Make your kitchen eco friendly

With the move towards eco friendliness seemingly endless, it is perhaps unsurprising that within the kitchen there are a number of ways to make your kitchen and what goes on in it, more eco friendly. Whether this involves the use of certain materials, or simply how waste is disposed of, or the type of lighting used, there are plenty of ways to help the planet.

Below you will find a series of tips to help you keep on the right side of eco friendliness

Buy to last

When buying kitchen cooking ware and utensils buy them with longevity in mind. Although generally more costly initially, the fact is that stainless steel or cast iron utensils and cookware will last much longer than cheaper versions. This means that in terms of ecology, fewer items are needed to be made as the ones purchased will last longer. Also avoid Teflon if possible, apart from its health hazards, it has a limited useful shelf life.

Energy

What energy you use to cook with makes a difference. Gas is a natural form of energy, being a fossil fuel, however exploration and extraction takes its toll on the climate. Electricity is mainly produced from coal fired power plants, which are obviously a no go, although nuclear power plants now provide approx 5% of the UK’s electrical requirement whilst new forms of energy production such as wind farms and offshore water related energy systems are coming online in the future.

Choose your appliances with care

All appliances come with an energy rating. This enables you as the buyer to decide which one suits your particular requirements. Obviously the better the rating then the better the eco friendliness. Energy efficiency is the key factor here. Also ensure that you maintain your appliances regularly. This usually involves nothing more than cleaning the filters and unblocking pipes etc if required.

Efficient cooking

One of the most cost effective techniques used by an increasing number of people is to reduce cooking times by placing several items in the oven at the same time. What we mean by this is when cooking a specific meal, instead of cooking some of the items on a stove or microwave, place all of them in the oven and use the same amount of energy that would be used anyway, plus saving energy by not using other appliances such as stoves, cooker rings or microwaves.

Use fresh ingredients from local suppliers

By using fresh ingredients rather than purchasing pre packed items, your also helping the environment. Think about it, firstly your not purchasing a plastic container which means that another one won’t be made and when it comes to disposal, fresh ingredients are the best you can get. Add to this the fact that you can buy from local produce suppliers, makes it even better. Not only is it environmentally friendly but also supports local trade.

How to measure your kitchen

When looking a renovating or replacing a kitchen, one of the most important elements especially when it comes to designing, is to accurately measure your current kitchen and available space. This will determine exactly what units can be placed where and how the whole kitchen can be designed.

To help, we have provided a few handy tips to help you

1) Draw an outline of the shape of your kitchen space

It doesn’t need to be to scale or expertly drawn, it simply needs to show the various elements of the existing space.

include the location of

Windows
Doors
Utilities
Walls

Mark up the various locations of the main features such as windows, doors etc to ensure that any planning takes into account openings and also the current location of utilities. This part is important as if not done correctly you will incurr additional costs if utilities need to be moved to a different location

2) Create zonal areas

Jot down the desired usage for each specific area, eg,dining area, work surfaces etc.

If you already have an idea of where you want to place specific elements such as appliances, then make a not of them and place them in the desired location.

3) Take measurements

When it comes to actually taking measurements, the key is to use the layout that you have drawn previously as outlined above, then breakdown each area into specifically labeled areas.

For example, take each wall and label them alphabetically, and then measure each wall and make a note of it in a corresponding key, to keep the layout drawing clear.

Once you have taken the measurements for each area, you will then have an overall plan which includes measurements for the complete kitchen area

Also note down areas that you will want specific types of lighting. This is important to ensure that you do not end up having to pay for additional work to move cabling, installing electrical sockets etc.

Plan your Kitchen lighting

Kitchen lighting is one of the most important elements of any kitchen as it sets the mood/ambience of the kitchen. The problem for many people is how to set up the style and location of their kitchen lighting to set the desired mood.

We have years of experience and have designed and fitted numerous kitchens, so we thought it would be useful to provide you with some handy guidance. So below is some advice on how to create the right ambience in your kitchen by the effective use of lighting.

