5 design priorities top kitchen professionals want you to focus on too

If you are starting a kitchen remodel, this is where kitchen designers begin

Blue kitchen with blue kitchen island
(Image credit: Tom Howley)

If you are considering remodelling a kitchen, you may wonder quite where to start. As serial redesigners, we, at H&G, know that the fun part is choosing the look of your kitchen, the cabinetry design, and the decor. But where do kitchen designers start?  

Unsurprisingly, when asked how to design a kitchen, professionals are much more likely to start with functionality, as kitchen designer Tom Howley explains: 'Practicality is the first priority when planning a new kitchen.' 

Below, we ask Tom and flooring expert Isabel Fernandez to tell us their design priorities, so that you know what to have in mind when looking for those inspirational kitchen ideas

1. Layout

Open plan with steel bar, cream, grey and green island, dining table and walls

The Kavanagh Collection in Avocado, Tom Howley

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

Before you consider anything else, kitchen layout ideas should be your first concern and priority. 

‘The layout of the room is what makes a kitchen design successful. The most important thing to consider is how you use your space,' says Tom Howley, Design Director at kitchen company Tom Howley (opens in new tab)

'For example, for open-plan kitchens, will you include a dining area; if so, consider adding a kitchen island with storage built in underneath to maximize space. 

'The overall design of the kitchen should focus on the balance of scale and proportion. Simple, modern updates such as open shelving paired with a curved island give the design a contemporary edge, without losing the traditional craftsmanship values or the storage required,’ concludes Tom. 

2. Flooring

Grey stone flooring, dusky pink base cabinets and island

Hambleton Ivory Stone Effect Porcelain Tiles, Quorn Stone

(Image credit: Quorn Stone)

The largest decorative area – walls aside – is the floor, so it will make a huge difference to the finish of your kitchen decoratively. Kitchen flooring ideas need to be practical and long-lasting, too. The best option overall will always be stone or stone-effect porcelain.

Isabel Fernandez, Director at Quorn Stone (opens in new tab), discusses the importance of not being trend-directed when choosing a floor tile: ‘At the moment, we find customers are leaning towards larger tile sizes as often minimizing the number of grout joints is a priority. 

'In terms of kitchen trends, we always advise customers to go for a classic style in the kitchen area. Purchasing a stone or porcelain floor is an investment for the home and one that often takes careful consideration – our advice is to always go neutral in your chosen floorcovering for ground floor spaces and instead inject color through paint colors and accessories. A lick of paint is far easier to change in years to come than a different floor.’

3. Storage

Grey cabinets and kitchen island with wooden shelves

The Hartford Collection in Chicory, Tom Howley

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

‘Kitchens can look cluttered because kitchen storage hasn’t been adequately considered or planned. Designers can create contemporary and elegant bespoke cabinetry and drawers that can discreetly house the items you use, leaving you with clean, streamlined surfaces. 

'No space is wasted. If you have awkward corners or quirky spaces this will just add to the creativity of the kitchen! Even practical items such as domestic appliances are considered, they come in all shapes, sizes and brands ready to integrate seamlessly into your design,’ explains Howley.

4. Color

White and green cabinets

The Devine Collection in Serpentine, Tom Howley

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

If you are looking for kitchen color ideas, the safe option is to always go neutral – though there's no reason not to drift towards pale blues or greens to create a more unique look that's both easy to live with and classic. 

‘Green kitchens are having something of a moment right now. As a color we associate primarily with nature, this grounding shade has an incredible way of reconnecting us with our surroundings, creating moments of calm and positivity. Serpentine, our striking olive green, is used to splendid effect above in our latest Devine design. It’s a stunning color with earthiness and depth that leaves you feeling nourished and full of life, perfect for kitchen environments. This bold color may pack a punch, but you have a scheme with undeniable appeal when combined with burnished brass hardware and white worktops,’ says Howley.

Grey and white kitchen

Priory Time Worn Sandstone Kitchen Flooring Tiles, Quorn Stone

(Image credit: Quorn Stone)

Remember to include flooring colors as one of your considerations, too, since this will have an impact on how the kitchen cabinetry colors look; flooring will also need to complement your kitchen countertop ideas in terms of both material and color.

‘A big kitchen flooring trend is buff sandstone tiles – offering the ultimate neutral with soft pale wash tones and unique texture. Sandstone, like limestone, is a hardwearing and practical option ideal for kitchen floor tiles; the texture also provides grip underfoot. Buff-colored tiles complement the much-loved modern country look and work with an array of different paint colors,’ concludes Isabel Fernandez.

5. Scale and proportion

Kitchen with green painted cabinetry, island, neutral walls and floor tiles

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

‘Whatever its size or style, the kitchen island, as its name suggests is a centralized feature. It’s in a handy position that allows you to utilize every inch of space, and many of ours have built-in appliances which free up wall cabinets. By centralizing cooking or preparation areas, it makes the kitchen much more sociable, allowing the chef to talk to others as they get dinner ready instead of standing with their back to family and friends,’ says Tom Howley.

Lucy Searle
Global Editor in Chief

Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens since 1990, working her way around the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-nineties. She was Associate Editor on Ideal Home, and Launch Editor of 4Homes magazine, before moving into digital in 2007, launching Channel 4's flagship website, Channel4.com/4homes. In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for Realhomes.com, taking the site from a small magazine add-on to a global success. She was asked to repeat that success at Homes & Gardens, where she has also taken on the editorship of the magazine.