01. Size and Layout

The advantage of restructuring your property, or of building a house from scratch, is that you have full control over the size and lay-out of your home. But the things to remember are that a large rectangular kitchen diner will benefit from being divided into zones, and that, if the space is ‘L’-shaped, you have the opportunity to keep the food preparation area out of sight from the dining area.

Here is an illustration of how an ‘L’-shaped kitchen diner can be designed so that dirty crockery is not in view of the dining area, (or seating area, in this particular example).

Long, rectangular kitchen diners need zoning, as this example goes to show.

02. Lighting your kitchen diner

Designing lighting for a kitchen diner is complex. This is because lighting has several functions. As well as needing to light the space with a general, or ambient, light source, dedicated lights are to be provided for the purpose of aiding specific tasks, such as food preparation.

In addition, lighting is required to accentuate various features of the kitchen’s design, either within, or beneath, units. The design also needs to cater for all the different functions of the space, as a kitchen diner often serves as a homework area for children, as well as providing a focus for the preparation and consumption of food.

For this reason, thought needs to be given to whether to provide additional light sources. Pendant lighting helps zone this kitchen dining space, while also providing ambient lighting for informal dining at the kitchen island.

03. Plan For Extraction Early On

An important function that should be dealt with early on in a kitchen diner design is that of extraction, as ridding the space of food smells is an important issue. This means including a mechanism such as a cooker extractor hood in the design.

There are two types of extractor:

1. A recirculating hood, which processes the various gases that are caused by cooking, before returning them back into the space.

2. A ducted hood, which removes them from the space altogether. A ducted hood is preferable, and one with an intensive power setting will be most effective.

It is important to ensure that the size of the hood is appropriate to the scale of the space into which it is to be installed.

Generally, the width of the hood should at least match that of the cooker, but it should be wider if it is fitted above an induction hob, otherwise it will not capture all of the gases produced.

One other issue that is important is that of ensuring that the hob is fitted correctly, and with sound ducting, otherwise the hob will be noisy and not perform to its optimum level.

Tip: For maximum performance, the ducting leading from the hob should be as short as possible, and have no kinks.

04. The Natural Light is Vital

Because it is likely that you and your family will spend a great deal of time in this space, it is very important that maximum use is made of natural light. This will reduce the use of electrically powered lighting.

Natural light can also be maximised by the fitting of French, sliding or bifold doors, but, in places beyond the reach of natural light, illumination might be provided using rooflights, or maybe by hanging a roof lantern over the dining area.

The brightness of the space might also be enhanced by the use of brightly coloured kitchen units, perhaps with a gloss finish, and by the laying of light coloured flooring.

05. Zoning

Zoning is very important, in as much as the open-plan space needs to be separated into different zones of activity. One simple way of achieving this is to install a breakfast bar or similar item of kitchen furniture, and this will also naturally create additional storage space.

‘Virtual zones’ might be created by the subtle use of lighting, with lights in certain parts of the kitchen diner being softened or turned off altogether at certain times.

Zoning can achieve a more striking effect when the structure of the space has a non-uniform design, with different areas of activity being defined by different floor or ceiling heights.

For example, the kitchen area might have a standard 2.4 metre-high ceiling, with the adjacent dining area being placed beneath a much higher, vaulted ceiling.

06. Give Good Thought to Flooring

Choosing a floor surface for your kitchen diner is very important. A uniform surface can provide continuity and cohesion throughout the space, or it can be regarded as another way in which the area can be subtly divided into different zones of activity.

If flooring has the latter function, then there is the opportunity to vary the nature of the materials used according to need. For example, a soft, comfortable surface might be selected for the dining portion of the space, whereas a more practical and hard-wearing material might be chosen for the floor of the food preparation area.

A design challenge with using different types of flooring, however, concerns finding an elegant solution to the point at which two surface types meet. If an effective transition strip cannot be found, then an alternative might be to install a partial dividing wall; alternatively, the two surfaces might be divided by a difference in floor height.

If the same type of flooring is to be used throughout the kitchen diner, then a surface that is appropriate for both parts of the space needs to be selected. One suggestion for this might be a limestone or slate floor. Alternatively, if a surface that is less harsh underfoot is preferred, then vinyl tiles, which can be designed with a wood or stone effect, might be used.

07. De-clutter

Another ‘quick win’ tip is to reduce the appearance of unsightly clutter, such as dirty crockery – this can be particularly problematic and embarrassing when you are entertaining in an open-plan kitchen.

If space permits, then the creation of a separate room for food preparation is a simple solution; otherwise, the answer might be to install sliding doors within your kitchen diner, which can be used to hide any clutter from guests.

More subtle means of hiding clutter include designing in a raised breakfast bar or similar worktop, or by simply having the dining area of your open-plan kitchen set at a different height to the food preparation spaces.

08. Connect Your Kitchen Diner with the Garden

Positioning your kitchen diner so that it backs onto your garden can encourage you to dine in the open air when the weather permits, and provide you with a nice view of the garden at other times of the year.

This connection with the outside can be enhanced through the use of sliding or bifold doors, or with the installation of French doors if they would be appropriate for the style of your property.

Of course, the choice of a more ‘outdoor’ lifestyle can be further encouraged by the creation of a pleasant outdoor eating area within easy reach of the kitchen.

09. Consistency of Design is Key

Any open-plan space needs to be unified with a consistent theme, as expressed by the palette of colours and the choice of materials and finishes. This might be achieved by something as simple as, for example, mirroring some of the more prominent colours of the kitchen in the dining area, or there might be a consistency in the appearance of cabinetry throughout the open space.

Another good design practice is to ensure that there is a certain harmony of shapes and sizes between the major furniture elements in the kitchen and dining spaces. This might be achieved by, say, matching the proportions of the breakfast bar and the dining area table.

10. Control noise levels

Keeping control of noise levels is an obvious first consideration when designing an important living space such as a kitchen diner.

Segregating noisy machines that are used for washing and drying processes is fairly straightforward, in as much as these can be assigned to a separate utility area, but there are some cooking-related appliances essential to a kitchen diner that might generate significant noise.

Examples are the extractor fan within a cooker hood and the dishwasher.

  • Invest in appliances which promise a low decibel (dB) rating. 
  • The Servis dishwasher, works at just 39dB, which is quieter than a fridge humming;
  • while Bosch offer models with Silence Program and SuperSilence programmes — the quietest work at 38dB
  • Look out products which come with Quiet Mark approval

Other sources of noise might relate to flooring choices. This might be due to the installation of fashionable hard flooring, and exacerbated by the magnifying effects of other hard surfaces and extensive glazing.

The introduction of soft furnishings such as textile curtains or soft panelling to the walls, and the use of rugs to cover some of the floor space are easy ways to absorb some of the noise created.

A more permanent measure would be to use Gyproc SoundBloc, a specially designed acoustic plasterboard, for the walls.