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The Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Renovation: Layouts, Materials, and More

Your go-to guide for everything kitchen-related.

With the amount of activity the kitchen sees, it’s no wonder that homeowners are forking out extra cash to create a space that isn’t just aesthetically-pleasing, but also durable and functional.

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Of course, there’s a bunch of things to think about, and it can get overwhelming. So, let us take some weight off your shoulders with this comprehensive list of everything you need to know about designing a kitchen!

Contents
  1. Open vs closed concept kitchen
  2. Types of kitchen layouts
  3. Kitchen islands, peninsulas and bars
  4. Factoring in your lifestyle/cooking workflow
  5. Kitchen countertop height
  6. Kitchen cabinets vs drawers
  7. Other nifty storage solutions
  8. Kitchen countertop materials
  9. Kitchen cabinet material choices
  10. Kitchen backsplash
  11. Essential appliances and fittings

The layout of your kitchen

Think of your kitchen layout as the foundation of the space. A layout that suits your cooking workflow will make your life so much easier, while an inefficient one will leave you scrambling around just to find what you need.

Open vs closed concept kitchen

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An open vs closed-concept kitchen

While kitchen layouts have a few variations, first deciding the kitchen concept type is much simpler. You’ll just have to choose between an open or closed concept kitchen layout depending on your requirements: for instance, a closed kitchen if you do a lot of heavy cooking, or an open kitchen to keep an eye on your kids in the living room while you’re preparing meals.

These days, most new BTO flats come without a kitchen wall – so if you’re a fan of open spaces, you’ll no longer need to pay your ID to tear it down.

For those of you who love hosting, you can even consider an open-concept kitchen and dining room ‘combo’ wherein the two are side by side.

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View this project by The Local Project

For the undecided folks, there’s an option for you, too! A semi-open kitchen gives you the best of both worlds, with clear, foldable partitions over a counter or a half wall that gives homeowners the option to open or close them when needed.

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It’s no wonder that a semi-open concept was the most popular kitchen type among homeowners we surveyed.

Types of kitchen layouts

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Singapore’s homeowners don’t always have the luxury of choosing any layout they fancy for their kitchen renovation – particularly in BTOs or smaller condo units where space is a constraint. Still, it pays to do some homework before talking to a designer.

Typically, U-shaped layouts are out of the picture unless you either a) live in a huge home, or b) are willing to do extensive renovation works. If not, simple but functional layouts like a galley, one-wall, and L-shaped styles are more than enough.

Here are some reading materials to help you pick the best kitchen design:

Kitchen extensions

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Houses in Singapore may be small, but there are layout changes that can help to create the space you need. With the additional space, you can now include extensions like a kitchen island, peninsula, or even a bar!

Explore: 11 Fab and Functional Kitchen Island Ideas For Your New Home

And even if you’re starved for space, there are still ways of squeezing in a kitchen island in a small home.

Workflow and lifestyle needs

It may seem trivial, but your lifestyle needs are especially important for kitchen planning as this will dictate your workflow and other things you need.

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For instance, heavy cookers may want to get a U-shaped layout for that sought-after ‘work triangle’ for efficient cooking. People who frequently host gatherings and avid bakers may also benefit from this kitchen layout (especially if there’s a kitchen island in the middle), since it provides plenty of space to whip up a storm and entertain guests.

Casual cooks, on the other hand, may not necessarily need a fully-equipped kitchen, meaning that a simple single wall layout is more than enough to accommodate this fuss-free lifestyle.

P.S.: If you’re curious, you can find the best kitchen layout based on your lifestyle here!

Kitchen countertop height

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Most of the time, an ID will build your kitchen countertops at a height of 90cm, but surprisingly, this isn't recommended for all.

If you're on the taller or shorter side (or if you're a wheelchair user), this height is going to be a pain in the joints – one of the common kitchen renovation regrets homeowners have.

Depending on what you'll be doing, the countertop surface should be anywhere between 8-21 cm below the elbow.

It would be best to cater to the height of the person who cooks the most in the household, though you should make the final decision after discussing with your ID.

The storage/organisation solution for your kitchen

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Renovations can be a technical process, and we’d understand if you’re leaning on your designer to decide things for you. But when it comes to your kitchen storage, it’s better to be more involved, since you’re the one who knows what you’ll be storing and how frequently you’ll need to access each item.

