The designers we spoke to in 2017 were full of great ideas – here are just a few of the tips we picked up
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Our Houzz Tours and Kitchen Tours are always packed with ingenious solutions to common home design problems, so it’s helpful to revisit them now and again. We’ve had a look through this year’s tours and picked the best advice from experienced designers. Bookmark these for your future renovation plans.
Lesson 1: How to mix similar materials
What happens when you want to combine two different types of wood in your kitchen? In this cookspace, oak veneer cabinets are teamed with a natural wood floor, so the challenge was to visually separate the two elements and stop them from clashing.
The units were already raised off the floor by a cantilever mechanism below, but the designers separated the two materials further by framing the cabinets in an outer shell of white Corian. It forms a very neat division between the floor and the units.
See more of this contemporary kitchen in a Georgian home
Lesson 2: How to create a utility room
You obviously need a little extra space for this one, but if you can find a free corner in your kitchen, it’s a great way to fashion a utility room.
The designers made a couple of shelving units at the rear of the space, and have used these as a barrier for the washing machine and laundry paraphernalia. Everything can be hidden away out of sight in what is now the utility space – it’s like a room within a room.
Discover more ideas from this timber extension that updated a 1950s home
Lesson 3: How to get the look of concrete
Concrete is a popular choice for kitchen worktops at the moment, and it looks fantastic in both traditional and contemporary schemes. It’s prone to staining, though, so if you’re not keen on imperfections, try a concrete alternative instead.
The designer of this kitchen suggested an engineered quartz material that replicates concrete, but with added practicality. The worktops are less porous and more durable than concrete, but still have the same look. The material has also been used on the wall as a splashback to keep the look consistent.
Take a peek around this kitchen in a 1930s semi
Lesson 4: How worktops can be made of paper
Fancy a kitchen counter that’s both beautiful and sustainable? Try a worktop made of recycled paper – this one consists of 65% FSC-certified recycled paper and 35% resin. The designers used it on both the worktop and the wooden shelves at the end of the island.
The material can be cut to fit on site, like wood, and it will apparently develop an attractive patina over time.
Take a tour of this Victorian semi with a kitchen full of character
Lesson 5: How to cleverly squeeze in an island
If you think you can’t fit an island into your kitchen, think again – it pays to consider all the options.
The previous island in this scheme was large and took over the whole space, so the designers came up with a clever solution – a triangular island that replicates the shape of the room and fits in much more neatly.
The owners still have an extra work surface, but it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the space.
Visit the rest of this small, new-build apartment with a clever redesign
Lesson 6: How to stylishly get a modern-rustic look
Here’s a dilemma: you love the cosy vibe of a country kitchen, but want to give your cookspace a modern edge. Well, with a few carefully chosen pieces, you can create a modern-rustic kitchen that combines the two.
This gorgeous room, with its wooden farmhouse table, exposed beams and Aga, has all the trappings of a country cuisine. However, the designer has thoughtfully woven in a few items, such as the black tap and industrial-style lighting, to give it a distinctly contemporary look.
Here’s a close-up of those finer details that create a perfect mix of old and new.
Take a look around this modern-rustic cottage kitchen
Lesson 7: How to prevent grey from looking cold
Grey works well as a contemporary neutral that can be combined well with other shades, so it’s a good choice for a timeless, flexible kitchen. However, if not done right, it can end up looking cold. The designer of this scheme made sure this wasn’t the case.
Firstly, he chose a shade of grey that’s elegant rather than cool. He then combined the grey with wooden details, which help to soften the units and give the whole kitchen a warm feel.
Tour this modern gem in a London townhouse
Lesson 8: How to brilliantly conceal an extractor fan
The designer of this stunning kitchen wanted to find a way to incorporate an extractor fan that fitted in with the rest of the design. He came up with a smart solution: cover the canopy in the same tiles as the wall behind it.
The design team then finished the canopy with walnut edging, positioned at the exact same height as the shelves to create a seamless line along the wall.
See more of this Scandinavian-style space with a walk-in pantry
What’s the best piece of kitchen advice you’ve been given? Share your thoughts and tips in the Comments section.