Making the kitchen the heart of your home

Abi Clewley

BY Abi Clewley

Published: 08 February 2017 Updated: 21 May 2024

The heart of your home

The hardest-working room in your home, it's estimated people spend an average of seven hours a day in their kitchen. We take a look at how to make it the best it can be.

What does your kitchen do?

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.

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Redesign - open-plan

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.

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Redesign - seating

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.

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Redesign - utilities

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 the show, so it’s a good idea to de-clutter!

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Smaller kitchens

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.

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A cosy corner

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.

Red coloured duette blind fitted to a bay shaped window in a kitchen with green coloured walls and white counter top

Add warmth

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.

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Personalise

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, mementos or souvenirs. Complete the look pots of herbs and flowering plants.

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What’s the ideal kitchen window furnishing?

Window furnishings are really important in a kitchen and it’s often a room that has more than an average number of windows in it, especially if you’ve gone open plan, or created an extended living space. Let’s take a look at the different options:

Shutters

Shutters can be an ideal solution for some kitchens. Wood-stained or painted shutters can look beautiful in extended spaces – particularly if you have a gable end, shaped windows or even doors. Open them fully and flood the space with daylight, or simply tilt the louvres to balance light versus glare. But they can be an impractical choice for windows near stoves or sinks, or for cooks who always have messy or wet hands.

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Vinyl shutters

With a wipe-clean finish that shrugs off humidity, and designed not to fade, chip or crack, vinyl shutters are a very practical choice for kitchens, whether larger open-plan or standard sized. As with wooden shutters the can be crafted for gable ends, shapes and doors. The downside to vinyl shutters is that they’re only available in whites or creams, so if know you want colour over practicality, vinyl shutters may not be for you.

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Blinds

Blinds can be a good choice for some kitchens, particularly if there are no little sticky fingers around to touch them. Like wood shutters, wooden blinds are best kept away from the cooking end of things, but they’re ideal if you suffer from glare at a window, as you can simply angle the slats, instead of having to lower or raise them.

wooden blind fitted to a tall window in a living room

Practical blinds

If you’re searching for something with more colour, then perhaps Pleated blinds will work for you. Certain fabrics come with StainStop®  which can help prevent common water-based liquids like tea and coffee staining if they make contact. For south-facing rooms you could also consider those with a reflective coating that can reflect some of the sun’s rays.

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Electric blinds

Once the kitchen becomes the heart of your home it’s going to be a lot busier so perhaps you should consider blinds that need less hands-on operation. Our range of smart electric blinds can be controlled by remote control, by an app on your smart phone or, better still if you’re busy cooking, by voice activation through Google Home or Alexa. Choose from Duette®, Roman blinds or Roller Blinds for an enormous choice of colour, pattern and texture and just bear in mind they need to be away from water or humidity. You can even set schedules for your blinds to raise or lower automatically at set times of the day leaving you free to enjoy whatever’s going on in the new heart of your home.

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