One point to note is that if the lighting that your planning is different to the current arrangement, then you will need to seek professional help from an electrician as to what is required. For example if wanting downlighters, then under floor cabling may well be required which needs to be done by a qualified electrician.

Specific areas

Obviously in specific areas, the lighting is crucial. This includes the preparation area, where food is prepared as well as the cooking are. Both require relatively bright lighting, usually white, to ensure that the individual can see what they are preparing and cooking. Another element of lighting to be considered is if you have a particular feature that you would like highlighted, this also needs to be taken into consideration.

Dimmers

A popular choice for many are dimmer switches which allow the lighting to be adjusted to suit. A dimmer switch can be used with a variety of lighting systems, but care must be taken to ensure that the light bulbs, LED lighting etc, is the correct style for dimmer switches.

Layering

This is a term used by designers to create a zonal lighting system. The premise is simple enough, it simply means to create areas within the kitchen where lighting is different, such as the aforementioned cooking and preparation areas, as well as the dining areas or breakfast bars.

Latest trends

As with all forms of technology, lighting is no different. Sensor operated options now exist, as well as timer versions and even slider style lighting which is LED based and which can be moved to wherever you are situated to provide more light. These types of lights are fitted on rails and are a relatively new innovation.

As with any form of refurbishment, planning is crucial. With lighting ensuring that the relevant cabling and electrical points are where you need them and also take into account that if you want to move elements such as dining tables etc, try to make sure that your lighting will still be ideal for that scenario.

Kitchen tips

The kitchen, being the hub of the home and often a central point for family gatherings is the ideal location for many reasons. However there are some annoying facets of a kitchen and related factors which can be avoided with simple guidelines. For instance, the kitchen is home to a variety of appliances and work surfaces within the area. Many of these surfaces and appliances may well require regular maintenance to ensure smooth and efficient functionality. Within this blog post we provide you with a variety of Kitchen tips as well as a handy guide of what and how to maintain certain regularly used kitchen appliances to ensure they keep running smoothly.

1) Whiteboard

Although not technically a maintenance tip the first one on our list is a whiteboard, placed on or close to the fridge. Ask yourself how many times have you been to the shops and forgotten something important that you needed? A whiteboard is the answer. Simply jot down any items that you want to remember and every time you go to the fridge, you will see it and remember. It is a fact that you are more likely to remember something if you see it written down frequently.

2) Get a steam cleaner

Steam cleaners are all the rage nowadays. These handy little appliances can be used to clean almost any surface or item in a kitchen. One of the key points of a steam cleaner is the fact that it doesn’t use any form of chemical or abrasives to clean, it just uses steam.

3) Regularly clean filters

This is a common mistake made by most people. Several appliances within the kitchen use filters which filter the water being expelled from the unit. With constant use they do become blocked with waste matter which then affects their performance. Both washing machines and dish washers both use filters that are usually easily accessible at the front or just inside the units. Simply take them out and clean them once a month with a light brush and detergent to clean away any excess material and then place the filter back into its enclosure.

4) Create a weekly dinner menu

One of the constant gripes that many will understand if they are the main cook in the house is “what’s for dinner”. One simple way to eradicate this annoying habit is to simply come up with a weekly menu of meals, one for each day. THis way nobody will need to ask whats for dinner anymore, and you will find that your shopping bill may well go down as you will buy only the specific items required for each dish of the day.

Kitchen gadgets for 2015

Most of us love a gadget, but in the kitchen they can not only be a novelty but can also serve a very useful service. Having scoured the latest gadgets, some of which are time honoured in that they have been around for some time, we have compiled a list of what we consider to be the top 5 kitchen gadgets which everyone should have in their kitchen armoury.

We do not mention any particular brands, but we list the specific type of product and what it does and why it is useful.

