The right ingredients for creating an open and functional space

Clean and crisp in classic white, this Appleby kitchen is lifted by an aqua splash-back. B&Q.

Kya deLongchamps gives ten tips to blending your kitchen and dining area in an aesthetic way, so that guests and family are not excluded from the action.

The close configuration of kitchen and dining space is something we Irish have embraced with a passion. Perhaps it channels something older and deeper when the fireside would have nestled alongside the farmhouse or cottage table in most homes in the country.

Throwing down the walls of the traditional kitchen allow not only an open, refreshing aesthetic, but the joys of socialising alongside the cook as they work —it just all makes such great sense.

If you have the chance to re-configure your space, or build anew, here are a few pointers to get the happy recipe of food preparation and dining right first time.

The right ingredients for creating an open and functional space

Golden triangle?

The golden triangle is derided by some kitchen designers as out of date, but what does remain, especially throwing a table into the mix, is a six-point plan.

How do you use your kitchen space by sheer habit? Include, within an uninterrupted stride or two of a central position, the fridge, larder, chopping area, the sink, the oven and dishwasher.

If you have to take a wander to any of these key services or have to circumnavigate a dining table, the ergonomics are off.

Make me an island

An island or peninsula with seating or a table on the far side allows you to monitor homework and hand dishes safely from your central, traffic-free position to the wee helpers. Keep safety in mind.

Rounded corners to counters and cabinets will save a lot of pokes and bruising. Induction hobs do not get as hot as a standard electric ring if you share even a large island surface with the kids.

A sink is ultimately a safer inclusion, but will put the-after dinner mess on show without a change in counter height to hide dishes away

Right man — right job

Fitted kitchens have never been such good value. The luxuries of soft closing mechanisms, deeper drawers, internal tailoring and more can be secured on a budget of just a few thousand.

The crucial spend beyond sturdy cabinetry and quality doors, is on the individual who actually fits that fitted kitchen.

Well installed with everything straight, tight together, all moving parts opening smoothly and evenly — even a cheaper set of units can look and perform like far more money.

Ask your supplier for names of recommended individuals whose work they are happy to stand over.

Layering heights and lights

Sophistication doesn’t have to cost the earth. If you want a floating look for standard cabinetry, set the legs and skirting as far back as possible while still supporting the unit — creating different levels on an island to increase the sense of separation between one area of the room and the other.

It also suggests different volumes rather than one lumpy monolith in the centre of the room — and simply looks better.

Using a fully developed plan, lighting can be layered across your surfaces creating texture, focus and of course task illumination.


If you take down a wall, keep in mind, that’s a wall not present to support cabinetry. Could an island detailed in floor cabinets take the short-fall?

Make a double sided peninsula (still attached to a wall) or full island work even harder, to support the extra spend, with more practical detailing designed into the carcass. Together with cabinetry add sockets for small appliances, including your lap-top on the eating/working side beneath the counter.

The right ingredients for creating an open and functional space

Secret seating

Tuck seating away beneath an over-hanging breakfast bar terraced by cabinets on each side for dishes or snacks. Where space is tight, just overhanging one short end with a counter by 60cms is enough room for a coffee or a lap-top and a secreted stool.

Less is more

If a reasonably sized room won’t accommodate your kitchen units plus a table or bar of any kind —is it simply overloaded?

Could your white goods and even one or two units be moved out to an adjoining utility area (I adore the old back kitchen idea —it hides the dark underbelly of everyday life in an open plan kitchen/diner and even living area beautifully).

Set out the dining area

The dining area, especially if it’s your only dining area, must have its presence. The first key ingredient is natural light where possible, so a window makes an ideal focal point to anchor that area of the room.

Lowering a central pendant or bar mounted set of lights down over the table will again, distinguish the area.

The kitchen cannot always accommodate a full dining table or even a bar. Using pocket doors or sliding doors in place of a blank wall you can keep a small kitchen separated from the dining area, and still have the tah-dah moment for dinner-parties where you want to

n Don’t shoot me- but Barrell & Gunn the Dublin industrial style furniture makers featured on these pages last week, enjoy an unusual spelling to their website and company name. 


The right ingredients for creating an open and functional space

Gas or electric?

We tend to be influenced by what we have used in the past, but electric/gas stoves and ovens have their own characteristics and cooking styles. It is possible to marry the strengths of both types with, for example, a gas ring and an electric oven, but if you have to choose, consider:

Gas Pros & Cons

* Natural gas followed by LPG (bottled or bulk tank) provides the cheapest form of cooking fuel.

* Gas is not prey to power outages. If you livein the country, a gas camping ring is often an essential comfort in the darker months.

* Instant heat, even distribution and superb control on the stove top makes gas the choice of most chefs.

* Gas ovens do not generally heat as evenly as an electric fan assisted model and will be hotter at the top.

* Using bottled LPG, you need to be aware of the state of your supply.

Electricity Pros & Cons

* Fans will spread heat right around the cavity of an electric oven, and many electric ovens feature top and bottom heat control for a variety of dishes

* Induction rings are far safer than conventional electric rings and gas flames, as they rely on the contact between an iron pan bottom and the surface to draw their maximum heat. They are however, a more expensive choice.

* Glass hobs are blessedly easy to clean.

* Matching pan size to the ring size is crucial to get pans going and to save on electricity which remains a relatively expensive form of cooking energy.

Safety First:

Be aware of distances on multi-function islands to ensure safety with stove tops leaving 300mm of landing space on either side to start. Always use a Registered Gas

Installer ( ) and/or RECI ( ) electrician in the commissioning of your electric, gas or combination cooker.


Much has been said about the perils of being stuck in the house 24/7, like family pets interrupting your important conference calls, your partner leaving their dirty dishes everywhere and the lack of respite from the kids.Silver lining: Seven enforced money-saving habits you might want to continue after lockdown

Put you and your loved ones' pop-culture knowledge to the test with Arts Editor Des O'Driscoll's three fiendishly fun quiz rounds.Scene and Heard: the Arts Ed's family entertainment quiz

A passion for heritage and the discovery of some nifty new software has resulted in an Irish architect putting colour on thousands of old photographs, writes Marjorie BrennanBringing the past to life

Richard Hogan, family psychotherapist, addresses a reader's question about life during lockdownHolding on: how to help your child through the crisis

More From The Irish Examiner