Essentially, your kitchen storage solutions should complement how you move about in the kitchen.

For instance, you may want your frequently-used cookware near the stove, or the condiments stowed away to prevent clutter. Hashing this out with your ID will help the both of you figure out the kind of storage you need (see next point!).

Basic storage solutions: kitchen cabinets vs drawers

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View this project by WRX Interior

All too often, homeowners choose a particular kitchen storage type only to end up wishing they had gotten the other after a few months. To avoid this same plight, take a look at their pros and cons below to see which one suits you best:

Drawers:

ProsCons
  • Provides easier access to every item, especially those kept deep within
  • Easier to organise smaller items with trays, boxes, or custom compartments
  • Costlier (not to mention, troublesome) to repair
  • Pricier than cabinets
  • Requires additional width to cater for drawer tracks
  • Can be difficult to pull out if there are heavy items

Cabinets:

ProsCons
  • Provides easier access to items situated higher up
  • Easier to repair
  • More budget-friendly
  • Items situated further inside are harder to reach
  • More difficult to organise; may need additional organisational add-ons

Storage solutions for smaller items like condiments and snacks

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Additional storage space sure doesn’t hurt. Fortunately, there are dozens of creative solutions that will give you the ample storage you crave, all while helping you fully utilise every inch of your kitchen.

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Some of these solutions include corner racks, tiers within each drawer, and pull-out inserts, which you can pick up from kitchen specialist brands like Song Cho, Blum, or Hafele. But these are just some out of many solutions, as you’ll soon discover after reading these articles:

Mechanisms in kitchen fittings

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Image credit: BLUM

Mechanisms like hinges may seem too minute a detail to care about, but trust us – they really do contribute to an efficient kitchen! In general, brands like Blum and Hafele are highly raved among homeowners for their array of innovative, yet practical fittings, so you won’t go wrong with any of their products.

Alternatively, check out our brand directory, where there are tons of other brands (and even some sweet deals!) for your perusal.


The materials and fittings used in your kitchen

Kitchen countertop material choices

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Vigorous chopping, food spills, and scorching pots are just some of the things the kitchen countertop has to deal with, so it’s only fair for you to outfit it with the best material available to ensure it remains in tip-top condition.

In general, quartz is still the most popular countertop choice among homeowners, but the other options are still worth exploring. Popular choices today include sintered stone for their sophisticated look, as well as KompacPlus – a sleek, slim countertop with a sink cover that functions as an additional worktop space.

It’s going to be tough to pick one, but hopefully, your research will go a little easier once you’ve taken a look at this guide to picking the right kitchen countertop material.

Kitchen cabinet material choices

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Laminates are far and away the most popular material for kitchen cabinets (corroborated by your responses on our Telegram poll), and for good reason. They’re affordable, durable, and come in a myriad of designs that will fit into any home regardless of aesthetic choice.

Nonetheless, it wouldn’t hurt to read up on the other materials used. Stainless steel, for example, is antimicrobial and impervious to stains and liquids (a popular reason for commercial kitchens!), giving it an edge over laminates in terms of hygiene.

Read more about stainless steel kitchen cabinets here:

Kitchen backsplash

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More than just an aesthetic feature, the kitchen backsplash has a rather practical purpose – which is to prevent splashes of water and oil from dirtying the kitchen wall.

As such, it’s high time you find out more about them, the different types of materials available, and maintenance tips – all of which you can find in this comprehensive guide about kitchen backsplashes.

Essential appliances and fittings

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There’s a good number of things to get for the kitchen – like the fridge, hob, hood, dishwasher, oven, sink, sockets… the list goes on.

It’s best to start shopping early as these appliances measurements are typically accounted for in your kitchen carpentry. The last thing you want is your fancy (read: expensive) fridge to be too big for its designated space.

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Here are a few articles that you may find helpful for this stage of the renovation:

If you’d rather browse through different brands to see what they have to offer, head over to our brand directory to see what’s available!


A guide to designing your dream kitchen

If you're read all the way till the end, congrats! With these bits of information, you're one step closer to designing a kitchen that isn't just aesthetically-pleasing, but efficient as well.

The next step? Finding an interior designer that can turn everything you need into a fully-functional kitchen. Tell us your renovation requirements, and you’ll get personalised renovation quotes from interior design firms – completely free! Get started now by clicking the button below.

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This article was originally published on 14 April 2022 and last updated on 7 May 2024.


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