Kitchen sinks buying guide

Your kitchen sink is undoubtedly something you’ll use every day, therefore it’s a detail you want to get right. There’s more to it than choosing a design style, you also need to think about what material your kitchen sink will be made from – you’ll be living with your decision for years.

Stainless steel sinks are easy to clean, don’t chip or crack and look great for years if properly cared for. All you need to remember is not to let sharp objects scrape the inside of the bowl.

It’s the real quartz added during manufacture that gives composite sinks their incredible strength and durability. They withstand very high temperatures – and are almost impossible to scratch

Handcrafted and baked in fireclay, ceramic sinks are silky to the touch and wipe down easily after use without staining. You just need to take care when placing heavier objects on them.

The surround is made from stunning toughened glass, while the bowl is an inset of stainless steel – combining beauty and practicality, and giving you something different from the norm.

 

If your kitchen sink needs are simple, a single bowl is the way to go. The type with a draining board attached is suitable for surface mounting only.

An extra half sink beside your main bowl is very practical – for washing vegetable, rinsing dishes or adapted to cope with waste disposal. Again, the product type shown here can only be surface mounted.

Compatible with all worktops except laminate (you can’t adequately seal the worktop’s cut edges), the Belfast – or Butler – sink has become increasingly popular in all styles of kitchen

Fridges and freezers buying guide

A fridge and freezer (or fridge-freezer combination) is a kitchen essential and there are more styles and sizes to choose from than ever before. It’s important to get the appliances that best suit how you and your family live.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing your fridge, freezer or combined fridge-freezer. Start with the space available in your kitchen, pantry or storeroom. That’ll give you the width (remember, for example, that American style fridge-freezers need a lot more room) and the maximum height you can accommodate comfortably.

How big is ‘big enough’?

A large fridge means fewer trips to the supermarket, but more waste if you fill it then don’t eat fresh. A small freezer is great for ice and a few occasional bits and pieces, but where do you store all those tasty leftovers or that big batch of your famous chilli?

Next, think about capacity. If you’re going for under-counter units, your fridge and freezer will be roughly the same height, but may well differ in terms of how much food each can hold. Whereas if you’re going for a combined fridge-freezer, you need to decide how big each compartment needs to be to meet your needs. This diagram shows you the typical space arrangements for fridge-freezers:

Don’t forget the doors

One last detail to get right: which way should the doors to open? Most fridges, freezers and combi fridge-freezers can be made to open either on the right or left-hand sides. But some styles can’t, and have to be ordered with the doors fixed on one side or the other. You don’t want to get this wrong.

Styles of fridge, freezer and combined fridge-freezer

Here’s an idea of how the various styles of fridge, freezer and combi fridge-freezer compare:

Freestanding under-counter

  • Fit easily under worktops
  • Cheaper than the integrated style
  • Available as fridges or freezers
  • Some fridges have iceboxes at the top

Integrated under-counter

  • Fit easily under worktops
  • Concealed from view by a cabinet door
  • Available as fridges or freezers
  • Some fridges have iceboxes at the top
  • Cost more than the freestanding style

Freestanding fridge-freezer

  • Most popular type on the market
  • Available in a range of compartment ratios
  • Freezers can be at the top in some models
  • Cheaper than the integrated style

Integrated fridge-freezer

  • Concealed from view by cabinet doors
  • Gives your kitchen a clean, uncluttered look
  • Available in a range of compartment ratios

American style

  • Much wider than standard UK freestanding models
  • Conveniently positions the freezer beside the fridge
  • Very generous storage capacity
  • Often has built-in ice maker and/or water dispenser

Retro style

  • Design/fashion inspired
  • Gives your kitchen a trendy, mid-century look
  • Freezers can be at the top in some models
  • Must be ordered with doors opening on the desired side

Ghosts of kitchens past

Old.,...old kitchen

We now spend more waking hours in our kitchens than any other room. The average kitchen has almost doubled in size since the 1920s, making it the biggest room in the house.

A century ago homes were built with a tiny scullery, averaging 65sq ft but they have now ballooned to 121sq ft, according to research experts Magnet, who have tracked the growth of kitchens over the decades.

image
Today’s kitchens are the hub of family life and serve as a meeting room, dining room, study and social room as well as the centre of food preparation.

Most families spend more relaxation time in the kitchen (2 hours) than we do in the lounge (1.5 hours).

Most modern kitchens have a flat-screen TV, large dining table and chairs, CD/MP3 player and DAB radio as well as all the usual kitchen fixtures like oven and hob, microwave, toaster, storage cupboards, sink and kettle.

