From The 90’s To The 21st Century – How Kitchens Need To Be Redesigned


A good friend of mine decided to head off recently to have a look at some new showroom kitchens. Manchester has a fantastic range of kitchen showrooms, and as she lives near the city, decided to see what was on offer. She’s a fairly good cook, having not burnt too many salads in her time, but more than this, her kitchen is a hive of activity from morning till night, and it shows.

The kitchen she has had for years has become outgrown, and tired, and really doesn’t suit the purpose any more. Years ago when the kitchen was first fitted it was fine, because it was just her, a microwave, a few cans of beans and a takeaway menu. As the years rolled on and she got married, had a family and started to find her social circle was more like a mothers’ support group, her kitchen became strained and wholly unsuitable.

This is why she decided to see what was cooking in the world of the showroom kitchen, Manchester. The city has something of a reputation for designer kitchens, most probably because for one reason or another the place seems to have become a Mecca for the kitchen designer. Manchester has more kitchen designers than almost any other city in the UK outside London, making it an attractive destination for anyone in the surrounding area to head in order to find inspiration for a new, more suitable kitchen.

My friend’s kitchen is now used for cooking the family meals, which in itself takes it to a whole new level beyond the brief use it occasionally experienced years ago. But whilst kitchens have traditionally been places where meals were prepared, more of us today are using our kitchens in a far more diverse range of ways.

For my friend the day starts with her staggering downstairs, slumping into a chair and having a coffee. She stares blearily at the post, whilst topping up her fuel cells with caffeine, before getting the children up. Next up, the kitchen becomes a place for sorting out homework, books, lunch boxes and school bags, before breakfast is prepared and served.

Kitchens are increasingly places where people are not just preparing food, but serving it, despite many kitchen designs not really making this terribly easy or convenient. After the children have been despatched it’s time to sort out paperwork, write a few letters and sort out the banking, all of which takes place in the kitchen, with one drawer being dedicated to paperwork. And batteries. And spare light bulbs, old keys, broken toys, glue, pencils, pens and that little plastic thing which looks important but nobody can remember where it came from or what it’s for, but it’s kept anyway just in case it is important, even though it’s been sitting in a drawer for seven years.

After this, a lunch whilst reading a paper or magazine is followed by a brief respite for the poor old kitchen, before the kids come home from school and it becomes a place of work, with homework being completed on the kitchen table, whilst my friend starts to prepare dinner.

But whether it’s preparing dinner, or a meal with friends, the other problem with the kitchen is that when it was designed and installed many years ago, you could buy a single can of beans, or one packet of crisps. Today it seems supermarkets only sell cans of beans in packs of four, crisps in packs of eighteen, drinks in 3 litre bottles and almost everything else in bulk, which makes storage a real problem.

Not only that but work surfaces have been overtaken with gadgets, from microwaves to blenders, toasters and kettles to coffee makers, leaving even less space for storage. So my friend’s decision to see what sort of new kitchens Manchester could come up with was almost less about style and decor, albeit important considerations, and more about finding a kitchen designer in Manchester who realises that today kitchens need to be very different from those installed a decade or more ago.