Now that Christmas is almost a distant memory, the need for a new kitchen may have lost some of it’s impetus. But the kitchen industry loves to close a sale, and there are many deals out there to still be had. With parts 1 & 2 you have the main elements of your appliance wish list in the bag. In this instalment, we will be looking at the smaller items in the kitchen arsenal, but with one of the most sought after leading the way.
Believe it or not, there is actually some choice to be had here. We start with the basic difference, integrated and freestanding. The freestanding versions rarely excite, though there are stainless steel versions and our friends at Smeg have produced a counterpart to their Loewe inspired colourful range of fridges. There are also the odd worktop versions around (like the Gota below), if you are really tight on space…
Although the worktop standing dishwasher is cute, the emphasis on any good kitchen design is to unclutter the surfaces by providing adequate storage and properly positioned appliances. Undercounter is the more efficient position for the dishwasher, and if you are right handed, generally to the right side of the sink. The motto here is, ‘Take from the left, pass to the right’.
The standard sizes for freestanding undercounter dishwashers are 45 & 60cm width, but the larger size also comes as an XXL version for 14 place settings instead of the standard 12. When looking at dishwashers, the thing to bear in mind is really the choice of programmes; most importantly check the eco credentials and the drying cycle times. For further information on size choices, water consumption, energy consumption and noise levels read independent kitchen designer Marion John’s (@Majjie on Twitter) excellent blogs here and here for more details . Another consideration is for how much use the dishwasher will get; so if you’re mostly cooking for two, a 45cm version may suffice or if you eat little but often, the dish drawer concept by Fisher & Paykel may provide an even better solution.
Years ago, working in a beautiful showroom in Brompton Cross, we found that rotating the drawers was really useful at keeping the glasses etc clean for our clients use. The system of one drawer filling up and the other cleaning at any given time worked very well for us. In essence, planning your appliance wishlist is not all about brand names but all about how your kitchen will make what you do more efficiently and make the whole process of using the kitchen more enjoyable. Put this ergonomic principle together with the aesthetic quality of a well designed kitchen and the effect on well being is measurable!
Having a built under dishwasher has one major draw back, if it has a full height door; stooping to collect items from the bottom tray. This has been overcome, in part, with the advent of the 90cm wide fully integrated dishwashers (such as the Smeg version above). The aforementioned dish drawers (single version) also accommodate a shorter distance to bend, but these two types of reduced height dishwashers also enable the fitted kitchen a new flexibility: no plinth. As these machines do not stand on the floor, the whole sink run can now either be wall mounted (as with this beautiful Valcucine Artematica Vetro kitchen below), or on legs.
Obviously, there are the two standard 45 & 60cm fully integrated dishwashers, but there also some in-column dishwashers available that can integrate into tall units If you are tight on space, or if you simply want to maximise your storage, these can be valuable additions to the kitchen designer’s solution. Here, as with the wide variety of oven choice, you may be better advised to remain flexible and let your design consultant design in the best option for you. Or, this may become the immutable appliance where you put your foot down and say ‘XXL or nothing!’. Either way, developing an opinion on your wish list before arriving at the kitchen designer’s door is invaluable.
8. Mixer taps
As we have already covered sinks in Part 2, the obvious question is why are we looking at mixer taps now? Well, in your ergonomic kitchen everything is all about flow of movements within tasks. In this section I want us to think about clearing up, rather than preparation, as this is the main use of the kitchen mixer if you are not a ‘bowl-filler’. If you rinse off plates, rather than soak in a bowl of hot soapy water when washing up, then you are advised to really look at spray rinse taps as a priority. They needn’t be as bold as the ONO by KWC (with LED lights, as above), nor as brazen as the Blanco Master-S Baby (preferred by one of our own clients, below).
But there are several pull out spray mixers on the market that are very discreet, where the shower head slots back into the spout itself, such as the Blanco Linus S (below).
Before sprays however, the various considerations of taps are numerous. The first of which is whether to have a mixer tap or separate pillar taps and go all Victorian. I for one, cannot understand why on Earth anyone would want to have separate hot and cold water taps, on quarter turn ceramic discs (standard spindle handles). Talk about faffing around whilst in the middle of creating your culinary master piece or scalding your hands whilst adjusting the taps like a safe-cracker: life is too short. Opt for a mixer tap, that mixes the water into a single spout and you’ll be on solid foundations. Next step is whether it should have one, two or three handles. The single lever versions are great to use when filling pans/kettles in one swift movement and you can have just the right temperature to wash up whilst throwing in the washing up liquid with t’other hand, if you’re a bowl-filler. Two handles starts to get messy; put washing up-liquid down whilst you adjust handles ad infinitum. Pain.
