Begin planning your perfect functional kitchen for your lifestyle 

We’ve invited local independent businesses based in North Devon to share tips for projects around your home, whether practical advice or fun projects for the family.

First up we have Natalie Hare, a member of the Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers (APDO) who runs Hare To Organise, a bespoke decluttering & organising service. Natalie has written the best ways to prepare for designing a functional kitchen.

If you get inspired, take a look at our tips to measure your kitchen to start the process of designing your new kitchen, or visit Hare To Organise to learn more great organising tips & discover their services.

When considering the design of your dream it is easy for the practicalities that are so important to keeping a kitchen clean and organised to be forgotten as aesthetics come to mind first. However, you don’t need to compromise when it comes to having both function and beauty. That’s why I have created the ultimate guide to designing a functional kitchen; so that you feel equipped to make the best choices and get your money’s worth.

Step one – Declutter

Before you can know what kind of storage you’ll be needing in your new kitchen, you need to know how much stuff is going into it. Because people don’t renovate their kitchens very often, it is easy for unnecessary gadgets, appliances and crockery to pile up in the deep dark corners of your cupboards. Once you’ve pulled everything out and gotten rid of what you don’t need, you’ll know exactly what you have left. This should be done either before or in the very early stages of the design process, as this may change your opinion on how you’d like to use your kitchen. Enlisting a professional organiser to help with this step can be very beneficial, as we work with you to discuss the practical issues and solutions for better function in a space.

Step two – Visualise

When having input into the design of your new kitchen, I advise you to take a good look at the one you are using now.  What annoys you?  What makes using your kitchen difficult? If someone came into your kitchen to make you a meal, would they find things with ease? Visualise yourself using the space so that you can efficiently plan out your storage. If you put something next to where you are most likely to use it, then the chances are better that it will get put away and space will stay tidy. Don’t forget to consider physical health:  if you or someone else in your home has a health condition that affects your mobility, then this needs to be considered in the plans. Having low cupboards may not be a good idea if you cannot get down to floor level, equally having lots of upper storage isn’t ideal if someone is in a wheelchair. This is a great discussion to have with your designer as they will know about creative solutions that may not be obvious.

Joe’s tip: These considerations are brilliant to mention to your designer at the very start of the process, either during your home measurement appointment or when you send across your dimensions for your initial design. The better idea your designer has of how you’d like to use your kitchen from the start can really speed up the design process & they’ll be able to make practical suggests for your intended use.

Step three – Organise

So at this point, you know how much stuff you have and you can visualise how you’re going to use it in your new kitchen. That’s a great start. Your designer should now be able to give you a design that is functional, beautiful and perfectly tailored to your needs. Even though the actual skeleton of the kitchen is very important, it can also be helpful to have some organisational systems within the cupboards. Anyone who has been to a cupboard in my house will know that I have a little bit of an obsession with neatly packed boxes and baskets.  What I love most about them is the fact that I can empty a cupboard in minutes and I haven’t got to worry about sticky marks/oil etc on the surface of the unit.

  • Rather than having open packets of flour, sugar etc floating around, decant them into clear containers with labels.
  • Baskets and boxes containing food items make it easier to see what you have.

How many times have you been to the supermarket and got a bag of pasta, only to find two stuffed down the back of another cupboard?  Not only does this technique simplify your storage, but it cuts down on food waste when you can see everything clearly.

Joes Tips – clever storage solutions can make organising so much easier, consider internal drawers inside cupboards, this allows you to pull out the shelf and visibly access all your products, whilst products can get lost or forgotten at a back of a cupboard.

Step Four – Finalise

So now you’ve done all of the steps that have lead to making a decision on a kitchen that not only looks great but functions exactly how you need it to. It can be nerve-wracking to finalise something as big as a kitchen, so I’ve created a final checklist of things that often get overlooked to ensure that you’ve considered everything before signing on the dotted line:

  • Corner storage – Can you reach all of the areas of your storage? There are many different corner solutions now that allow you to access your items by sliding out a tray or rotating a shelf. Things that are not easily accessible tend to be forgotten about.
  • Bins – Have you considered where your bins will go? If you have decided not to have built-in bin systems, make sure that you’ve allocated space for them in the floor-plan.
  • Cleaning supplies – Don’t forget about your mop, bucket, broom etc… It may be worth ensuring that you have a long skinny compartment in your cupboards to store these awkward tools if you don’t plan on storing them in a utility room or under the stairs.

Getting a new kitchen can be very exciting, but try not to get caught up in the aesthetics before the practical side is finished. Follow my ultimate guide and you can have a kitchen that not only looks beautiful, but is truly functional as well. Happy designing!

Feeling inspired?

If you feel inspired begin planning your new kitchen, why not order a free copy of our brochure or book your free design appointment to start creating your dream kitchen.

If you’re curious about better storage, such as built-in bins and corner cupboards, take a look at our kitchen storage section for a few of our many options.

If you’d like to learn more decluttering and organising tips visit Natalie Hare’s website, Hare To Organise ( or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

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