We also spend more money on decorating our kitchen than any other room in the home, according to the Magnet study – an average of £19,000 including appliances and furniture, compared to £6,000 on our lounge.


The advent of the typical British three-bed-semi in the 1930s saw the kitchen increase in size to an average of 78 sq ft, allowing for more room in the, then, bigger sized family home.

image 1930 ktichen

That size remained pretty constant through the 1940s and 1950s but increased again in the Swinging 1960s when the average British kitchen increased to 95 sq ft.

image 1940-1960 kitchen

But it was the 1980s that the early signs of the kitchen becoming more than a cooking room first started to show.

image 1980 kitchen

Kitchens became feature rooms – measuring from 109 sq ft to a, then, whopping 121 sq ft – and we replaced our tiny upright combi-ovens with super-sized range cookers, expensive tiled floors, American-style fridge-freezers and, for the first time, microwave ovens.

And that growth has continued ever since with today’s kitchens bigger and more grand than ever.

 

 

lenetteh, | Posted in Kitchens 0

Cooker hoods buying guide

You probably don’t give your cooker hood all that much thought, but if it wasn’t there, you’d be scrubbing away at ceilings and splashbacks regularly as grease from cooking builds up fast and is tough to shift. So if you’re redesigning your kitchen, replacing a hood that’s seen better days or installing one for the first time, make sure you get the right kind for your kitchen

Fully integrated cooker hood

Fitted snugly above the hob and hidden by a door or panel, this type of hood usually only works once you pull it open. Almost all such hoods are around 60cm wide, and they can be either extracting or recirculating (see ‘Venting Types’)

Canopy cooker hood

These are typically fitted to the underside of a kitchen cabinet, but unlike fully integrated hoods, remain on show all the time. Once again, they come as extracting or recirculating (see ‘Venting Types’)

Island cooker hood

Got your cooker in the middle of your kitchen (or planning to have one there)? Island cooker hoods suspend from the ceiling, leaving you free to put your cooker almost anywhere you want to.

Chimney cooker hood

Don’t go confusing this with an island cooker hood – it definitely has to be wall mounted. It’s an extremely popular style, and comes in a range of looks besides the typical pyramid shape:

  • Curved glass – a sheet of glass curves over the filter area, making it easier to clean than a metal surface
  • Flat glass – just like the curved glass idea, but without the curve
  • Designer box – a little more chic than your standard pyramid shape, and finished in metal
  • Designer – can be anything from angled metal or glass to coloured materials

There’s an important choice you need to make when buying a cooker hood, and that’s how grease and steam will be dealt with. Here’s a guide to the differences between recirculation and extraction.

Recirculation

Air is drawn into the hood through filters that neutralise odours and remove grease particles. Once the hood has cleaned the air, it recirculates it into the kitchen. It’s vital to have a carbon filter pad or recirculating kit for this type of hood. To clean the hood, you simply clear out its grease trap, wash the metal filters and replace the carbon filter pad as necessary.

Why choose this?

Recirculation can be used in all types of kitchen and is particularly useful if there’s no access to an outside wall for extraction (see below). While the installation costs are low, you’ll still need to spend money replacing carbon filter pads. You also won’t remove any excess moisture from your kitchen.

Extraction

Extraction hoods filter grease into a trap and expel the filtered air through an outside vent. All you have to do is clean the metal grease trap from time to time (most are dishwasher safe).

Why choose this?

Extraction is highly effective at removing not only grease but also odours and excess moisture from your kitchen. It does, however, need an available outside wall to vent through, making it unsuitable for certain types of kitchen layout.

Dishwasher buying guide

Why buy a dishwasher?

Did you know that you can save time and reduce your utility bills by using an efficient, moderndishwasher, instead of washing by hand? Experts have compared dishwashers and washing up based on their use of time, water and energy.

According to studies, it can take up to 9 minutes to load a dishwasher with dirty plates and unload a dishwasher when everything is clean. This compares to up to a full hour to wash the same load by hand. This means switching to a dishwasher could give you back up to a week of your time every year.

Typically, most dishwashers use 12 Litres of water to wash a full family load of plates and dishes. Some, like Beko’s QDW696, use only 6 litres of water. The same load could use up to 49 litres of water when washing by hand and a lot of power to heat. A dishwasher uses exactly the right amount of water and heat to make your dishes sparklingly clean.

What do the energy ratings mean?

All dishwashers will have an energy label and this provides a good indication of how much energy and water it will use.

All dishwashers are graded A+++ to D for energy efficiency, with A+++ being the most efficient and cheapest to run. The energy ratings are determined by testing the energy consumed washing a collection of soiled tableware and dishes using the standard cycle recommended by the manufacturer.

