Home is where the heart is. Or at least that’s how the old saying goes. But we think it’s time to update that and zero in on what’s actually happening in homes up and down the UK – and around the world. Perhaps the saying should really be, the kitchen is where the heart is. Not as catchy perhaps, but it certainly seems to strike at the heart of how people have been using their homes in recent years.

The kitchen has changed with the times we live in. The days when the stay at home wife would slave away in the kitchen all day appear numbered, if not done. It is no longer a room where you shut yourself away to make dinner for family or guests sat enjoying themselves in a different part of the house. Rather it has become an all purpose room where everyone muddles in and gets involved. It is a room on which we have painted a new normal.

But there are other forces at play here too. There simply isn’t enough time. What with work, daily chores, preparing meals and after all that taking some time to chill out and socialise; we’re all feeling the squeeze.

That’s why the modern kitchen now suits the modern family. It is a place to relax, to entertain and, last but not least, a place to cook.

With that in mind here are our four top tips for ensuring you keep the kitchen at the heart of everything you do.

Go open plan

Open plan is the way forward for the modern kitchen. It needs to be all things at once. As such, you really want to use as much space as possible. Can an obsolete dining room be knocked through to create one grander space? In your open plan space, you want at least an area to relax, a place to cook and tidy up and a place to sit up and eat. The ideal thing about this is that you can get on with what needs doing in the kitchen while you watch over the family doing homework or chilling out.

Ensure a central island 

This is a fairly non-negotiable part of any open plan kitchen. While you want a multi-purpose space all in one room, it does help to have a divide in place. This can help you switch off after dinner, moving out of the kitchen area. It can also be a useful barrier to any unwanted visitors in the kitchen during that mad dash phase just before dinner’s served. This island can also serve as an area to grab a quick bite to eat such as breakfast or could even be used as your more formal dining point.

Control the light effectively

Lighting works in two ways. During the day, it really helps to flood the open space with as much natural light as possible. This will make the area feel bigger and fresher. But in the evening you want to change the whole dynamic of the space. No more so is this true than if you want to relax in front of the TV. This is where blinds, side lights and dimmers can help. Closing out the outside world and dampening the light can afford your open plan kitchen the same snug feeling you’d usually get in the sitting room. A few well placed spotlights can draw attention and focus to, say, the central island and make it the perfect place to socialise with friends and family. Really draw the attention and go all out on a showpiece granite kitchen worktop to make this the nucleus of your kitchen.

Make functionality a priority

If your kitchen is to become the beating heart of your home, it has to work like a liveable space. Function should be your priority over form. Those straight back chairs may look nice in the brochure, but will they be comfy enough for everyone to happily sit on? Comfort should be at the heart of, at least, your more relaxed area. Think about colours as well, if you’re likely to have pets and children running around the area, darker colours are more forgiving.

Home is where the heart is. Or at least that’s how the old saying goes. But we think it’s time to update that and zero in on what’s actually happening in homes up and down the UK – and around the world. Perhaps the saying should really be, the kitchen is where the heart is. Not as catchy perhaps, but it certainly seems to strike at the heart of how people have been using their homes in recent years.

The kitchen has changed with the times we live in. The days when the stay at home wife would slave away in the kitchen all day appear numbered, if not done. It is no longer a room where you shut yourself away to make dinner for family or guests sat enjoying themselves in a different part of the house. Rather it has become an all purpose room where everyone muddles in and gets involved. It is a room on which we have painted a new normal.

But there are other forces at play here too. There simply isn’t enough time. What with work, daily chores, preparing meals and after all that taking some time to chill out and socialise; we’re all feeling the squeeze.

That’s why the modern kitchen now suits the modern family. It is a place to relax, to entertain and, last but not least, a place to cook.

With that in mind here are our four top tips for ensuring you keep the kitchen at the heart of everything you do.

Go open plan

Open plan is the way forward for the modern kitchen. It needs to be all things at once. As such, you really want to use as much space as possible. Can an obsolete dining room be knocked through to create one grander space? In your open plan space, you want at least an area to relax, a place to cook and tidy up and a place to sit up and eat. The ideal thing about this is that you can get on with what needs doing in the kitchen while you watch over the family doing homework or chilling out.

Ensure a central island 

This is a fairly non-negotiable part of any open plan kitchen. While you want a multi-purpose space all in one room, it does help to have a divide in place. This can help you switch off after dinner, moving out of the kitchen area. It can also be a useful barrier to any unwanted visitors in the kitchen during that mad dash phase just before dinner’s served. This island can also serve as an area to grab a quick bite to eat such as breakfast or could even be used as your more formal dining point.

Control the light effectively

Lighting works in two ways. During the day, it really helps to flood the open space with as much natural light as possible. This will make the area feel bigger and fresher. But in the evening you want to change the whole dynamic of the space. No more so is this true than if you want to relax in front of the TV. This is where blinds, side lights and dimmers can help. Closing out the outside world and dampening the light can afford your open plan kitchen the same snug feeling you’d usually get in the sitting room. A few well placed spotlights can draw attention and focus to, say, the central island and make it the perfect place to socialise with friends and family. Really draw the attention and go all out on a showpiece granite kitchen worktop to make this the nucleus of your kitchen.

Make functionality a priority

If your kitchen is to become the beating heart of your home, it has to work like a liveable space. Function should be your priority over form. Those straight back chairs may look nice in the brochure, but will they be comfy enough for everyone to happily sit on? Comfort should be at the heart of, at least, your more relaxed area. Think about colours as well, if you’re likely to have pets and children running around the area, darker colours are more forgiving.