Design Brain: Options

So the thing about design is that there's always another way to do things. The (almost) infinite possibilities when faced with a blank sheet of paper. Thankfully, for one's sanity, there are always influences that define whether an idea, a design, is a good solution or not. Too expensive, too complicated, too fussy, wrong style, wrong lifestyle type; all sorts of ways a design could be inappropriate for a particular application (but right for another).

A colleague said to me before Christmas "When you're advising a client it's easy to be definitive about the best option; when it's you own project you can never decide." And he was right. Here are the three leading options I've been considering for the new layout of the flat, but there were two or three sub-options for each of these, and four completely different options that didn't get this far! Aren't you glad I'm not showing you everything?!

Translation, from top left anticlockwise: Bigger cupboard/entrance, is it worth messing this area around?; Bath can't go here because toilet must stay in same position; Fridge here makes slick wall of cabinets; Where does cooker extract vent to?

There were some easy choices for me: a better, bigger kitchen; making the most of the floor area by making an open plan living space; minimising the hall so as not to waste space on circulation; maximising the storage. The big moves are usually obvious; if they're not, they're usually the wrong moves.

The next level of detail is a lot harder. The relative merits of a bath or a shower, or where the cooker goes. This seemingly small changes can make a massive difference to how the flat will work and feel to live in. In a small area the difference between 10 or 20cm this way or that has a much bigger impact than it would in a larger space.

Translation, from left anticlockwise: shower vs. bath?; too wide too dominant; narrow units would make regular width counter tops above; less keen on the wall units over counter; bi-slide door would be bespoke at this size; keeping this wall less electrical work

Some of these are decided by the existing layout; the best place to put an extract fan for the cooker places it on the bedroom wall so it can vent to the existing air bricks on the front of the building. Some are decided by personal preference; I don't like wall cupboards over a worktop, it feels oppressive to me, so I want to have a wall of tall units, and a large open counter area. 

Agonising over the tiniest details can get ridiculous. Ultimately it's about feel, what my gut is telling me. The three options here would all be fine. They all have their benefits, and disadvantages, but the layout I'm taking forward is this last one.

Translation, from top left anticlockwise: shower vs. bath?; low wall?; Shelves with mirror over above here; vent out through existing air bricks; keep drainage in place; lower level free air above to feel spacious; Tall units with opening for cooker.

The kitchen will have a wall of units, with the cooker set into it; fridge and freezer under the counter opposite; and the sink stays under the window. Which makes pleasingly balanced work triangle From the living room most of the appliances will be hidden, so it doesn't look too much like a kitchen, unless you're standing in it. Renewing the hot water tank will free up space in the airing cupboard, and allow the washing machine to be moved out of the kitchen. Then the kitchen walkway can be slimmed down, and so take up less of the living room but still have the space to incorporate a dishwasher. I'm stealing a little space from the hall and installing a pocket door that will disappear into the bedroom wall. 

And what does this all point to? The walls around the kitchen and between the kitchen and the bedroom need to go. Bring on the Demolition Derby!