1) Meat tenderiser

One of the inherent problems when cooking certain meats such as beef steaks is that it can be slightly tough and full of sinews. Even the best cuts of beef can have the same issues, so we always suggest that a meat tenderiser be a part of your kitchen tool set. There are various options available, some of which are simply hammer style, whilst other more expensive types tend to use multiple blades to tenderise the meat.

2) Set of scales

Absolutely essential, in our eyes, is a decent set of scales. Electronic scales offer the ideal solution. Why are they important? Try measuring a certain number of ounces of butter when your next cooking a recipe and the answer will be obvious! A set of scales provides the means to efficiently weigh and measure the correct amounts of ingredients. Need was say anymore….

3) A decent set of sharp knives

Without doubt, a good set of sharp knives is essential. For all food preparation which involves cutting or slicing vegetables, meat etc, a sharp knife is a critical required item. Prices vary but a good set should set you back upto £50

4) Rice Cooker

Now, why have we put in a rice cooker? Well studies have shown a significant increase in the amount of rice we consume probably due to the fact that we in the UK have woken up to the dietary benefits of rice. However, it can also harbour unwanted elements so careful and thorough cooking of rice is essential. That’s where a rice cooker comes in. Usually costing around £50+ it provides a welcome and useful addition to any home.

5) Juicer

OK, for the same reason as we included a rice maker, a juicer is an ideal kitchen gadget. We all know that fruit and veg are full of useful nutrients and many of us simply do not get enough. This is why we have included a juicer. It provides a simple yet effective way of introducing the essential vitamins etc that can be found in fruit and vegetables by simply juicing them and having them as a daily drink or tonic.

Other gadgets which are worth a mention are…

Food processor, egg topper, corkscrew, coffee machine, colander and peelers.

How to adjust kitchen unit doors

Over time all kitchen cupboard doors require to readjusted to ensure that they open and close efficiently. In essence what happens is that through natural wear and tear, the relevant hinges move slightly and therefore the alignment of the doors themselves becomes disjointed. The method of adjustment is a simple process and below is outlined the details of how to adjust kitchen unit doors to keep your cupboard doors aligned and looking perfect.

The image above is a picture of a typical cupboard door hinge. Although there may well be variations, they will all have the same basic features.

One side of the hinge, which has two screw holes and an indented section, is the part of the hinge which is attached to the door itself. Most prefabricated replacement doors will come with a circular section close to the edge of the door where this section is placed. Some also have marks where the screws go. This part of the hinge is not usually adjustable, although some hinges do provide a larger adjustable screw hole which allows some movement up and down.

The main part of the hinge is the section which attaches to the side of the carcass where the door is to be hung. As you can see from the image there are several sections. The base plate itself is the part which is attached to the carcass and as indicated usually is available with the ability to provide some movement up or down. The particular hinge depicted actually has two section for screws, whereas some come with only one set of screw holes.

The main section which provides the adjustment options is actually the section which has a protruding screw and a screw at the end which adjusts the movement into and away from the carcass, whilst the main protruding screw adjusts the angle of the door.

In terms of how to adjust kitchen unit doors below are some common problems associated with misaligned cupboard doors and how to correct them.

Vertical height

Adjustment of the vertical height is limited in some respects, if the same screw holes and position are maintained. However most hinges provide slotted screw holes that allow a certain amount of movement, usually more than sufficient to realign the doors. Simple unscrew slightly the four screws which are attached to the cupboard door and the carcass, then reposition the door exactly where you want it and then tighten all four screws to keep in place.

Side and Angle adjustment

The main protruding screw shown in the image, is the one used mainly for side and angle adjustment. Simply unscrew or tighten both screws individually to adjust the angle and side movement. Initially it may well help to align the left hand side of the left door with the edge of the carcass to provide a starting point. Aim to have a gap between the door and the carcass of around 1mm, from top to bottom. This will then provide the ideal alignment to then continue with the remaining doors.

The 4 Golden Rules of Kitchen Design

When designing a kitchen, as with any project, it pays to plan ahead. However with a kitchen, due it being the heart of the home and essentially one of the most  important rooms in a house, certain rules or guidelines should be followed to ensure that the kitchen will be:

A) Fit for purpose

B) An efficient area for food preparation and cooking

C) Have sufficient storage areas

D) Be comfortable and engaging area to entertain

So with all of that in mind, how do you ensure that the new kitchen area fulfils all of your particular requirements whilst offering a stunning and sumptuous location for all the family.

Easy, by following these 4 guidelines

1) Ensure you have sufficient storage space

You would be surprised how many people design their own kitchens and base it purely on the aesthetic appeal rather than practicality. Storage space is the single most important element, as without it, many of your usual kitchen elements such as utensils etc, will simply be on show, which does not provide the ideal look. When we say storage we mean not only kitchen utensils but also consumables and non consumables.

2) Create your space taking into account the relevant activity of each area

This is a simple premise which just means, divide the room up into specific activity zones. For instance, a food preparation area, a washing / cleanup area and a cooking area, as well as a dining area. Each of these should be designed with the overall design in mind. Also remember to factor in the work triangle, for enhanced efficiency.

3) Don’t have doors on base units

Although it may seem strange, it actually creates a great deal more storage space by simple efficient use of available space. Instead of doors have pull out draws and sections. Not only does it make better use of space, it also means you will not have to bend down and look into the back of the cupboard to find that elusive item. With pull out draws everything is available in front of you and easily accessed.

4) Create space

If you have a small kitchen, then If possible extend the kitchen either by combining a utility room or dining room or by building an extension. The kitchen is often one of the biggest selling points of a property and as such by creating a suitably large kitchen and dining area, you will be creating a space that will appeal to many. If that is not possible, then utilise the full height of the kitchen to create storage around the edge. Many people make the mistake of leaving 6-8 inches of potential usable space at the top of their units. Use this space and it will provide valuable storage space.

Cleaning stainless steel in a kitchen

In many kitchens, stainless steel plays an important role. Whether as a design feature or focal point of the overall aesthetic appeal or simply as part of the utensils used in the preparation and cooking of the food such as the sink.

However as those who have had or currently do have stainless steel in their kitchen, in some shape or form will know, if not properly maintained, then it can look tarnished and dirty, which can have a detrimental effect on the overall appeal of your kitchen.

Although stainless steel is a resilient material, it does have a tendency to tarnish, which can be caused by a variety of factors. So how do you keep stainless steel, shiny and vibrant looking, simply and effectively.

General tips

 

1) Try whenever possible to use natural alternatives rather than harsh abrasives or chemical / bleach based cleaners.

Many shop bought cleaners tend to use chemicals and elements such as Bleach as a means of cleaning, however these do have a tendency to create more problems when using on stainless steel. Also, some cleaners work by introducing abrasives into the solution that can then cause scratches. Natural acidic solutions that include citric based elements such as lemon

2) Always wipe with the grain.

A common cause of issues with the appearance of stainless steel is that many people use circular motions when cleaning their stainless steel, however this actually creates swirl marks which over time will appear more and more pronounced. The ideal way to wipe is to go with the grain, which then helps to maintain a brushed look.

3) Regular maintenance will pay dividends in the long run

Keeping your stainless steel clean with a regular cleaning schedule will help to manage any issues. Regular wiping of light marks with a little vinegar or lemon juice, both of which are acidic in nature. Simply add to a cloth, lightly cover the stainless and leave for a minute or two, then wipe off the surface.

4) For light marks, just use hot water and a cloth.

Light marks rarely require any form of strong cleaner, in most cases hot water and a cloth will suffice. If there are some light stains that are a little stubborn to remove then just add a small amount of washing up liquid

 

By following these simple tips, your stainless steel elements of your kitchen will be kept in pristine condition.

