Clever Kitchen Design


Kitchens are one of the largest investments when building or renovating, but if designed well they will add much more than their equivalent value to your home’s resale value. This design guide steps you through the methodology used by Look Design Group when working with clients to ensure an outcome that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Follow these 5 key steps to create your own designer kitchen and if you get stuck, we would be only too happy to assist you further.



step 1

Equal consideration needs to be given to what you would like your kitchen to do as well as how you would like it to look. A good design outcome must balance aesthetics with functionality

If starting the process by yourself, writing a checklist of all your functional requirements is the best way to start, as there is always a range of design solutions to consider. For example:

  • What do you like to cook and how would your kitchen best do this?
  • Would you like your wall oven mounted up high or can you live with it being mounted under the bench top?
  • Will you have two people cooking in the kitchen together?
  • Do you have any large appliances that need to be accommodated or additional storage needs?

There is no point spending money on a beautiful new kitchen if you still have the same old storage problems, so give some thought to your project’s requirements before moving onto the aesthetics.

Once your functions are clearly defined, begin compiling some good visual references from books and/or magazines to formulate your ideas of what your ideal kitchen would look like. Note any features that you are particularly drawn to and start thinking of how you might be able to incorporate them into your design, however keep it all conceptual at this stage. Start a folder or notebook of ideas that appeal to you.

Bottom: Look’s custom designer kitchens incorporate all client requests, such as the under-floor cellar in a compact Paddington terrace.


step 2

Give careful consideration to the surrounding living zones of your home when choosing the best layout, location and look for your new kitchen. Kitchens today form the dynamic heart of the home rather than being a separate, self-contained entity. Consider removing a wall in the renovation process rather than compromising your new design because of current spatial limitations – the initial cost will be insignificant if it greatly improves your daily living.

Once you have a checklist of your functional requirements and some conceptual ideas that take into consideration your surrounding living zones, start planning your layout. Kitchens need to be very well planned, as there is a lot going on in a relatively small footprint. So before you rush out to purchase a double, freestanding oven that you have fallen in love with, you need to survey your available space to determine what will fit.

Start by measuring the available space and block it out with the approximate sizes of each item from your checklist. Be sure to include minimum circulation clearances required for each of these elements. It does not matter how pretty your plan it is, but it must be to scale!

Once you know what layout works best for you and your home, ensure that your three main work areas – your sink, fridge and oven/cooktop – are close enough to each other that they function well when cooking. Old schools of thought used to refer to this as the ‘golden triangle’ with each element positioned on one of the three sides of a triangle. This can be restrictive so the best approach is for all three elements to be no further than three metres apart so that they can be easily accessed during cooking. Too often unscaled mud-maps of dream kitchens that look good on paper translate to expensive mistakes when construction starts. If you are unsure of how to do this, engage a professional to assist you.

If you are considering a galley-style kitchen that has two parallel work surfaces, make sure that you have enough circulation space so two people can comfortably pass one another when in the kitchen together.

Finally, when planning your layout ensure you have adequate room adjacent to your fridge, as most fridge doors open beyond 90 degrees. It sounds simple but many kitchens have poorly designed fridge recesses where the doors cannot open fully for cleaning and removal of drawers because they are not properly planned.

DESIGN TIP Consider using contrasting materials for your island bench for added visual interest. Top: Look L Shape Island design with contrasting timber island bench top. Bottom: Look Galley Island design with contrasting timber veneer island cupboards.


step 3

Planning of your services is a very important part of the design process. If you want your kitchen to be built on time and within budget, early provision is the key factor. Service inclusions are elements such as ventilation, lighting and electrical. The location and specification of these elements must be well documented. Some key points to consider:

Natural & Mechanical Ventilation Ideally your kitchen will have both natural and mechanical ventilation to assist with eliminating cooking odours. Try to give your kitchen that extra designer touch with a great view for natural ventilation but keep mechanical ventilation discreet.

