Nicola Holden Designs – Contemporary Interior Designer, London.

It’s more than a year since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and in that time we’ve all had to adapt and drastically change the way we live and work.  We’re all spending a lot more time at home together – cooking, eating, working, learning and relaxing and many of these activities are taking place in the open-plan kitchen/living area.  Kitchens are still the absolute heart of the home, possibly more than ever before. However, we have also realised the need for spaces dedicated to working from home, with more of an emphasis on sanctuary and a push towards privacy too.  The open-plan concept doesn’t work particularly well if more than one person is working from home or if the kids are being noisy!

Refurbishing your kitchen is one of the biggest home investments you are likely to make, as well as one of the most disruptive.  And, once it’s in, that’s it.  The space can’t just be swapped around. So it’s important to get it right first time to avoid making expensive mistakes!  Flexibility in layout, and an emphasis on zoning is key, with space for eating, entertaining, kids’ homework or zoom calls all factored in.  Zoning ensures we don’t get under each other’s feet in this busiest of spaces.

A successful kitchen is not about how spacious it is – a large, badly planned kitchen is far worse than a well-planned smaller one.  And when it comes to planning your kitchen, it’s important to understand how you use your kitchen.  In order to create an effective working environment, we need to ensure that the entire food operation, from storage to the preparation, and right through to the actual cooking, dishing up, and cleaning up afterwards is catered for as conveniently and effectively as possible.  The idea is to design a kitchen that will be easy and efficient to use, cutting down on wasted steps.  My background in engineering and process flow has been very handy when it comes to designing kitchens!

How To Zone Your Kitchen: Seven Tips To Create The Perfect Layout

Kitchens can be broken up into 6 main zones as follows:

1. Storage

With our increasing awareness around diet, health and wellbeing, and more of us cooking fresh meals from scratch, we need storage for fresh ingredients and dry goods.  Our requirement for storage is becoming increasingly important, with a resulting surge in popularity for walk-in pantries.  We also need to consider the storage of pots, pans and cooking utensils, cutlery and crockery, the increasing array of kitchen gadgets, recipe books, work/ hobby / craft activities, and, of course, cleaning materials and rubbish (recycling, food waste and general waste).

2. Preparation

The preparation zone is the most important area in our kitchens, as this is where we spend the majority of our time when producing a meal. It should include sufficient work surface for completing tasks such as chopping, peeling, mixing, making a sandwich, etc.

Preferably, your storage units and fridge should be in close range of the prep zone, allowing easy access to ingredients, utensils, pots and pans. The kitchen bins should also be located within the prep zone, so you can easily dispose of peelings and packaging without having to cross the space and risk messy spills on the floor.

3. Cooking

The cooking zone typically contains the hob, extractor, oven, microwave, warming drawer(s) and any other cooking-related appliances. Ideally, the cooking zone should sit adjacent to, or opposite, the prep zone.

You should be able to easily move newly prepared food to the hob or the oven from your prep work surface. This will also mean there will be less distance for hot food to travel back to the worktop from the oven or hob.

4. Dining

If you have an open-plan living/ dining/ kitchen, then you’ll want to consider how you move your prepared meal from the preparation and cooking zones to the dining space, so you’ll want these two areas to be close to each other.

5. Washing

The wash zone primarily consists of your sink and dishwasher. However, it’s also good to have your bins nearby, so you can scrape, rinse, and then stack your plates in the dishwasher.  There’s no fun in this post-meal ritual, so it pays to plan an efficient setup, letting you finish up quickly and get back to relaxing.

It’s also a good idea to locate your storage for mugs, plates and glassware at arm’s reach to the dishwasher, making unloading faster, safer and easier.

6. Working

Often, your dining zone will double up as your work / homework / craft zone, but if you have the luxury of space then why not make this a separate, dedicated area giving you the option of working somewhere cosier and less shut-away?  And if planned carefully you can include storage space to hide things away at the end of the day when you ‘leave the office’.

7. Relaxing

Depending on how much space you have, it’s always nice to allocate space to a non-kitchen zone – a small sofa and coffee table, or an armchair and side table, where you can comfortably sit and read while something’s bubbling on the stove.

Ideally the main zones will flow in order of use:

fridge > prep zone > cook zone > serving zone or table > wash zone > clean items put away again. 

Think of even the simplest tasks that you perform in your kitchen, and plan for these.  It’s surprising how much of a difference little touches like this will make to your every day, and your kitchen will feel more designed!  There is loads of inspiration on my kitchen Pinterest board. And if you need any support, I’m always on hand to help.

“A place for everything, everything in its place.”
Benjamin Franklin

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Last week saw KBB return to the NEC in Birmingham. I missed the show last year – something to do with getting married, so I thought I ought to pop up to Birmingham again this year and see what the show had to offer, and how it aligned to the trends that I wrote about on behalf of the BIID (British Institute of Interior Design) for the KBB Preview Magazine.

For an economy that seems to finally be on the up, I was excited to see what the show might offer. I was looking for unexpected materials, textures and even colours. Designs full of fun and frivolity! Sadly I was rather disappointed in the show. There seemed to be fewer exhibitors there than in previous years, and very little new and exciting in the product ranges on show.

2014 is about finding ways to save time, space, and money whilst creating a warm and inviting space. So, let’s take a look at what the kitchen trends for 2014 are, and where I found these at the show. I was on the lookout for kitchen solutions that ooze both style and practicality.

  1. Scandinavian-inspired, clean, white kitchens
    This minimalist, stream-lined look is still very much on-trend for 2014, with its simple, sleek white units, white worktops and unfussy, clean lines. Doca have a great range of super sleek units to fit this brief.


  1. Colour, pattern and fun
    In total contrast to this monochrome minimalism I am noticing an increasingly popular trend towards colour, pattern and fun. And I’m not just talking brightly painted units, like these happy yellow units from Nolte! Ornate tiles with exotic designs and gorgeous, rich colours are stealing the show, but sadly not the KBB show! I think they missed a trick here.


  1. All things natural
    This trend is all about natural wood effects, and I found this fairly rustic but modern looking kitchen at Leicht, complete with knotholes, cracks and a brushed surface to give it the gnarled aged wood character.


  1. Sophisticated neutrals
    Grey is still the new black for kitchen units, but dark, moody blues are also proving to be very fashionable shades, and look great with raw, industrial-style features such as exposed brickwork, wooden worktops and metal pendant lights. Again Leicht had some lovely moody neutrals to support this trend.

  2. Metallics
    These finishes are still very on-trend, with copper being the latest shade to come to the fore. Designers are looking for innovative ways to introduce this colour into their schemes, and I came across these fun sinks from Alveus, which come in copper, gold or anthracite.


  1. The ‘wow’ factor
    As clients increasingly seek the ‘wow’ factor in their kitchens, innovations in appliance technology are allowing the connected home to become a reality for today’s consumers. I know this is not a new product, but I can’t stop loving the Star cooker hood from Elica to add a bit of glamour and sparkle into your kitchen!


What are you lusting after for your kitchen today?

“Designers must produce what the public has not yet imagined.”
Steve Jobs

Image credits from respective companies.

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