Luxury Design meets Functional Kitchen – 11 Expert kitchen design tips for Modern Homes

Find out about designing a kitchen like a professional with our step by step guide.

Table of Contents

Designing a Kitchen – The Basic Elements of Kitchen Design

Welcome to the heart of every home, where culinary artistry seamlessly merges with contemporary design. At CF Architects, we are dedicated to providing expert kitchen design tips to turn your modern kitchen into a haven of sophistication and efficiency, tailored to your unique needs.

When it comes to kitchen design, the expertise of seasoned professionals is invaluable. Our team is committed to working closely with you, understanding how you utilize your kitchen space to make informed design choices that enhance both functionality and aesthetics.

Explore our step-by-step guide to designing a kitchen, crafted to rival the work of a professional. However, we encourage you to actively engage in the process, questioning each step to ensure it aligns with your vision for the finished room. Your input is crucial in achieving the ideal kitchen layout and practicality that suits your lifestyle.

Discover the best kitchen design practices in Johannesburg with our comprehensive approach. Whether you’re seeking expert kitchen tips or aiming for the best kitchen design, our team is here to guide you. Combine your preferences with inspiration from our collection of kitchen images and styling ideas, resulting in the perfect culinary space that reflects your taste and meets your requirements.

Transform your kitchen with CF Architects, where opulence meets practicality in every design decision. Elevate your home with the best in kitchen design – your space, your style, our expertise.

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Create a Wishlist

Start by writing down all the features you would like your dream kitchen to have. 

This is the time to dream and imagine what your perfect style, appliances and layout would be. Browse Pinterest and find inspiration.  Also write down all the things you do not like about your current kitchen – what does not work for you in the current setup.  The more you see, the more you’ll begin to get a feel for the style of kitchen you prefer, whether it’s country classic or modern minimalism.

Set a Kitchen Design Budget

Knowing how much money you want to spend on your kitchen is difficult to define at the start of your project. You need to establish how much you can realistically spend on the project. Along with the kitchen itself, be sure to include allowances for appliances as well as new plumbing, electrical, lighting and finishing touches. Another tip is to add a further 20% as contingency for unforeseen costs that may pop up during the renovation and installation process.

Consider How You Will Use Your Space

Transforming your kitchen into a functional and visually appealing space involves more than just fitting a layout into available dimensions. It’s a thoughtful process that revolves around understanding and catering to your specific needs and lifestyle. In contemporary homes, the kitchen has become the central hub, playing a pivotal role in daily activities. Our approach to kitchen design in Johannesburg embraces this evolution by conceptualizing layouts based on distinct moments – specific activities unfolding within the kitchen’s realm, such as cooking, dining, entertaining, and even a designated workspace.

By acknowledging and integrating these facets into the design, we craft kitchens that seamlessly adapt to the multifaceted nature of modern living. Efficiency remains paramount, even in generously sized kitchens. Our expert kitchen tips recommend keeping prep, cook, and wash areas in close proximity to ensure a logical and streamlined workflow. This strategic arrangement not only enhances efficiency but also fosters a sense of convenience, allowing you to transition seamlessly between tasks without unnecessary disruptions.

As you embark on the journey of kitchen design, envision your daily routines and preferences, allowing them to guide the layout and functionality of the space.

Measure Up & Plan your layout

When embarking on kitchen design, achieving a harmonious blend of functionality and ambition is crucial, particularly when incorporating freestanding elements. Accurate measurements of your floor space are paramount, especially when integrating an island. Positioning the island at the center allows for comfortable movement around it, ensuring seamless access to other areas of the kitchen.

To maximize the potential of your kitchen island, consider the space beneath its countertop for valuable storage. This area proves ideal for accommodating kitchen essentials like low fridges and deep drawers. By carefully considering these elements, your kitchen will not only meet aesthetic standards but also cater to the practical demands of your lifestyle.

Optimal kitchen layout is key to efficiency. Arrange the sink, refrigerator, hob, and oven in close proximity for convenience, establishing a core configuration. Once this foundation is set, assess storage solutions for this zone to enhance functionality.

In addition to a functional arrangement, prioritize natural light and traffic flow in your layout planning. Position seating areas near windows to maximize natural light and be mindful of thoroughfares. Avoid placing the main cooking zone as the primary pathway between the hallway and the garden through the kitchen. This thoughtful planning ensures a well-organized and efficient kitchen that aligns with the practical aspects of daily life.