Natural & Artificial Lighting Ideally your kitchen will have ample natural and artificial lighting. Make provision for both task and ambient artificial lighting, as it makes a huge difference to the appearance and mood of your kitchen. Install a skylight if natural lighting is inadequate, to make the most of natural light during daylight hours.

Power points Power points in kitchens should be discreet, located away from water sources and compliant with AS3000 restriction zones.

Top: Look Galley Island design with contrasting timber veneer island cupboards. Bottom: Look L Shape Island design with contrasting stone island bench top.


step 4

In order for your project to now take shape, it’s time to start selecting your materials and fixtures. For most people, this is the fun part! Go through the visual references you compiled earlier and get shopping at some appliance showrooms.

When considering how much to invest in your kitchen fixtures, make sure they are of a standard that would be expected by any future purchasers – a cheaper alternative may not be the best long-term investment for your property’s resale value or your kitchen’s longevity. Try to also ensure that your materials and fixtures complement each other.

Above: Look’s custom designer kitchens incorporate all client requests, such as the vertical-lift computer screen concealed within the joinery of this Mosman kitchen.


step 5

The final stage is to compile all of your information into the necessary documentation ready for construction. This stage clearly defines how your design actually works when all of the elements are put together and how it is to be constructed. Your final project documentation should include all of the following:

Fixtures, Finishes & Electrical Schedule A description of materials, finishes, fittings and fixtures to be used.

Construction Drawings Describes all of the building works to a scale of 1:25 or 1:20 of your floor plan, all elevations and cross sections. Includes details of lighting, electrical, joinery and tiling layouts.

Building Contract The Home Building Act 1989 and Home Building Regulation 2004 legislates for all contracted building works exceeding $20,000 to be covered with Home Warranty Insurance, so always sign a contract and ask for your Schedule and Drawings to form part of your contract. This may prove very valuable should any disputes arise between yourself and your builder or if you need to make a claim for defective and/or incomplete building work.

Providing good documentation saves you both time and money by eliminating costly errors and could mean the difference between getting what you want rather than simply your builder’s interpretation of your needs. Also, by preparing the first two parts of your project documentation, you can obtain accurate building tenders and not be hit up for any hidden costs.


Below are examples of the types of construction drawings that Look Design Group uses to document kitchen renovations and building works. Please note that these drawings are typically supplied in A3 size format and are a minimum of what you should provide to your builder.


next step

If you found this guide useful we would love to assist you further or hear from you. Look Design Group can offer you a full Bathroom Design Service and can also assist you with other areas of your home, including Council Development Applications, to give you a more holistic approach to your design process. Feel free to contact Natalie McDonald, Design Principle of Look Design Group, directly on 0438 699 949 for an obligation free on-site discussion of your project’s requirements. As a guide, Bathroom Design Service fees are as follows:

›› $350 + GST

Provide on-site colour and design consultation for two hours to go over your proposed bathroom design and materials, prior to construction.

Package price includes:

  • Assessment of functional & aesthetic requirements to maximise integration with surrounding living zones
  • Review of kitchen drawings & inclusions
  • Material & finishes selection ››


Provide custom made Kitchen Design, complete with full construction drawings and finishes schedule. Supply drawings for tender to cabinetmaker and/or builder as required. Package Price includes:

  • On-site measure of existing kitchen including survey of existing services
  • CAD Detailed & Dimensioned Floor Plan to scale 1:25
  • CAD Floor plan showing electrical & lighting to scale 1:25
  • CAD Detailed & Dimensioned Elevations to scale 1:25 of all elevations
  • Provide Fixtures & Finishes Schedule on Floor Plan for tender
  • Drawings to include all joinery detailing as required
  • Provide paint, bench top and other material selections as required


To give on-site advice during construction, our fee is $150/hr. Time is charged from departure from and subsequent return to Frenchs Forest office, to allow for travel time.

Beautiful Kitchen PDF