall makes a good option for two, while a round table with chairs that neatly fit underneath will suit many corners; drop-leaf tables are also great for small kitchens since they take up less space when not in full use.

If you have a bit more room, create a cosy corner by adding a small sofa or armchair. This can be used for reading, listening to music or just chilling out. You can make it extra inviting with comfy cushions and a tactile throw, and by putting up a simple shelf to store CDs, books, and games.

Personalise your kitchen

Kitchens in showrooms, although shiny and pristine, can appear cold and clinical because they lack the relaxed atmosphere found in real homes. Family-friendly heart of the home kitchens are the complete opposite; they’re lived in and comfortable. It’s easy to make the room warm and welcoming by filling it with things that reflect your family’s personality and mean something to you all.

Adding a display area is a good way to personalise your kitchen. This could be a simple memo board full of pictures by your children or grandchildren, photos commemorating special occasions and postcards to remind you of special family holidays. You could also use open shelving or a dresser to show off your favourite crockery, mementoes or souvenirs. Complete the look with a practical yet stylish kitchen blind at the window, along with pots of herbs and flowering plants. 

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