Colour Schemes For Kitchens

When choosing a colour scheme for any room, especially a kitchen, it pays to consider the required ambience and desired feel of the room in question. Recent combinations of colours, in terms of kitchen units, offer a huge variety of colour options. From stark bold colours such as bright reds in a high-gloss finish through to the traditional white slab style gloss kitchen units, there is a choice of options that satisfies all requirements and desires.

 

What colours work best

An interesting question and one which brings up a variety of different answers depending upon the individuals concerned. There are those that feel that strong vibrant colours of the order of the day and that all of the relevant walls and units should be in these type of colours, whilst there are those that feel a mixture of both strong and vibrant colours should be interspersed with pastel shades which are lighter and therefore less contrasting.

As with any form of colour schemes for kitchens, the key is to ascertain your own individual style. Complimentary colours of colours which are considered to be the most effective in terms of creating a sample ambience.

 

Popular colour schemes

As with all trends the fact is that peoples choices vary dependent upon the colour schemes of the year. Although some retain their appeal, the fact is that in the last couple of years, pale greens and greys have been favoured for the walls, by some whilst mustard and grey is also a popular choice.

 

How do I find the perfect colour scheme for my kitchen

Initially break it down into smaller decisions, what we mean is decide on which primary colours are you favourite. This may well be blue or yellow, whatever colours you choose then go online and get a colour wheel. A colour wheel is a useful facet that will let you know which colours are complimentary or contrasting. Colour wheels are based on the three primary colours of Red, Yellow and Blue. From these all colours can be developed in terms of secondary colours such as orange, green and purple whilst the final stage is tertiary colours such as red-purple, yellow-orange, which are colours formed by mixing a primary and secondary colour.

 

The aim in all of this is to achieve what is termed colour harmony. In essence it is the balance of colour which compliment each other to give a pleasing visual experience.

 

One option is to purchase testers of the colours you are considering, try them on your walls in conjunction with other options. Ask friends and family if unsure. Alternatively take a photo of your kitchen from various angles and use photo editing software to change the colour scheme.

Kitchen Renovation Ideas

The kitchen is the hub of any house and in terms of locations where people congregate it’s the first place people go to. That is why when it comes to any form of refurbishment or renovation, it is often the kitchen which gets looked at first.

So what can be done in terms of refurbishment of a kitchen

 

Replace the doors

Replacing the door fronts of the kitchen unit, is one of the most often utilised means of refurbishment. In terms of kitchen renovation ideas, completely changing the door fronts can have a significant impact on the style of a kitchen. The key benefit of this particular option is the fact that by utilising the existing carcasses, most of which are standard sizes, enables the individual to choose a completely different style and colour, thereby completely changing the whole look of the kitchen.

 

Change the layout of the units

Dependent upon the size of the room, another option is to change the layout of the kitchen itself. Although there are certain points in which utilities are placed, it is often simple enough to move or relocate access point for utilities either yourself by adding extensions or utilising a relevant tradesman. The key element to remember when changing the layout is to utilise the triangle method of working, which must include a workspace for preparation, washing facilities and cooking facilities all within a reasonable distance from each other.

Introduce a breakfast bar or island

A popular choice in recent years has been to include a breakfast bar or island. A breakfast bar usually truths from the side wall of the kitchen, and can incorporate a variety of stools around the breakfast bar, enabling a number of individuals the opportunity to sit and eat from the bar itself. An alternative option, as upon the size and space available within the kitchen is an island. Obviously placing an island in the centre of the kitchen restricts the overall size and movement capability, however one can also be utilised how is a wide variety of kitchen units and work surfaces as well as a combined eating area.

 

Change the colour scheme

The colour scheme of the kitchen dictates the mood or ambience of the room. Recent trends of four bright colours intermixed with pastel shades, which soften the overall effect. For example bright red or lime green kitchen units, interspersed with pale pastel coloured tiling, surrounding the kitchen units are often unattractive option. When choosing a colour scheme, ensure that the colours chosen complimentary, and not contrasting, them after all the aim is to create a relaxing and enjoyable space for the family to enjoy.