Beautifully Practical – Top Tips For Creating A Functional Kitchen

It must be that time in our lives, because almost all of our closest friends – including us –  have embarked on some sort of renovation over the last year or so. This week we place the spotlight on the breath-takingly beautiful, fabulously functional kitchen of Sarah Clarke (one of our besties).

Within our friendship group, Sarah (like us) is known for her ditzyness. When renovating her 3 bed, 1930’s detached home in Nottingham, it’s fair to say decision making was not always her strong point.

If you’ve ever done a renovation, you’ll know there isn’t always time to deliberate and you’re often expected to make huge decisions under pressure. With Sarah this happened a lot. We would get regular frantic phone calls asking for advice on paint colours or wallpaper, with the decorator arriving in just hours.

Her kitchen however was researched, planned and executed to precision, and she made no compromises on style.  As a result she has a kitchen that works on a practical level, whilst also being beautiful.

I (Spiv) have also recently embarked on an extension, including a kitchen renovation, so Sarah and I decided to get our heads together and create the ultimate checklist for anyone planning a new kitchen of their own. If this is you, we’re here to help make sure you’ve considered everything to avoid any oversights. There is a huge range of practical design solutions out there, and its important you don’t miss the ones that could change your life!


  • Sparky Ideas  – Thanks to careful and extensive planning during the first and second fix, Sarah has almost no plug sockets visible on her kitchen splash backs. She planned where everything would be located and managed to hide the plug sockets at the back of the cupboard, away from view. The result is clean, neat lines and tidy looking surfaces.

Alternatively, these pop-up plug sockets are now available and can be fitted to most surfaces including granite and solid wood worktops. They are particularly effective on kitchen islands to avoid having to fit plug sockets to the sides, which can really spoil the aesthetics.


Most of us have an abundance of technology in our homes, which require ugly wires and adapters. Again, with a little planning it is possible to hide any eye-sores in a draw or cupboard to create a clutter free space.

Photo credit: The Kitchn

• Bin the bins – If you can, hide the ugly stuff. It’s nearly impossible to make a bin look attractive and don’t get me started on the specifics of getting your bin bags out of view. It’s like the “Krypton Factor.” Sarah’s solution was this compartmental pull out bin draw in her island unit. If you are struggling for space, we advise you put this to the top of the priority list.  It makes such a difference to the overall look of the kitchen and is a great space saver.

These show the same principle, but in a different space.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit: The Kitchn

Behind Closed Doors – Sarah was really keen not to have cluttered worktops filled with appliances and was inspired by the image below. It encouraged her to find hiding places for those unattractive but essential appliances they just couldn’t do without.

Photo Credit: Thrifty Décor Chick

Sarah hid her microwave from view too, in a cupboard on the end of the island, remembering to have a power supply connected.

Even the coffee machine has a home. I particularly like that when the double doors are opened, Sarah actually has a coffee station ready to go, which can be used and hidden from view as required.

•  “What’s not” to love? – When entertaining or feeding hungry kids after school, who wants to be hunting in deep, dark cupboards for your all-important sauces, herbs and spices. Things need to be accessible and visible. These pull out wire racks are perfect and it’s clear just how much can be stored in this corner solution.

In another corner of Sarah’s kitchen, a floor to ceiling pull out “what not” rack has been installed for jars, cans and other condiments. One of the best things about this is that it allows you to clearly see everything that’s stored, so there is no rummaging required, saving time and frustration.

I have never seen draws used to store herbs and spices in this way, but it’s a genius idea that has been overlooked as a design feature. We can really see the benefits of this nifty storage element.

Photo Credit: Home Tips For Women
  • Ideas that stack up – From the offset, Sarah wanted to have her plates out on display on a rack, as she had  seen a picture of her dream kitchen and thought this feature looked homely and stylish. Another upside of this design feature is the easy accessibility of the crockery and the fact it is so much less hassle than having them stacked up awkwardly in a cupboard.

If having your plates out on display plays havoc with your OCD, then these alternative plate storage solutions might be a little more up your street.

Photo Credit: M.E

This is a great way to make use of your deep pull out draws, as crockery can take up a lot of space and needs to be stored properly if you’re going to avoid chipping your best Emma Bridgewater crockery.

Photo Credit:
  • Hot stuff – I think you’ll probably agree, pans are the most difficult thing to store away. This retractable pan holder saves any bending and straining at the back of cupboards, to retrieve pots and pans.

Photo Credit:


Now, if you are lucky enough to own a set of pans as gorgeous as these, why wouldn’t you want to show them off? Consider creating a hanging wall feature, which means they are always on hand.

Photo Credit:

We asked Sarah her top tip for anyone planning a kitchen overhaul…

“I am so glad we spent the time and effort planning the space and how we wanted to use it. The best advice I can give you would be to sit down and write a list of absolutely everything you use on daily basis in your kitchen, decide if you want them to be seen or not and start planning the layout of your kitchen around this. Think carefully about where you will be preparing your food for instance, as this determined exactly where I wanted my bin storage located.”

  • Plan For Perfection – To help with the planning process, Appliance House (another favourite supplier of ours)  have written a fantastic blog post. It guides you on how much your new kitchen is likely to cost and where you could make savings. Trust us it’s well worth a read. Click here to see it. You should visit their website too at They have a superb range of stylish kitchen goods including appliances, taps, sinks and lighting.  

Get The Look!

So, now you are hopefully a little clearer about which design features are essential for your kitchen, the fun stuff can start!

We think you will agree, Sarah’s kitchen renovation is finished to perfection. The units, fittings, worktops and décor give the project the wow factor, but the real win is that it’s so incredibly functional too. The entire kitchen and all appliances were sourced and fitted by Inspirational Interiors, a Nottingham based company we highly recommend for their attention to detail, reasonable prices and extensive range available.

Read on to discover more about Sarah’s style finishes.

The colour on her island is Graphite and is a significant contrast to the surrounding kitchen cupboards, which creates a statement set in the heart of space. The worktop is marble.


Handles and pulls are a really important component in any kitchen and if chosen wisely can really set off the colour and design of the kitchen units and worktops. After much deliberation, Sarah opted for a mixture of cup pull handles on the drawers units, and a curved D cup handle for the cupboards. They are both in a cast iron vintage steel finish.

One of the highlights of this space is the popping blue chimney breast over the range and opposite dining room wall painted in ‘Juniper Ash’ by Little Greene.

The surrounding walls are also painted in Little Greene ‘Loft’ and the snug area in ‘Tusk’, which has slightly warmer grey tones. The three colours compliment one another, as you move throughout the open plan space, yet help to distinguish the different spaces within it.

Throughout the entire space a stunning Kardean parquet flooring has been laid to create a sense of space and certainly provides a feeling of luxury.

Inspo Overload

Below are Sarah’s top picks of images that influenced her kitchen décor and decisions. They might just inspire you too…

Photo Credit: Kate Rogers
Photo Credit:

Photo Credit: P&R Designs
Photo Credit: Devol kitchens

We are always telling people to get in touch with their own home improvement projects, so please do! We’d love to feature you here on the blog. Simply contact





No Comments

%d bloggers like this: