Things to consider when designing a kitchen by Diana Henry

The most important things to consider when designing a kitchen by the cook who really knows

Things to consider when designing a kitchen
(Image credit: Michelle Weir/Studio Weir)

There are several things to consider when designing a kitchen, but you can boil them down to these succinct modern kitchen ideas.

A hard-working kitchen needs plenty of work surface space, especially if you entertain a 
lot. And enough kitchen storage room, otherwise you are down on your hands and knees trying to find a particular size
of tart tin. Everything needs a place and has to be accessible. Drawers instead of shelves are great as you can pull them out and look for stuff rather than losing everything at the back of your cupboards. 

Things to consider when designing a kitchen

(Image credit: Kitchen Makers)

When designing an open-plan kitchen/living room, it’s wise to get an architect to 
give you advice on proportions. I think mine got it just right – there’s a living area with modular seating, a woodburner, a big table with bookshelves behind it and then the kitchen area. They all come together. Our whole family life is in 
this space. It is my world. 

small kitchen storage ideas

(Image credit: Future)

A good cook space isn’t always an Instagram- worthy one. Bulthaup advised me on what I should have and it was not the soft, warm one I had envisaged. Without my stuff in it my kitchen looks cold and very functional but it works. A cool, uncluttered kitchen is a good shell for someone who cooks a lot – it then becomes yours as you fill it and as the years go by. For surfaces, stainless steel and stone-effect are ideal (real stone stains, especially with oil). Both can take heat and a lot of bashing. You want your kitchen to be a workhorse. 

Things to consider when designing a kitchen

(Image credit: Shapeless Studio)

I was advised not to go for painted kitchen cabinets as they get too scuffed. Dirt gets stuck around tiles, too. And wooden surfaces that need constant oiling are a nightmare for someone who cooks a lot.  Gadgets can take up a lot of space, but I wouldn’t be without a boiling water tap – it saves such a lot of time, or a food processor (I make pastry and everything in it) and my Gaggia ice cream machine. True, it is not an essential but it has proved its worth over the last 25 years. Avoid anything that has a single purpose (such as a special avocado slicer), as 
you can never find them when you need them.  

Things to consider when designing a kitchen

(Image credit: Naked Kitchens)

The kind of cooking I do most is the ‘bung it in the oven in one dish’ so I have loads of roasting tins and three 30cm shallow cast-iron casseroles. One-pot dishes are often casseroles that require browning, but the one-dish meals I do are all cooked in the oven and end up with a burnished surface on top and a moist layer of vegetables below. You get browned meat without having to go through the effort it normally takes. I also just like what roasting does to ingredients – chicken skin becomes golden, tomatoes get scorched (which tastes great) and even apricots that normally lack flavour are transformed, becoming sweet and honeyed.  

Proper knives are essential. I used to think people made a fuss about them, but that’s because the ones I had weren’t that good. The best kitchen knives I invested in were a mixture of Opinel knives , Sabatier and Henkel. Once I started using these it just made cooking a lot easier. You will use them for a lifetime.