Speaking of which, three handles (the third for filtered water on tap); if I’m going to push you towards one, I’ve not got much to say about three. The Franke Kubus Triflow (above) is an example of three; hot, cold & filtered water on tap. It’s not too harsh on the eyes, but it has been surpassed quite categorically by a mixer that doesn’t have much in the way of looks, but combines four functions in one tap: the catchily titled ‘Zip HydroTap 4in1′ (below). It’ll do everything except pick the kids up from school, but pretty it ain’t…
If, like me, you prefer to surround yourself with objects that please the eye and serve a function; you may already possess a beautiful kettle. If this is the case you can still choose an elegant mixer and still access filtered water through it no matter whether it was built with this function in mind or not. The clever fellows at Abode have come up with what they simply call the ‘Swich’. This will divert the usual cold water through a filter before it reaches the tap at the flick of the, erm, switch…
Yes, it’s another hole in the worktop, but kiss goodbye to the poor range of choice if you want to filter at the tap. They all last around the 6 month mark before you have to change a filter (much longer than a hand held worktop cluttering Britta or the like) and just twist off to swap old for new. And I can’t really navigate to the final section with mentioning the Quooker hot water tap, as it is aesthetically pleasing it its Design version and is available in brushed steel.
9. Waste management
Sorry, couldn’t resist the haughty title, when essentially we’re talking about rubbish. As you should be aware, one of the largest contributors to our global carbon footprint is how we deal with waste. Landfill sites releasing toxins into the soil, excess chemicals used to breakdown oils and other rubbish flushed down the sink waste and our lack of composting all lag a notch behind our attempts to recycle or put more correctly, downcycle. Now I’m not here to lecture on the current short comings in our ‘cradle to grave’ (produce, use, throw away) production cycles. However, I will highly recommend further reading of ‘Cradle to Cradle’ by William McDonough & Michael Braungart which clearly illustrates how we can overcome the current shortfalls.
Waste separation is one way we can help tackle the issue, by giving the local council a good start. Food waste travelling onto landfill sites generates methane which is 20 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. Installing a waste disposal unit such as an In Sink Erator (such as the Evolution 200 below), can grind down the food waste (of which 70% is water anyway) into manageable Biogas at the recycling point in the sewage system. I admit that I used to be against these noisy, smelly and dangerous machines. They are much misunderstood and deserve to be researched thoroughly before dismissing off hand.
Apart from the benefits to the environment, the larger the motor generally the quieter the operation. They will produce noise, like all extractors will for example, but only for the duration of usage which is short. The best way of dealing with smells is to throw your lemon skins down there or rinse through thoroughly each time you use it. There are two types: batch feed and continuous feed. Batch feed switches on and off by twisting the lid after you have filled the machine with a batch of waste and water. Continuous feed is where the lid remains open and water is fed in continuously through the operation until just after switching off the motor. With small children around, batch feed is a safer way to go, and the latest quieter machines have batch feed converters. The continuous feeds come with air switch extensions either as standard or accessories that can mount directly into the worktop in chrome or brushed effect to suit your choice of mixer tap.
Now the real bane in any kitchen design is the waste bins. Generally forgotten on the wishlist, often ridiculously small and always bemoaned; fear not, there is some hope. The standard tall tube shaped Brabantia bin is 20 or 30 litres; stick it anywhere you wish and job done. Not on my watch. This will not give you the opportunity to separate your recyclables. Wherever possible, I try and dedicate one cupboard for multiple waste bins so they are hidden from view. Ideally they would be located next to the sink, as the under sink versions are close to useless, as they are a generally a maximum of 9 litres for the largest. The Euro-Cargo 60 (above) has become standard in most decent kitchen suppliers range. Why? Well each one of the large bins is 35 litres, giving you a whopping 87 litres of storage space before you need to empty into your green recycling bins. There are however, some neat smaller capacity bins that insert into 90cm sink drawers, but I’ll leave that to the kitchen designer of your choice.
That should give you an idea of how an appliance wish list can help give the backbone to any new kitchen design. It can also allow for variation to the developing design by considering alternative types of appliances that can overcome certain design issues. The possible combinations are almost endless and should you require any further assistance, drop us a line. Happy designing!