There is nothing like moving into a new home with a new kitchen and laundry to heighten your awareness of common design flaws.
Don’t get me wrong – there is something very satisfying about being able to move into a modern and relatively new home – but it’s not until you actually live in a space that you truly appreciate all the little nuances of what makes a home functional and practical.
Features that make a home liveable and practical differ from family to family and depend completely on personal circumstances and perspectives.
For instance, a home built for a young family with small children will need different design considerations to that for an older, empty-nester couple. However, regardless of these nuances here are some fundamental and all too common mistakes to avoid when planning your new kitchen and laundry.
– KITCHEN –
1. Avoid having to decide between your kettle and your phone.
With the phenomenal rise of portable devices, the need for access to power points has dramatically changed. No longer are a couple of double power points sufficient!
To make things simple sit down and write a list of all the kitchen appliances you are likely to use in a week. Make note of which stay out on your kitchen benchtop (Toaster, Kettle and Thermomix for instance) as opposed to those you only use a few times a week (rice cooker, juicer etc).
Now add to that list the number of devices you tend to charge every day (phones, tablets, laptops, soundboxes, home devices such as Google Home or Alexa). Only now can you start thinking about placement of your power outlets in the kitchen.
TIP: Consider adding a few additional power outlets under the kitchen island overhang or at different points in the kitchen.
2. The insanity of dead space
I recently saw a wonderful new kitchen with a stunning island bench. Perfect, but for one obvious omission. The designers had created a space for a mini bar fridge to sit under the kitchen island. Ideal for keeping those summer drinks handy and cool. The only problem was the lack of a powerpoint to connect the fridge to!
To add a powerpoint, you now need to get an electrician in to rewire and run a new power cable through. Messy, costly and completely unnecessary if only common sense had prevailed at the design and installation stages.
3. Lack of drainage
Almost all new kitchens nowadays make allowances for an inbuilt dishwasher, which means the way we use our sinks has changed.
With the bulk of dishwashing in the true sense relegated to the dishwasher, sinks tend to be more about washing vegetables, single-cup/plate cleaning and washing up larger cooking utensils such as large frying pans, woks and baking dishes. So why restrict yourself to a small traditional twin tub sink? Consider some of the newer trough or rectangular designs which allow greater flexibility as to how you can use the sink.
Add-ons that provide drainage and cutting board options are great because often we sacrifice the traditional draining areas in favour of clean benchtops and design aesthetics.
4. Rubbish, what rubbish?
It never ceases to amaze how many designer kitchens don’t make adequate room for rubbish and recycling materials that accumulate in the kitchen.
Dedicate a cupboard or two to proper trash storage. If you are particularly environmentally conscious consider space for a small bin to capture your organic waste too. Some kitchen benchtops have purpose cut holes that allow you to keep the organic waste bin out of sight. Fabulously efficient and neat on the eye!
5. Getting the worktop height wrong
Prepping food on kitchen countertops and island benches that are the wrong height for your family can literally be a painful experience! Too low and you are likely to get a sore back from stooping, too high and you won’t be able to reach comfortably.
Although there is an industry-standard height, you should always go and try out the suggested height at a kitchen display room. Never be afraid to ask your kitchen designer or builder to make alterations to this before you start. If there’s a vast height difference between members of your household and you have space, you could even consider dual-level worktops.
– LAUNDRY –
Don’t let your laundry suffer from these mistakes
Doing the laundry is something few of us actually enjoy doing, so why not make sure that your laundry room is designed in such a way to at least make the process as easy as possible? Sleek, designer finishes are all well and good if you want to show your home off to guests, but here are some all too common mistakes to avoid so that you can actually enjoy those day to day chores.
1. Hanging space for those rainy days?
Our new rental home has two separate washing lines on either side of the house, which is great to make the most of the sun at different times in the day. Yet what about those rainy days? Too often like in this case, no provisions are made for hanging wet clothes up in the laundry when it’s too wet or windy outside.
Having a hanging rack/drying rack as part of your laundry design avoids this issue and can also act as a handy space to drip dry items and hang clothes when ironing. Very often this space is incorporated above the sink to allow for easy drainage.
2. Where will my ironing board live?
I am all for out of sight / out of mind, but an ironing board has one of those odd shapes that make it difficult to stash away anywhere that isn’t really made for it.
Whilst linen cupboards are very popular, think about allowing a foot-wide space to store your ironing board in an easy to reach spot.
3. Hide my dirty undies, please!
Too often laundry designs neglect to allow for enough space to store the dirty washing, meaning you use up valuable benchtop space before it even comes to washing.
I just love, love, love the deep pull-out dirty washing drawers in our new laundry. Easy to toss the clothes into and right next to the washing machine it avoids the need for more space being taken up with clothes baskets deposited by the various family members.
4. Let there be light
I realise that the laundry is one of the most hidden rooms in a home, but yet we spend significant time in this space. So, make sure it’s functional and bright enough for you to do what you need to.
Folding, sorting and ironing clothes is so much easier with good lighting in the room. Digital appliance panels are also so much easier to read with good lighting. It also helps when it comes to sorting the washing piles and dealing with stains. So, don’t rely on just a single overhead light, but consider a couple of well-placed downlights. You also may want to consider a strip of lighting underneath your overhead cupboards if you have them.
5. Stop the flooding fast!
Let’s hope it never comes to this but if you are going to be faced with a water emergency it will most likely happen in the laundry.
Anticipating this make sure you know where your water shut off valve is (and make sure other family members including teenagers, know it too!) Don’t leave it until an emergency to go looking for it – delays like that could cost you hundreds of dollars.
Usually, you will find it behind or adjacent to the washing machine, often at an odd angle and low to the floor. When designing your laundry ask your plumber to take the time to move it / place the shut-off valve somewhere convenient and accessible, but out of reach of small children. It will be well worth it next time you need to shut off the water in a hurry!
Written by Pia Turcinov, Co-founder of Build in Common