The way we celebrate Christmas is changing. With the pandemic leading to widespread travel restrictions and a burgeoning trend towards ‘staycations’, many of us are deciding to spend Christmas at home. In fact, last year over 76% Britons spent Christmas in their own home and with many re-evaluating their priorities during the pandemic, this trend looks set to continue.
Whether or not you are eager to spend the festive period with your nearest and dearest, many households end up feeling decidedly cramped during the celebrations. This is ever more noticeable with current trends such as the ‘boomerang generation’ and a move towards downsizing.
The importance of negative space in a kitchen
Christmas can be a stressful time and the added pressure of choosing which relatives to spend time with, or trying to squeeze extended family members into your home, can really put a dampener on the celebrations. At HOKO, we understand the impact of space on how you interact with your home so this year we’ve asked our top interior designers and Architects for some ideas that will help to create more space around your home:
Whilst houses come in all shapes and sizes, one key design feature is often overlooked; no matter how big or small, it’s vital that a house is designed with ‘negative space’ in mind.
What is ‘negative’ space?
We often focus on the interior design features that we can see, colours, furnishings, and lighting, however the ‘negative’ or ‘circulation space’ between these features is often just as important. Nothing highlights the importance of having rooms to move more than kitchen jam packed with extended family members all trying to reach for the snacks at the end of the countertop! This is where an experienced Architect or interior designer can step in and help you to get the most out of your living areas. In day-to-day life, circulation space ensures your home is designed practically so that you can truly enjoy your home, and when the mince pies are baking and the in-laws are over to stay it gives you the opportunity to move freely and really impress your guests.
How to create space for hosting
Focus on the Kitchen
Designing the perfect kitchen is all about balancing ease of use with having room to move. It’s important to have your appliances within easy reach, but also to ensure that there is sufficient room to move around without bumping into something or someone!
Incorporating a kitchen island into your home is a fantastic way to maximise the utility of your kitchen, however it can be tempting to go for the largest countertop that you can fit. Our interior designers know that it’s important for your design to leave room to move, especially if you will have two home chefs working together.
This makes the distance between your key countertop and island key, especially if your oven or dishwasher opens into the area! To increase room to move and decrease the likelihood of stubbed toes and banged shins, we recommend leaving a distance of 90 to 105 centimetres for a single kitchen, and for kitchens built with tandem cooking in mind a gap of up to 125 centimetres may be appropriate. Its also important to remember that a kitchen with deep drawers needs extra room so you can easily access your cooking implements without impinging on the room’s circulation space.
If your kitchen island incorporates a breakfast bar or dining area, it’s also important to leave sufficient room around the kitchen dining area which will help to create space for people to pass by even if the countertop is in use.
Develop your dining areas
Incorporating a dining area into your kitchen is becoming increasingly popular and it’s important to apply the same principles. Avoid the temptation to cram the largest possible table into a dining area! People often believe that this will maximise the number of guests that can be comfortably accommodated, but ultimately, if guests aren’t able to come and go from their seat it can result in a stressful experience. Furthermore, a cramped space can make your dining area harder to live with on an everyday basis. As a rule of thumb, a gap of 100 to 130 centimetres around your table is usually enough for day-to-day life but we recommend designing your dining area with at least 145 centimetres of space on the side which sees the most throughflow, as this will greatly reduce the likelihood of a worst-case-scenario collision as people try to squeeze past each other.
Tips for smaller dining rooms
If you’re working with a smaller area, the ‘busy’ side of the table will usually be closest to the door; using a round table can be a fantastic way to host the maximum number of guests whilst freeing up valuable circulation space around the corners of the table. An experienced interior designer can help to create a space that enables guests to comfortably move around your dining area, for example an offset table will open up area for less able guests and can even improve the aesthetic of the room when done correctly. Using strategic feature positioning and lighting techniques can help to free up negative space in your dining area whilst ensuring that your furnishing still appear to follow a centre line within the room.
How to renovate a kitchen to increase space
The location of your dining area is important, in particular, older buildings are often built with floorplans that aren’t optimized for modern living. Our Architects are experienced space creators that know how to take the best elements of an existing design and enhance it, they know how to develop your home for maximum impact. If you’re looking for inspiration, here’s a previous project in which we removed some structural walls in order to create a spacious kitchen extension. Even smaller internal modifications to existing partition walls can add incredible space to your home and create sleek kitchen/dining areas without the need for a huge initial outlay.
Regardless of the space you are working with, we guarantee that we can help you to make the most of it so that your next Christmas is memorable for all the right reasons!