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Fitted kitchen buying guide

Guide written by:
Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

22 guides
Choosing a fitted kitchen means selecting a cold zone, a preparation area and a storage area. Worktops, sinks, cupboards and drawers, solid wood or veneer facades: from the American kitchen to the ready-to-install fitted kitchen, all the elements, their materials and dimensions must be chosen carefully.

Important features

  • Kitchen items
  • Materials
  • Dimensions
  • Facade
  • Layout

Fitted kitchens: what are the different areas of a kitchen?


To optimise space in a kitchen, it must be arranged according to a precise floor plan, taking a clear approach and with an eye to installation logic. A kitchen can be divided into three zones. Arrange them close together and you'll get a perfect triangle of activity allowing you to optimise your travel around the kitchen.

Cold zone


The cold zone of a kitchen is the area dedicated to keeping perishables (fruit, vegetables, etc.) as well as non-perishable items (jam, bottled water, etc.). The cold zone has a refrigerator and furniture for storage.

Preparation area and cooking zone


The preparation area and the cooking zone are adjacent and are composed of a hob, worktop, extractor hood and other specific fittings such as a utensil holder or a shelf for condiments. Ideally, the worktop should sit between the sink and the hob for convenient preparation and clearing of dishes and utensils.

Washing area


The washing area is the area that houses the sink, waste bin and dishwasher. Features such as crockery storage fit in here to optimise travel and space. 

Fitted kitchens: what are the different layouts on offer?

Depending on the existing room layout, the importance you attach to your kitchen and your specific needs, different layouts are available.
 

I-shape kitchen


The I-shape model is all about length and works best in a narrow room. The I-kitchen doesn't allow you to create a triangle of activity but can nonetheless prove very functional. The furniture elements are arranged side by side along one wall. To optimise this layout, place the preparation area between the sink and the hob as above.



Parallel kitchen


The parallel model consists of two rows of furniture facing each other. In this kitchen layout, one side is given over to the cold zone along with washing facilities, while the other hosts the preparation and cooking areas.

L-shape kitchen


The L-shape layout is an organisational classic and can be adjusted as required. With the L-shape kitchen, you can create a real triangle of activity. It's installed in the corner of the room, often leaving space for a dining area.







U-shape kitchen


The U-shape kitchen is one of the most spacious layout options, suited to rooms with more than 12m² floor area. The necessary furniture will occupy a large amount of space. It can include a dining area or even a central island. The U-shape kitchen is an excellent counterpart to an open-plan living space.







Island kitchen


The island model is the latest kitchen trend. It lends your kitchen a lovely flow but in too small a space it can seem cramped. The island kitchen is perfect in an open-plan living space. It offers additional clearing and storage space. Be sure to check you have the necessary plug sockets where you want them.

Fitted kitchens: what storage units are available?

Once your kitchen layout is decided, the units have to be arranged. The design of a kitchen is always essentially based on its needs. Furniture and storage accessories must match and scale appropriately with the available space.



Oven or combined unit


The oven or combined unit allows you to integrate the oven as well as the microwave, and why not a zone to house the hob and associated accessories - skewers, grill pans etc. You can get oven units of all heights, according to your requirements. Ideally, an oven should be placed 90cm from the ground to stay out of reach of young children and save you doing your back in!

Storage column


The storage column is ideal for storing all your ingredients in one place and fits perfectly next to a fridge and/or oven column.





Open shelf


Open shelves are not widely used in modern kitchens, but they're great for spices, cookbooks, and condiments in attractive containers.

Top and bottom units


Top and bottom units are designed to store dishes and are therefore usually placed close to the dishwasher or the dining area. For pans and other utensils, other storage arrangements are preferable. Top and bottom units are adjustable as you wish, they can have hanging or stackable trays, shelves or even removable boxes. To optimise space, choose 90cm bottom units and top units to be attached 45cm above the worktops!




Pot drawer


The pot drawer is the specific drawer for items including pots, pans, pressure cookers etc.

It allows quick and easy access. There are different solutions for arranging your pot drawer.

To perfect it, you can even opt for a pan separator and a base mat to make the whole thing anti-slip.

Fitted kitchens: what further storage arrangements are possible?

Having a well thought out kitchen is a daily pleasure. No more inconvenience and wasted time. Everything's set up to make cooking a dream!





English-style drawer


The English drawer fits within a pot drawer, accessed by opening the latter. It's a good shout for storing lids, dishes etc. without breaking the sleek facade of your kitchen units.


Cutlery drawer


Divided into different-sized sections, this type of drawer keeps your cutlery organised - and sometimes even utensils like rolling pins and chopping boards.





Sliding spice rack


The sliding spice rack allows you to organise your spices but also condiments like oil, vinegar etc... It can even be combined with a storage area for bread.

Sliding basket


The sliding basket is perfect for tea towels and/or household products.

Corner storage


To optimise storage and not lose vital centimetres for no need, corner storage offers some great solutions. You can have simple shelvessliding trays or even removable trays for quick and easy access to all your ingredients.

Fitted kitchens: how to choose the front of your kitchen?

Planning issues resolved, you must now choose your facade. The facade of a kitchen defines the style and decor of the room. There are different materials available to match your worktops.




Kitchen facades: melamine, lacquer or imitation wood?


If your priority is resistance, go for melamine facades in the colour of your choice. A glossy or matt lacquered facade creates a modern vibe, however, it will scratch easily. For a more natural look, go straight for the imitation or even natural wood look.

And for connoisseurs of the design kitchen, facades in lacquered or stained glass can produce a fantastic effect. In addition, they resist shocks better than lacquered wood.

Fitted kitchens: accessories and elements



Descriptions of kitchens are often rich in vocabulary:

  • Caisson refers to a unit without its facade;


  • Edge refers to the side (thickness) of a panel or worktop;

  • A cornice is a decorative moulding fixed on top units;

  • Hinges are of course the articulated mechanical parts on which doors are mounted;

  • A damper is a pneumatic device for soundproofing doors when they are closed;

  • Runners guide the movement of drawers.
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Guide written by:

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester 22 guides écrits

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

After years of DIY, renovation, designing, I decided to turn my passion into my career.

Starting in 2006, in the South-West, I helped people with renovation or contruction projects. My expertise and my curiosity led me to look further into innovative ideas for myself and my clients.

Indeed, to live your passion is also to transform the space you live in and the objects you use daily. My family love my creations and ideas that I bring into their lives!

My favourite thing to do: use colour to brighten up interior space. But also tips to hide away clutter. Your home is just never big enough, is it? It is thus a great pleasure to share my tips with you, so that you also can take as much pleasure as I do when starting up your next project!  

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