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The luxury kitchen
At the top of the market, the kitchen becomes a status symbol which can cost anything, equipped perhaps with a range cooker, larger and more expensive than a Mercedes-Benz SLK car.
This type of kitchen may have vast refrigerators and ice machines from the USA, fan refrigerators which are better at circulating air, wine coolers, and even a separate cold room reminiscent of the north-facing larders of old country houses. This phenomenon has largely been inspired by celebrity TV chefs who have renewed an interest in cooking from good raw materials. The rich, who like to cook, want a great room to do it in which will not only look good, but be a show place for the latest gadgets such as steam ovens, cappuccino machines, glass-covered plasma screen televisions and stainless steel-lined copper pans. These will be set in a decor of hardwearing, expensive finishes such as limestone floors and oak cabinets and granite or composite stone worktops.
There, more than ever, the kitchen is truly the heart of the home, and is where the party not only starts but continues.
Kitchens for flats
Kitchens in flats differ from kitchens in houses in that they may not be on the ground floor. Waste disposal should be made easy, possibly with refuse chutes.
Care should be taken to provide good sound insulation, particularly if they are positioned next to bedrooms (including neighbours) as machines can vibrate and be noisy. If the kitchen is to be installed in an old building with suspended timber floors, then provision must be taken to waterproof the floor against accidental leaks from appliances.
Inevitably, flat kitchens may have to accommodate laundry machines as space may be limited elsewhere but, if at all possible, try to locate these machines in or near the bathroom or bedrooms. Where a condensing dryer is installed in a kitchen, then an additional extractor fan over the dryer may be needed to deal with the resulting condensation.
Small, low-cost kitchens
Where space is at a premium, the choice of appliances must be considered first. A hob with a single oven built in underneath the counter will take up less room than a double oven built into a tall cabinet with a separate hob. Fridge/freezers come in many combinations so that the ratio of refrigerator to freezer can be to choice possibly with a freezer situated elsewhere.
For the really small kitchen, the narrow under-counter refrigerator with integral icebox is one choice and, for the bedsitting room there are mini iceboxes which can sit on the counter, large enough to contain a little milk, butter and cheese.
Busy people may not want an oven at all, and will be satisfied with a versatile combination microwave, perhaps augmented by an electric frying pan, jug kettle and toaster. The disadvantage of such a solution is that it may devalue the property for future owners.
Avoid sinks without drainers. Even the smallest draining area will help to contain water puddles on the worktop. Wall-hung wire plate racks, fixed above the sink or drainer, can increase the draining area without extending the worktop. Where there is space for a dishwasher, narrow models are available