What do all of these kitchen activities have in common: Boiling the electric kettle for a cup of tea; laying out ingredients you’re about to make into a tasty supper; stirring up cake mix during an afternoon of baking…?
These are just some of the things we do in our kitchens that often make use of the kitchen work surface or worktop in the room.
Work surfaces are a practical space. They are often a sort of on-display storage area for things you need to have to-hand. The kettle, the toaster and the fruit bowl, for example.
Of course, you will also want to keep them fairly clear because they become a home for any number of kitchen jobs that need a large expanse of flat space – changing their role throughout the day.
Worktops offer somewhere to put the plates you’re about to dish up onto, to quickly pop those shopping bags, to rest the chopping board on – and much more.
These are some things all materials must offer in order to be useful for the task of being a kitchen work surface. They must be relatively strong, you should be able to clean them with ease and they need to be able to be smooth enough to work on.
But despite constants like these, worktops vary a lot between kitchens, based on things like the colour they are and what they are made from.
Picking out a great colour
The colour, pattern and overall look of surface you want may well play a part in influencing the type of material you go for (see below).
You’ll want to think about your worktop colour in relation to every other part of your kitchen, and the shades you have in place or are planning to use here.
Walls, splashbacks, the floor, the cabinets – it’s probably a good idea to create cohesion and have all these in shades that work well with your worktop and vice versa.
Colour wheels are a classic colour choice aid and picking out colours placed close to each other on these is just one example of a design-savvy colour choice technique.
Choosing a material
The shades of colour available to you may well differ depending on the sort of material you opt to have your work surfaces made from.
Each material has its own defining features and not just when it comes to looks.
Here’s a brief guide to several popular types of worktop and what they’re made from, just as a starting point:
Corian: DuPoint’s Corian brand mixes acrylic and minerals. Tristone is an example of a similar acrylic work surface option.
Wood: Natural tree-tastic wood needs little introduction.
Granite: Another one on the more straight-from-nature side of things, granite is in fact an igneous rock, a category you might remember from school!
Quartz: Man made and mainly containing the mineral quartz.
Laminate: In these surfaces, a base material is covered with plastic laminate.
Where do work surfaces go?
Work surfaces tend to go above cabinets at around waist level, for easy access. You might have such a surface along one, two, three or more walls of the room, as well as on a kitchen island, for example.
It’s useful to have a good amount of work surface available as this offers a practical, multi-purpose part of a kitchen. Remember that you will pay more the more of a material you use, as a general rule, and the type of material you pick for worktops is also going to impact price.
Who can help me choose a work surface?
A kitchen designer is one example of a professional who can support the kitchen planning process, including telling you about things like different sorts of surface you might want to consider.