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Choose Your Cabinets & Island Counter Top

Begin by envisioning the desired look and ambiance for your kitchen. Consider its relationship not only to the living and dining spaces, particularly in an open-plan setting, but also how it aligns with your overall house design. In the context of a modern flush (flat-fronted) kitchen, contemplate its long-term appeal. Given the substantial investment, cabinetry stands out as a component you’d likely prefer not to change. However, keep in mind the flexibility to repaint walls and replace the backsplash in the future to accommodate evolving tastes.

When designing your kitchen layout, the allocation of countertop space is crucial. Ensure at least 600mm on either side of the sink and hob for food preparation. Additionally, incorporate a designated space near the oven for handling hot dishes.

Choosing the right material for kitchen countertops is pivotal.

Quartz surfaces, which combine quartz with pigments and polymers, offer durability surpassing many natural stones. They are resistant to stains, scratches, and heat, with a consistent appearance. Quartz also provides various marble effects, and some newer ranges incorporate recycled materials.

Contrarily, real marble is not normally a go to material anymore, due to its porous nature, making it susceptible to staining.

Porcelain, a manmade alternative, boasts high resistance to heat and stains, is available in various looks, and comes in thinner formats compared to quartz. It is also available in book-matched and vein-matched looks for extra impact, and in thinner formats, from 12mm, as opposed to quartz which is 20/30mm thick.

Granite, as a natural material, promises a unique appearance for each slab, contributing to an individualized and timeless aesthetic.

Solid surface options, such as Corian, made from acrylic resin and minerals, are non-porous, durable, and offer design freedom with seamless finishes.

For those embracing the warmth of natural materials, timber is a popular choice, often used in combination with other worktop materials. Though it requires upkeep, its range of species and finishes make it an enduring favourite in kitchen design.


A good size island can range from about 2m to 3m long and 1.1m to 1.4m wide (any wider tends to create wasted space in the centre). Allow at least 1m of space around the island, more if the route is to be used as a walkway, and if you have seating at the island, remember that not all bar stools tuck right in, so take this into account when measuring from the back of the island to the nearest wall or cabinet.

Consider the Perfect View, Scale & Proportion

Creating a kitchen involves finding the delicate equilibrium between functionality and visual appeal, with the configuration of the cabinetry playing a pivotal role. Beyond the aesthetic style, it’s essential to factor in the impact of the cabinetry’s bulk. Strive for a harmonious balance by not only considering the style but also the proportions of the cabinetry.

To achieve a well-balanced look, think about symmetry in your design. Placing significant features, like a chimney breast framing a range cooker, centrally can contribute to a sense of balance. Keep in mind that the specifics of this arrangement depend on the dimensions and height of your kitchen space.

Typically, a ‘standard’ kitchen cabinet measures 600mm in width, though various options are available, and bespoke designs allow for customized dimensions. When planning, it’s common to use 600mm-wide sections as a starting point to gauge the overall scale of the room.

A practical consideration for tall units is to extend them either up to the ceiling or just below, especially if they feature coving. This approach ensures a seamless and visually appealing integration of these elements into the overall design.

Decide on your Favourite Colours

Kitchens are rife with colour opportunities, from appliances and flooring to window treatments and cabinets. Start by deciding how much of a permanent commitment you are willing to make. One of the easiest and least expensive options is to paint a wall that can be easily updated should you tire of it.

Alternatively, smaller pops of brighter shades also add depth and personality to a neutral kitchen space. Using paint to add a splash of colour to a cabinet front, bar stool or shelving unit is not only cost-effective but also allows for a unique burst of personality to be injected with ease.

Factor in your Appliances

While conventional built-in ovens, refrigerators, and dishwashers typically have a width of 600mm, it’s essential to account for a variety of wider appliances when designing a kitchen. These include broader options like 900mm-wide ovens, 850mm-wide fridge-freezers (potentially wider if incorporating a cooling wall with a side-by-side refrigerator, freezer, and wine cabinet), and expansive range cookers measuring up to 1500mm wide.

In addition to these, your kitchen design may benefit from various specialized appliances. Consider options such as a warming drawer for slow cooking, a steam oven, a combination microwave, dishwasher drawers and possible wine coolers.

Advancements in extractor system technology offer a plethora of choices. You can now select from wall and ceiling-hung hoods, discreet flush-fit ceiling designs, hoods concealed within cabinetry or in a chimney breast, downdraft extractors integrated behind a hob, and hobs equipped with integrated extractors, providing flexibility to suit various kitchen layouts and preferences.

Plan the ideal amount of Cupboard Storage

To fully appreciate the potential of your kitchen, it’s worthwhile to contemplate the amount and style of storage needed right from the project’s inception. Dividing your space into distinct zones for specific functions allows for thoughtful planning of storage solutions tailored to each area, ensuring a seamless flow throughout the room. In more expansive kitchens, strategic design might involve incorporating a dresser on a wall between the kitchen and dining areas. This not only connects the two zones but also offers convenient storage for crockery and cutlery, placed in proximity to the dining table and a dishwasher, possibly integrated into a nearby island.

