Finding a Kitchen design professional in Pretoria
In order to choose a great kitchen designer, it would help to understand some of the basics of Kitchen design, This blog will introduce you to the different facets of kitchen design so that you know what questions to ask of your kitchen designer, be they in Pretoria, Boksburg, Edenvale or anywhere in Gauteng.
Let’s start talking about usability, Badly designed kitchens are not a pleasure to work in, having said that some of these rules may be difficult to abide by because your kitchen is a strange shape, or very small or extremely large. Designing a small kitchen has it’s own challenges as space is at a premium, very large kitchens have the opposite problems but using the zones as described can help make it more versatile and usable.
From a usability perspective, these rules will make a great kitchen to work in. Now we move on to making the kitchen look good. I like to use what I call the CRAP principal
When pupils are studying interior design colour is a big subject because colour can make or break any design. Colours can clash, they can tone in and become bland. I don’t like to use bright or fashion colours in the doors and tops, It is far better to bring in bright or fashion colours with appliances and other items that don’t mean spending thousands to replace when that mint green colour you fancied no longer has you entranced, Paint the walls mint green and when you want to change the kitchen to an orange pallet, it will cost you the price of a few cans of paint.
Using a series of doors that are the same width looks a lot better than having every door in a series a different size. It is far better to repeat a size than not. If you have even and equal proportions repeated throughout the project, the kitchen will look more pleasing.
If the top units and the bottom units don’t line up the kitchen will look bitty. I like to repeat the lines below and above the counter, this creates continuity and a pleasing effect on the eye, I will sometimes use a 450 and a 300 unit on the floor with a 750 unit on the wall. I will specifically make the doors to match the unit below it.
Every kitchen should be designed with four zones in mind, These four zones are as follows. The proximity of each item makes the kitchen a pleasure to work in or not.
It is good to keep all storage in one area, so fridges, freezers and grocery cupboard should all be in the same proximity. If you need ingredients they are all to hand without having to cross the kitchen to get something else.
The next zone is your preparation area, If your cleaning area or scullery is not the same general area a prep bowl giving you water in this area is always a good plan, Part of the preparation area is the cooking area, stove, oven, microwave should all be in this area. You would also store all your preparation and cooking utensils in this zone
From the stove you should be moving all your prepared food to the serving area, this would be the exit closest to your dining area, making it easy to serve your diners and guests if applicable. Ideally, you would store all your serving dishes and cutlery in this zone
Your sink, your dish washer and any other washing up appliances should be located here. It is best when designing a kitchen to create these zones, so that the cooking and cleaning chores are simplified.
Questions to ask your kitchen designer
Do you do 3d design?
Most of the good kitchen designers will supply three dimensional designs, using a CAD based design suite, The software available today ranges from the basics like Google sketchup, which I designed kitchens with in the past, to software that allows drag and drop design. Some of the software is very expensive and some like sketchup can be free. Some of the software has all the colours so that you can see what you are getting to the colour shade allegedly.
Can you show me examples of your kitchen design work?
Only by looking at their previous catalogue, can you tell if they design the type of kitchen you want. If they can show you the 3d kitchen design with an photos of the kitchen after manufacturing and installation, you know how true to life the 3d designs are. This is also a way to tell if they have actually done any work,
Once you have seen the design and the photos, ask to speak to the owner of the kitchen used. Many people will be happy for you to have a look at their kitchen. Sadly bad people will use pictures of others work and proclaim it as their own. It is best to check the credentials of your designer, and good kitchen designers are never averse to showing off their work. I would suggest doing this before getting a quote, it's always better to work with people that come highly recommended.
What materials do you recommend for the carcass construction?
The answer is simple, Melamine is the best material for carcasses, but has it's limitations. The reasons Melamine is great for carcasses is,
- Easy and quick manufacturing
- Easy to clean
- Most economical product for the purpose
I have a budget of X, Can you work with that?
Good designers will always answer yes or no, The best designers will want to know your budget, because it will mean they know if they can offer services within that price range or not? This will save them and you time, You won't be getting R 120 000 quotes when you can only afford R 60 000. You can also find someone that knows how to give you what you want within your affordability range.
I have a really tight budget, what can we do to save costs?
Some kitchens don't need replacement, If it's not broken, it doesn't need fixing, sometimes just replacement doors and tops are called for, If you have a low budget, this might be the option for you. Most kitchen companies will not offer this service. If the budget doesn't scare them off, this will help you save time, knowing whether the company is willing to recycle or not.
What is the widest carcass you use?
Melamine being what it is, the easiest way to save money is by making the widest carcasses, The maximum used in the kitchen industry is 1200mm as a general rule, The correct answer however is 900mm, because 1200mm cabinets shelves are known to sag over time, 600 mm doors are more likely to break out the hinges or sag. We will discuss hinges more fully in another question.
I have seen wrap doors, do you recommend them?
This question has no right answer, but in my opinion wrap doors are a bad idea, besides being almost as expensive, if not expensive as solid wood doors in some cases, I have seen way to many of them delaminate on the edges. Wrap doors cannot be repaired as good as new, so replacement is the only option when they start peeling. If you are going to spend that kind of money on a kitchen, it would be better to use solid wood doors, some timber like poplar, pine, cedar and cypress would be better value for money.
How many hinges do you use for the tall wall unit doors?
Saving money on hardware is something I have seen done on more kitchens than I can remember. The hinge specifications have not changed in thirty years, A standard height kitchen door at 720mm should have two hinges. basically for every 500mm or part thereof on anything taller than that should have one hinge, so a tall wall unit door at 1080mm would require three hinges, a grocery unit door at 1950mm needs four hinges and a full length door at 2250mm would require five hinges.
Using fewer hinges is a false economy, I have never seen any kitchen that could have saved more than R 200.00 on hinges using the industry norm which are contractors hinges. The problems associated with fewer hinges are sagging hinges, hinges tearing out of cabinet sides and kitchens that need regular alignment.
Do you use legs or full length carcasses?
Up until fairly recently most kitchen companies would use full length sides, now the better ones use legs under the carcasses. Most of the kitchens I have replaced over the years, have been damaged at the bottom of the carcasses by water, It seems many home cleaning executive use too much water cleaning the kitchen floor, this gets absorbed by the chipboard and dry rot sets in causing cabinets to collapse. Using plastic feet separates the carcass from the floor and prevents this form of collapse. In the worst case scenario the kick plates will be damaged by water and need replacing.
Using metal legs and tiling below the units, skipping the kick plates all together makes the kitchen easier to clean and denies rats, cockroaches and other nasty little creatures a hiding space.
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