The better the energy efficiency the more money you save on your utility bills

Many of us love the streamlined look. An integrated dishwasher, concealed by a cupboard door, fits the bill.

The main reason people choose a built in dishwasher is that they prefer the sleek, streamlined look. Because it’s hidden behind a cupboard door, it blends in well with the kitchen’s overall appearance.

It’s a popular choice if you’re planning to renovate your whole kitchen, and can choose your new look from scratch. But of course an integrated dishwasher can still fit in with your current design if you’re not going for a complete overhaul.

What’s different about an integrated dishwasher?

They’re slightly smaller than free-standing dishwashers – typically 55cm deep and 80–82cm high – to allow for the concealing cupboard front, and the starting prices are a little higher.

Most integrated dishwashers come with a timer function, inbuilt noise reduction systems, and score the maximum energy efficiency rating.

Choose an Integrated dishwasher if:

  • You’re renovating your kitchen
  • You want to make best use of limited space
  • You prefer a streamlined look, with appliances behind cupboard doors
  • Fullsize Dishwashers

    Full sized dishwashers can handle up to 13 place settings of dishes, glasses and cutlery in one wash. Choose from a range of energy efficient dishwashers, such as a Beko EcoSmart Dishwasher, and dishwashers with quick wash and half load programmes, saving you time and money.

    Go for a full-size, 60cm-wide dishwasher if:

    • Your family is medium-sized or large: a full-size dishwasher washes 12–14 place settings
    • You cook most meals from scratch
    • Slimline Dishwashers

      With a width of just 45cm, slimline dishwashers range can handle up to 10 place settings while fitting snugly into any sized kitchen. Perfect for city-sized apartments or small country dwellings, the Beko slimline dishwashers have a quick clean programme and are energy efficient with a half load setting.

      Choose a 45cm-wide slimline dishwasher if:

      • You don’t have much spare cupboard space in your kitchen
      • There are only two or three people in your household
      • You don’t have enough dishes to fill a full-size dishwasher (a slimline model can hold 8–10 place settings)
      • Getting the most out of your dishwasher

        To get the most out of your Dishwasher you should choose a good dishwashing powder. There is great range of products which can not only clean your plates and dishes but keep their sparkling shine for longer and are protected wash after wash.

        Stacking order

        Generally larger and dirtier items are best on the bottom rack, cups, glasses and less soiled items should be put on the top rack.

        Get rid of excess food

        Always scrape off excess food before loading, and use the pre-wash programme on heavily soiled items.

        Small loads

        When you only have a small load to wash, it’s best to use a half load programme. This will cut down on water usage and also means you don’t have to wait days for the dishwasher to be full.

        Cutlery

        With cutlery, make sure to avoid nesting so that water can rinse over all surfaces. Have some standing upright and some facing downwards. Since safety comes first, long or sharp knives should face downwards.

        Tough stains

        To clean heavily soiled items like pots, pans and cookware, wash them in an intensive cycle with a higher temperature to get rid of tough stains.

        Look after your glasses

        To help prevent glass erosion, only clean your glasses at low wash temperatures. Check the dishwasher manual to find out more about the glass or gentle programs.Look after your glasses To help prevent glass erosion, only clean your glasses at low wash temperatures. Check the dishwasher manual to find out more about the glass or gentle programs.

      • Understanding your dishwasher

        Besides sparing you from scrubbing madly at pots and pans while sweating over a sink of hot soapy water, most dishwashers offer a range of benefits through a series of programmes (like those on a washing machine).

        Here are some typical examples of the dish wahser modes:

        Normal mode

        Think of this as a dishwasher’s default mode – basic dishwashing at around 65 degrees, guaranteeing a thorough clean.

        Eco (or Energy Saving) mode

        This programme generally uses less water at lower temperatures. Good news for the environment – and your utility bills over the course of a year.

        Intensive mode

        Some dirt and grease on pots and pans can be incredibly stubborn – no matter how much you rinse before dishwashing. This programme usually takes care of the most awkward grime (though it will use more energy and water than Normal mode).

        Delicate mode

        Ideal if you’ve had the Queen round for afternoon tea and can’t face washing up your finest bone china by hand. This programme’s also gentle on your precious glassware.

        Half load mode

        Often, this programme only saves around 10%-25% of water – so it’s usually best to wait till you have a full load. It’s sometimes called Fast mode, and is handy if you need items washed quickly.

        Auto mode

        Much as you’d expect, this programme does all the thinking for you. It works out how dirty the load is, what temperature is needed and how long to run for – so you can sit back and put your feet up.