7 expert kitchen design tips to make cooking a delight

“WE SPEND SO much time in the kitchen,” says kitchen designer Marie Browne. “But we don’t ask ourselves, how are we using this space? How could we be using it better?”

For most households in Ireland, the kitchen is where life happens. Not just cooking, but everything from the morning scramble to afternoon schoolwork; from lazy lunches to late-night conversations. 

We asked Marie – a designer with Cash & Carry Kitchens – for her tips on designing a kitchen that makes life easier, not harder. Say goodbye to cluttered worktops and make awkward storage a thing of the past with her expert advice. 

1. First, make your ‘must-have’ list of appliances

The first step, says Marie, is to look at the things that you really need. “That’s where the design process really starts,” she says. And it’s crucial to be realistic. “If you’re a family of four, you don’t want an under-the-counter refrigerator. You need a tall larder fridge, or there’s just not going to be enough space.” 

A good starting point, says Marie, is to look at your daily routine. “Are you only using the kitchen for breakfast and a pizza when you get home? Then you can say, one single oven. But the family that is constantly entertaining, or is multigenerational with parents and adult children also in the house – then you probably need two ovens. And maybe also select a combination microwave oven as a third.”

If you do this, rather than just including the ‘standard’ appliances, you’ll avoid missing any essentials – or overspending on appliances you don’t really need.

2. Then, imagine yourself in your new kitchen

To begin orienting the room, and to ensure that it reflects your needs, Marie suggests visualising yourself in it. “I would be saying, you’re standing at the

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8 expert answers to bathroom renovation FAQs

a room with a sink and a mirror: Freestanding baths require extra cleaning but they make a bathroom look larger so it might be worth the effort. Photo: Nicole England.

© Nicole England

Freestanding baths require extra cleaning but they make a bathroom look larger so it might be worth the effort. Photo: Nicole England.

1. Cleaning the bathroom is my least favourite chore. How can I keep it to the absolute minimum?

Large-format tiles mean fewer grout lines and less scrubbing. And floating vanities are easy to clean around. Built-in baths require less cleaning than freestanding baths, but a freestanding bath makes the room look bigger so maybe it’s worth the extra cleaning!

Sam Habib, manager, Domayne Bathrooms.

2. How do I find the right showerhead for me, one that feels good to use?

Every showerhead harnesses water differently. If you want a great-feeling shower, your selection should be based primarily on the coverage and spray force the showerhead can provide.

Some conventional showers have limited functionality and can deliver a needle-like experience. Our showers have been carefully engineered to give you a more balanced coverage and spray force.

Laura Keogh, head of marketing, Methven Australia.

a close up of a shower: Photo: Shannon McGrath

© Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd
Photo: Shannon McGrath

3. We’d like our bathroom to serve us into our old age. What should we consider?

Thinking ahead, it’s a good idea to design your bathroom to have a wide door opening and an open shower recess.

There’s no need to put in grab rails now if you don’t want to, but it is smart to put some extra supports within the wall to accommodate these later.

Lee Hardcastle, bathroom designer, Enigma Interiors.

4. How can I improve a perfectly functional but dated bathroom on a budget of less than $5000?

A new vanity, mirror, taps and light fittings can make a world of difference if you’re after a cost-effective bathroom refresh. Spend the most on the elements that you most dislike.


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an expert guide to creating your dream space

a large white tub next to a sink: null

© Provided by Real Homes

If you are trying to find a place to start with your bathroom design, might we suggest right here? We get that designing a bathroom isn’t the easiest of tasks so we talk you through all you need to know, from the very very early planning stage to the (admittedly more exciting) decorating stage.

Whether you’re looking to overhaul your current setup, or simply looking to update a few existing elements in your space, knowing the basics so that you can get it right the first time is a must. So keep scrolling for everything you need to know, and be sure to visit our (truly fabulous) roundup of bathroom ideas when you’re in need of looks to copy and endless inspiration.

How much does a new bathroom cost?

Budget from around £4,000 for a bath, basin and loo combination, and around £4,500 for a shower and enclosure, basin and loo. Bear in mind that prices will vary enormously between standard ranges and designer fittings. 

For a more detailed breakdown and for how to budget for your bathroom design, read our article on how much does a new bathroom cost.

Why a bathroom design needs careful planning

When you start to look at how to design a bathroom, planning is key. A bathroom is a practical space that’s used frequently. Family bathrooms have multiple users, of course, sometimes at the same time, while en suite bathrooms or wet rooms will see daily use from a couple or solo occupant. As well as coping with the traffic of all the users, a bathroom has to stay hygienic plus deal with splashes and humidity without becoming slippery underfoot or looking worn.  

And while it used to be thought of as a functional space only, these days,

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Expect your home remodeling to ‘cost 50% more and take 50% longer,’ says finance expert

So you’re thinking about doing a major home renovation. You’ve been stuck indoors since the pandemic — and you plan to be for a while longer. So why not put some money into making it look nicer?

If you’ve never remodeled your home before, getting through the process can be a complete nightmare. I’ve been through four projects, and none of them were pleasant. But, after the first two, I finally wisened up to the game that some general contractors play to extract as much money from homeowners as possible.

Here’s what I learned from all my painful, exhausting and costly experiences:

1. It will cost more than expected.

Competition is fierce, so a contractor might initially offer an attractive price just to beat out all the other bids. Their goal is to get you to sign the contract. Once you’re locked in, they can upsell you with add-ons.

If you’re already $100,000 deep and three months into bathroom and kitchen work, you probably won’t balk at a $3,000 recessed lighting project. And since the walls are now open, what’s another $2,000 for an electric car charger?

To protect your mental health, expect everything to cost 50% more and take 50% longer.

Also, as your contractor gets further into the project, he or she might point out “unforeseen” problems that require more work. The additional fees may be legit, but some unscrupulous contractors will often find excuses to jack up the price.

Don’t rush into anything. Do your research, get multiple bids, and be willing to walk away. Be as detailed as possible when drawing up the contract regarding costs, time, materials and work.

2. It will take longer than expected.

Two classic lines you may hear from your contractor if they’re lagging on time: “This project is costing me

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