The essence of effective kitchen design always intertwines practicality with aesthetics. Consider transforming even a 250mm-deep wall shelf into both a functional and visually appealing element. Imagine adorning it with a collection of cookery books, carefully stacked to create a visually pleasing arrangement. Select colours that harmonize with elements like curtains, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal. Elevating the design of seemingly ordinary elements adds a layer of sophistication to the kitchen, combining functionality with aesthetic charm.

Plan in Kitchen Lighting

Kitchen lighting concepts play a crucial role in shaping the ambiance and functionality of the space, ranging from subdued lighting for intimate dinners to bright illumination for cleaning and working. Today’s kitchens are not just practical; they are designed to be aesthetically pleasing, and effective lighting can significantly enhance the success of the overall design.

As your kitchen layout takes shape, it’s essential to integrate thoughts about lighting, considering not only wiring requirements but also anticipating and solving potential issues that may arise during the execution of the plans. For instance, incorporating LEDs beneath wall cupboards effectively illuminates worktops. In the absence of this solution, wall lights on swing arms, adjustable to suit your needs, can provide an alternative.

Dimmable ceiling downlights offer a popular solution for general kitchen lighting. Adjust them to full brightness for cleaning and dial them down for a softer, mood-enhancing atmosphere. While starting with a grid of downlights may be helpful for achieving an even spread of light, remember to adapt it based on structural elements, such as steel joists or the presence of skylights, TV screens, etc. Also, avoid placing downlights too close to pendants or against wall cabinets. Use the grid as a flexible starting point for adjustments.

A striking pendant, strategically placed over an island or breakfast bar, can function as a captivating piece of art. Deliberate attention to practical lighting within pantries, breakfast dressers, and wall cupboards, ideally with automatic switches activated when doors open and off when closed, enhances functionality. Lighting within glazed cabinets can showcase glassware, while a simple table lamp on a console or dresser creates a seamless transition between the kitchen and adjacent dining or living areas in an open-plan setting.

Prioritize task lighting for workspaces, ensuring it is tailored to specific areas and their intended use. Blend statement pendant shades with softer mood lighting and dimmers to curate a welcoming atmosphere during entertaining occasions. Embrace creativity by mixing various feature lights, colors, and materials to achieve a unique and distinctive lighting aesthetic.

Crucially, consider planning kitchen lighting well in advance, alongside the overall layout design. Experts emphasize that the optimal time to install a new lighting scheme is before redecoration or during the initial stages of kitchen design. Addressing lighting as an afterthought may limit possibilities, diminish impact, and result in costly and disruptive corrections.

Choose Kitchen Flooring

Selecting a kitchen floor involves finding a balance between durability, maintenance ease, and style, as it can significantly influence the overall aesthetic and functionality of the room. The material chosen depends on your budget and preferences regarding character, beauty, and practicality.

Porcelain tiles currently lead in popularity due to their robust nature, non-porous properties, high resistance to stains and scratches, compatibility with underfloor heating, and an extensive array of designs, colours, and formats. Reproductions of stone, wood, concrete, and terrazzo effects in porcelain tiles are remarkably faithful to the originals.

For a relaxed and warm ambiance, stone-look tiles, particularly soft, matte limestone-effect porcelain, are a fitting choice. This finish is not only easier to maintain than polished or heavily textured tiles but also complements a relaxed atmosphere. Consider large format tiles to create a dramatic sense of scale, even with neutral tones.

Wood-look tiles, especially plank-shaped porcelain with a woodgrain pressed into the surface, have gained popularity for introducing character and movement without sacrificing realism. The textured surface adds to the authenticity of the wood effect.

If you desire the soft, powdery colours and patterns of encaustic tiles without the maintenance demands, opt for encaustic-look porcelain tiles. Alternatively, create a bespoke floor using a range of triangular formats in various colours, allowing for diverse design possibilities.

For those drawn to the natural beauty of real stone or wood, it’s crucial to acknowledge the porous nature of these materials. Regular maintenance is required to preserve their appearance over time.

Engineered timber, often more stable than solid wood, should be shielded from standing water. Laminate, composed of wood particle board with a sealed and protected printed paper layer, offers affordability and durability but may not appeal to those seeking a natural aesthetic.

Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) are waterproof, durable, and thinner at 4mm, making them suitable when build-up is a concern.

When deciding on kitchen flooring, prioritize safety, durability, and ease of cleaning in addition to style and design, ensuring a well-rounded and practical choice for your culinary space.


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