Wondering how to plan a kitchen? Choosing a new kitchen is one of the most exciting home renovation projects. It can also be the most expensive, stressful and time-consuming.

Planning a kitchen involves a lot of thought, from picking the right style, to finding a designer and agreeing the kitchen layout. However tempted you are to rush into a showroom and choose your design, it’s vital that you take plenty of time to consider what you really want.

Breaking the planning process into manageable steps will make realising your dream kitchen idea a little easier. Think of it as a journey, and give each step all the time and consideration it needs.

Our simple steps offer tips on everything from design inspiration to appliance installation.

How to plan a kitchen: step-by-step

First, have a good clear-out. This means you won’t factor in items you haven’t used for years. Then take a look around your existing kitchen and make a list of all the things you like and dislike.about:blank

This could be anything from how much storage there is – and where it is – to the types of appliances and colour of the cabinetry. This will help you focus on retaining or improving particular aspects. And avoid all the things not to do when designing a kitchen.

1. Assess all your needs

A white kitchen with mixed wooden and white cabinets and white worktopsView colours

Next, address what the kitchen is going to be used for. It sounds obvious, but you need to think about who will be primarily using the space. What sort of meals will they be cooking? How often will you want to entertain? And do you need separate areas for laundry and dining?

Once you have a good idea of what you need, as well as what you want, you’re on your way.

Think about whether the existing space and layout works or if it would benefit from a kitchen extension. The most common building work involves knocking down a wall between the kitchen and dining room. This creates a more open-plan kitchen if you have the chance.

‘Consider things that your current kitchen is restricting you from doing and try to build in features that enhance your experience,’ advises Paul Gibbs, Kitchens Buying Manager, B&Q.

If you’re planning a larger refit or build, make sure you talk to your local council about Planning Permission or Building Regulations approval. Visit the Planning Portal for further information.

Key questions to ask yourself

  • What don’t you like about your current kitchen?
  • How do you want the new space to work?
  • Are you a lover of modern or traditional design?
  • What’s your total budget?
  • What are your top 5 kitchen must-haves?

2. Calculate a budget

A neutral kitchen with yellow bar stools, crockery and flowersView colours

Before you start selecting the finest granite worktops and the latest electrical gadgets, set yourself a budget with an upper limit. This way, you have an amount in your head that you know you cannot go over.

Remember, plan for the unexpected! Once you have ripped out the old kitchen, you never know what might lie beneath. There could be costly problems to fix before you go any further.

Make a list of all the elements you’ll need to allow for – cabinets, worktops and kitchen splashback ideas, sink, tap and appliances.

If you want to create wow factor, there are plenty of ways to do so with LED lighting, electric doors and smart storage solutions. But these will cost extra, so be prepared to compromise if your budget is tight.

Open shelving is less expensive than closed cupboards, for example. While capacious low-level, pull-out storage may mean you need fewer wall units, which saves on cost.

Then there are the installation costs and any preparation work. This includes plastering and painting, heating and flooring, as well as plumbing, gas and electrical work.

Don’t forget to include all plumbing, electrics and builder’s quotes into your overall budget. They are quite easy to leave out in the heat of the moment. It’s good to make sure your budget includes a 10 per cent contingency fund to cover any unexpected extra costs.A kitchen with geometric monochrome flooring and yellow chairsView colours

If you’re in a bind about where to splash the cash, here are our top tips on where to spend and where to save:

  • Always go for the best worktops you can afford, as they are one of the most hardworking elements of any kitchen. Granite, composite and solid surfaces are all good investments as they are tough, durable and will give your kitchen a luxurious finish.
  • Next, make sure your cabinets are of good quality. Don’t be tempted to skimp on thin carcasses, as they’ll not last very long. You want at least a 15mm thickness all round – if not more.
  • Think about savings on your choice of doors. We can’t all afford rich wood veneers, so why not recreate the same look with a laminate or PVC foil finish instead? Even hi-gloss doors come in different price brackets depending on whether they are lacquered or laminated. ‘While they all essentially look the same, a lacquered kitchen can cost considerably more than the laminate equivalent,’ explains kitchen designer Paul Bagguley from In-Toto Batley.
  • Spend wisely on appliances, too, buying the best oven and hob you can afford. But perhaps consider a less expensive brand for the laundry and do without the coffee machine and wine cooler. It’s all about compromise if your budget is under strain, so make sure you spend on the things that matter. You can always add luxury small appliances and accessories in years to come.

3. Consider plumbing and heating

A galley kitchen with pale blue cabin, roof lantern and parquet flooringView colours

Will you be using existing plumbing for sinks and appliances or will you require additional pipe work?

If you’re planning to include a kitchen island containing a sink or other appliances in your design, ensure that plumbing and electricity supplies are in place before flooring is laid. Work out where appliances, both big and small, are going to be and check you have plug points where you need them.

Underfloor heating is a popular choice for kitchens as radiators can take up valuable space. If you’re opting for underfloor heating, installing it prior to laying the kitchen floor is essential.

4. Look for lighting options

When planning kitchen lighting ideas, it’s good to make the system quite flexible. This will allow you to regulate areas of the room independently. Secondary lighting, such as spots above cooking and preparation areas, is also useful.A white kitchen with metro tiles and wrought iron lights over the kitchen islandView colours

Consider your kitchen must-haves. Do you long for sleek worktops, a statement island or lots of cupboards for storage? Or are there some specific appliances that you think will make your life in the kitchen much easier?

Everybody likes to work in their own particular way and each person has a different list of priorities. So, it’s important to write yours down at the beginning to ensure your kitchen is tailored to your family’s specific needs. This will also save a lot of time and trouble when it comes to discussing your project with a kitchen specialist.