Design experts share their top tips and help you achieve your dream kitchen extension. Avoid making costly mistakes with guidance from key industry experts to plan the most effective space. 

‘Orangery or Conservatory?’

Paul Schofield, concept designer at Apropos:

‘Both orangeries and conservatories make a more personalised statement than brick extensions. The main difference between an orangery and a conservatory lies in the brickwork. Orangeries tend to have a flat, solid roof, which will incorporate a roof-lantern or flat glazing, and outer brickwork to create solid walls. Conservatory extensions are often comprised entirely of glass and, in Apropos’ case, aluminium. The use of glass in both brings the outside in, increasing the sense of light and space.  ‘Orangeries have an ultra-modern on-trend look, with the added benefits of a brick extension – which helps when installing kitchen appliances. However, a conservatory adds much more to your home than just the obvious extra space – there is a certain grandness to a conservatory; it’s the part of the home where families and friends tend to congregate.’

‘Find a good designer’

Lisa Melvin, director of Lisa Melvin Design:

‘It’s important to enlist the help of an experienced interior architect or kitchen designers to work closely with you. They will be able to create a 3D visual of the space from the working drawings produced by your architect. This will allow you to see your new space and appreciate the actual size. This collaboration is vital in order to create a complete, functional interior space using your ideas and your designer’s knowledge. They really will make a big difference to your end result and potentially save you a lot of time and money with their advice. 

‘A wishlist is really important. Go through it in detail with your designer, who will incorporate it into your design and introduce you to the latest innovative products on the market.’

‘Choose the right appliances’

Robert Burnett, head of design at Holloways of Ludlow:

‘Kitchens that are part of an extended living space need to be uncluttered and easy to keep clean, so plan them with plenty of storage space. Consider where to put items often left out on worktops. Washing machines and tumble dryers should ideally be kept in a separate utility room or cupboard if space is limited. Fridges, freezers, dishwashers and extractors can be integrated behind cabinet doors, and ovens/microwaves can be built in. Freestanding appliances, such as range cookers and fridge-freezers, can add character but if the appliance budget is tight, it’s usually better to integrate them. Extractors are often loud, and to be effective usually require straight runs of large ducting, ideally beneath the floor or in the ceiling, so plan this in early on in the design process, when problems can be solved.’ 

‘Fit the right windows’

Matt Higgs, sales director of Kloeber:

‘Bringing the outside into your home has become an essential part of interior design over the last few years.  When choosing external doors for your kitchen extension, French doors and fixed glazing are good for narrow spaces, and folding-sliding, or bi-fold, doors are a perfect way of maximising access to the garden in larger spaces. 

‘Choosing the right frame material and glass type is important, not only for the aesthetics but also the amount of heat and light that is allowed to pass through. Timber and composite are fantastic for insulating, whereas aluminium, being metal, is a conductor, and therefore in most cases isn’t as effective at insulating. The insulating properties of any material are measured as a
U-value, the lower the value the better it is at insulating (the value should be no more than 1.8 W/m2K). You must also consider how much heat and UV light is let in – this is measured as a G-value commonly known as solar gain. Solar gain can be increased to heat up your room using a low-iron glass (this would save on heating bills and be the eco-friendly choice). However, if there is a lot of glass and a lot of sunlight, this isn’t always a good idea, so you could consider solar-control glass to reduce the solar gain. 

‘You could also add a row of small casement windows at a high level along a wall to introduce more light. These can become an interesting feature to incorporate into the kitchen.’ 

‘Create a sociable space’

Oliver James, founder and owner of Oliver James Garden Rooms:

‘In the 1980s and 1990s, design trends were about how many rooms you had and whether you had a separate dining or utility area. Now our clients want open-plan living and a kitchen extension is the perfect solution as everyone gravitates there. My top tip is not to have a central island with an enormous cooker hood over it. It looks great but the hood always gets in the way. Instead, keep the cooker and hood on a wall and use bi-folding doors to create a seamless transition to the garden. This will give you extra entertaining space throughout the warmer months. In a smaller property, choose doors with extra-wide panes of glass. This really creates the illusion of increased space. Keep everything on one level to highlight the view. Choose décor that complements the garden – natural shades and textures will relax the mood of your guests. Consider a wireless audio system, too, to create the perfect ambience.’ 

‘Go for the right kitchen style’

Graeme Smith, senior designer at Second Nature Kitchens:

‘A key consideration is whether you want your kitchen extension to blend with your property’s existing architectural style or to be a deliberate contrast. If you decide to blend the old with
the new, take time to reflect on finishes and materials that will enhance the space, paying attention to any historical detailing and being sympathetic to the property’s original form. 

‘The juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary styles can be stunning, and a light colour palette with natural materials, such as timber and stone, can be hard to be beat. A badly executed kitchen extension could prove a costly investment, so take time to gather pictures and ideas of other projects you like and be guided by your kitchen designer and architect. Review the positive and negative points of your current kitchen, ensuring that frustrating areas are improved in the new layout. Future-proof the interior, taking into account the changing dynamics of the household
(such as children growing up). For a timeless design, a painted kitchen has enduring appeal and comes in a wide colour palette.’

‘Include eco materials’

Matthew Nielsen, director of The Green Building Site:

‘There are a number of areas where you can make environmentally conscious choices to achieve benefits, such as reduced heat loss and lower fuel bills, a healthier environment with fewer chemicals and solvents, and a reduced carbon footprint. 

  •  Increa  se levels of insulation in walls, floors and ceilings.
  • Create an airtight structrure and eliminate draughts.
  • Use natural sunlight to provide free heat through glass.
  • Include triple-glased rooflights and windows to privide light without areas being cold in winter.
  • Install LED downlighter light fittings (90% saving). 
  • Buy the most energy-efficient appliances.
  • Capture rainwater from the roof for use in the garden and for washing cars.
  • Use natural insulation – sheep’s wool, hemp and wood fibre.
  • Decorate with eco paints and oils to reduce pollutants.
  • Use lime plaster: it’s low-carbon and will let the structure breathe.
  • Ensure the kitchen is well ventilated as moisture in the house can lead to asthma and mould growth.’