If there’s someone that’s truly the heart of the home, it’s the kitchen. Regardless of age and routine (even teenagers need to raid the fridge sometimes), the kitchen is a place for creating and catching up together, and the best kitchens seem to capture this innately.

Having seen some kitchen highs and lows at est hq, we’re of the opinion that the secret to a winning kitchen is in large part to the layout. Let’s be frank – no matter how beautiful the individual elements of your space, or how high-end the appliances, the right kitchen layout, executed effectively, will allow you to fully embrace the opportunities of your space. So for those who may be in the early stages of considering their own kitchen renaissance, where do you start, how do you choose and what’s needed in constructing your kitchen floorplan? With some help from our friends at Smeg, we take a closer look at three key kitchen layouts and how to make them work for your home.

Produced in partnership with Smeg

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“The best place to start planning your kitchen is with you; you need to understand how you function or how you’d like to function in the kitchen space” says Darren Genner of Mimosa Design. Genner points out before considering the specifics of a layout, you have to be realistic about your position – for instance, how many people live in the home and may use the space at a time? This type of thinking will allow you to make clear decisions on the zones of the kitchen (how much space for food preparation, how much storage) and the appliances you need. While choosing induction over gas cooking may not seem as exciting as choosing a new benchtop, it’s a key decision that will affect how you use the space on a daily basis. So while we certainly tend to get swept up in the visual inspiration, a clear idea of the ‘why’ of your kitchen will keep you on track for all the decision-making to follow.

Once you’ve done the big thinking, chances are some of the layout decision-making will be done for you, but it’s where you then take the layout that will be the difference between an intriguing and an inspiring space.

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Layout 1: The Island Bench Kitchen

The most popular of kitchen layouts and for good reason – an island bench kitchen creates an immediate way to bring dining and preparation spaces together in a welcoming setting. The Viking by Crown penthouse kitchen is a perfect example, where hosts are spoilt for space while guests can feel relaxed in an informal dining area. However, this layout’s biggest drawcard can also be a problem if not planned out correctly – creating a space with multiple zones can lead to conflicting uses of space and this should be front of mind when considering how much prep space and storage you are utilising through the island bench vs the rest of the kitchen layout. Darren Genner also points out careful thinking needs to go into the appliance selection and placement; “you don’t want all these elements too far apart or separated by the bench – for instance, the fridge should be within easy access to each of the functional zones created.”

For both ease of use and being mindful of maximising flow between the island bench and remaining kitchen area, a compact yet powerful oven and cooktop in a sleek minimal style are this layout’s MVPs. Smeg’s Classic Thermoseal Pyrolytic Oven and the Linear Gas Cooktop are a well-matched pair as seen in the above kitchen design – the fact that both come in fingerprint proof stainless steel just sweetens the deal further in our books.

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Layout 2: The Galley Kitchen

While it historically might have signified a small space (a ship’s kitchen is hardly luxurious after all), the galley kitchens of today bring a sleek and streamlined layout to homes of all sizes, as shown perfectly in the kitchen of House Chapple by Tribe Studio Architects. Here the galley layout adds, rather than subtracts, space, while inviting flow throughout the kitchen space and into the living area – this is the transformative effect on a space of a well-executed galley kitchen.

Because of its parallel shape, careful consideration needs to be taken when planning the elements in the space to avoid bottlenecks. While that might seem obvious in terms of appliances, it has a knock-on effect in the storage and space planning – coming back to your kitchen flow, how many of the cupboards/bench spaces will you need to draw on at once?

When it comes to appliances to suit the galley kitchen, again we find ourselves singing the praises of a hardworking, well-proportioned oven like the 90cm Classic Thermoseal Oven, complimented by a well-sized topmount gas cooktop. While these are larger features, the galley kitchen calls for appliances that can multitask – and with 10 cooking functions in the Thermoseal Oven alone, these bigger proportions are definitely worth the extra centimetres.

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Layout 3: The Compact Kitchen

Just because your space is small doesn’t mean you should despair when it comes to a layout.

“This style of kitchen can be the best” says Genner, “as it brings out the most creative solutions and can create a great user experience when done well.” Case in point is this clever compact kitchen by Shelley Roberts, who packs all the punch of a larger layout to a pint-sized apartment.

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Hiding the appliances under enduringly-chic white cabinetry, Roberts squeezes use from every millimetre of the space without it feeling cluttered. Structuring the kitchen’s features around a grid with the sink in the middle creates an illusion of a simple layout, a simplicity further complimented by keeping all the appliances along the same wall. Refining the material palette to just stainless steel and laminate also adds the illusion of space and depth rather than drawing attention. With thoughtful design and multi-tasking spaces, bigger isn’t always better.

To pack a punch in a small space, opt for a similarly uncluttered facade that hides away all your necessary appliances – the less visible, the better. And when it comes to appliances, go for size-sensitive inclusions that still pack a punch. The Diamond Series fully-integrated dishwasher can fit up to 15 place settings with ten different wash programs, while the Classic Compact Speed Oven cooks approximately 30% faster than conventional cooking. Should you have a bit more space to play with, consider a freestanding cooker (as seen in the Bank Studio kitchen) to add a statement feature and greater cooking capacity.

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Whether you’re blessed with space to play or working with restraints, one thing for sure is there’s no longer a generic ‘white box’ kitchen for the modern home. It’s about living and enjoying your space throughout styles and seasons – and should reflect your individual personality and well as be flexible to changes over the years. And while we at est may be bias, we feel it’s worth pointing out not only do Smeg have distinctly different choices for whatever your design approach looks like, they’re out to give you design choice beyond freestanding or built-in – because your kitchen really should be a reflection of your way of life, and every kitchen is as unique as its inhabitants.

View our est favourites from Smeg on the Design Directory here.

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