Phil, Sam and Krystle in Forest Hill – July 2016

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“It’s actually a kitchen by itself” exclaimed the delightful Krystle as she stood in the 1000 sq ft Forest Hill ground floor flat and looked around her at the space.

“We could put a table in here” said Sam thus proving once again, if it needs proving, that separate kitchens with space for a table are a practical necessity welcomed by buyers and shouldn’t be a sought after luxury omitted by greedy developers unwilling to build walls in modern flats.

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In brief: Fit wooden sliding doors or build a chimney breast

I do love my readers.  The title of this piece is taken from a Google search from Norway and I was very taken by the phraseology.

The reader was looking at Alexandra Road which demonstrates a great way to combine kitchen and dining room while allowing separation from the living room. In the photo above the kitchen is behind the left hand partition wall.

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Separate kitchens

October 5th, 2011

Clearly I’m not the only one who bemoans the loss of the separate kitchen, here’s an example of thinking along the same lines taken from the comments section of Building Design magazine.

Valerie Paynter | 15 September 2011 1:22 am

It was Boris Johnson who mainstreamed the call to “bring back the Parker Morris standard for room sizes” but getting the architecture profession to shout the same thing has perhaps needed a recession when there would be no work to lose by speaking out. Even so, it isn’t architects speaking; its the professional body.

I emailed MP Mike Weatherley with a call for him to speak out against the loss of separate kitchens in newbuild flats along with Amy Kennedy of the new Green Administration in Brighton & Hove. Amy Kennedy agreed with my room sizes and actual, functionally sized separate kitchens plea. My MP did not reply but his assistant asked where there were flats without kitchens he could look at (!).

I’ll send them a link to this article as well as our local press, the saveHOVE supporters and anyone else I can think of.

When planning applications are out for consultation, people look at the computer-generated lie and listen to the PR spin and only really judge a development on how high it will be, how much traffic it will generate and – most of all – how it will affect parking locally. If a famous (Frank Gehry) architect has his name stamped on a development people go “OOOH ERRR” i’nt we lucky to get this “landmark architecture” that will “put the city on the map”.

This country has no future worth having if this kind of deeply mean and Scrooge-inspired designer warehousing of people continues. The proposed changes to Planning in favour of developers are about stamping out resistance to demands for properly sized homes and instead lining the pockets of developers. Perhaps they make the best donors to political parties. (subscribers only)

Does London really need more single aspect flats with low ceilings, inadequate windows, surplus ensuites and minimal storage?

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This is an edited version of the original article since the “kitchen” is my main objection.

The living room is the largest room in the flat, extending the full width of the structural bay, containing an L shaped row of kitchen units completely ruining the effect.

Every time I look at this I think it stinks – it’s appalling – it’s not a kitchen

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I had to laugh.  That’s what somebody typed into Google (in the title) before reaching my page on crap flats.  I had no idea they were designed I thought they were the space left over when the requisite number of en-suite bedrooms and toilets had been put in along with the composite living/dining area.  I cannot seriously imagine design ever coming into it.

Look through this blog and all the TW kitchens you’ll see here will be units stuck along a wall or around a corner or as an afterthought (mostly) without windows to look out of.

Thank you 109.149.4.xx for making my day.

Taylor Wimpey aren’t the only ones.  Read my post on Kidbrooke Village – Phase One or Pepys Estate and what you find is that Berkeley Homes also regard it as acceptable not to include a separate kitchen in either their new developments or their redevelopments.  They are not even pretending to approach open plan, they are just dumping a line of units along the wall in a room as an apology for a kitchen.

Alfa Laval Brentford

Building F Plans (Private)

Click plan above for full drawing

I have reservations about this design. The front door leads sideways into the hall requiring a 90 deg turn for all furniture movements in and out with freedom of movement being further compromised by the proximity of the adjacent wall.  Given the direction in which the front door opens it will be additionally difficult to move furniture in and out.  The ensuite if required at all which is questionable, should be a shower given that the property already has one bath.  The other bathroom door opens outwards thus causing unnecessary conflict with passage to the adjacent bedroom.

The double bedroom closest to the living room might be better as a single in order to make room for a proper kitchen in its own four walls, and a living room alone looking onto the terrace.

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Do I need to spell out what’s wrong with this flat?

Click image above for full floorplan


The front door leads into the side of a corridor such that moving furniture in and out is likely to be problematic owing to the need to immediately turn a right angle not to mention the adjacent wall which will make turning long furniture difficult. The doors on the two ensuite bathrooms and the additional toilet, all open outwards because the rooms are so small. The toilet door will foul the corridor when open.  None of the doors open so as to preserve the privacy of a room.

Dormer vs. Velux

Bedroom 2 doesn’t have proper windows, it’s got Velux instead so there’s no direct view out.  This might be acceptable in a house as a loft conversion where there are existing bedrooms with conventional windows but not (to me) in one of the two main bedrooms.  These do not enable a direct view out of the property but only a distant view and that of the sky. They will be noisy when it rains or hails and allow direct sunlight to heat the room in a way that a dormer would not.

Storage space

Storage space is non-existent.  The sloping walls make it difficult to place wardrobes and bookcases against external walls thus further reducing storage.

Kitchen – there isn’t one

There is no separate kitchen.  What serves as a kitchen is a few units in the corner of the living room with no view out for the person cooking or preparing food. Why is the kitchen not a separate room and why given that it’s been stuck in the living room like an unwanted appendage, does it have no view?

Bathrooms and toilets

Why do a couple and their one or two children need three toilets? Why is there a bathroom for every occupant, and then some.

Is this good design?  I don’t think so.  Where are they?  “Southminster”, Cook’s Shipyard, Wivenhoe, Essex.

How do crap flats win awards?  I suspect the award is for the block layout rather than the detailed flat design.

“the best researched” designs one planning commitee member had ever seen

This lot can’t even bring themselves to call a toilet a toilet.  Apparently it’s a “guest cloakroom”.

“Just one of the new homes available now is the superb two-bedroom ‘Southminster’ apartment, priced from just £249,995, which is characterised by a magnificent open-plan kitchen/lounge/dining room leading to a private balcony with stunning views over the water.

Both bedrooms boast en-suite shower rooms and the property also benefits from a handy guest cloakroom off the entrance hallway.”


UPDATE: 22/9/11 Now this from the RIBA and their excellent Case for Space publication

8 sqm is the single bedroom you’re missing. It’s the space for a new arrival to the family, the space that means the kids have a room of their own or a spare room for a guest to stay over. It’s the space that could take the kitchen out of the lounge and the sounds and smells that go with it.


Building Design magazine ran a story recently about a new development in Roehampton (South West London) by Assael architects for some flats.  I phoned Wandsworth council to try and find out more and this is what I discovered.

Type in the planning reference 2009/4199

Land at Highcliffe Drive, Clarence Lane SW15

No single aspect flats that I could see from a cursory glance but no kitchens either.  The kitchen seems to be a vanishing room in modern developments and in this development appears only as a corner unit in the living rooms. No view from the sink, no isolation of smells from the living room.  Too bad if you’re boiling cabbage or cooking curry.

I’d like to say that I don’t understand why modern developments have done away with separate kitchens but the sadness is that I do understand and I don’t like it.  If you look back at the history of housing from year dot through to the present there was no doubt a time when families shared a kitchen as in tenement blocks, or all lived in one room where the range provided the warmth, and variations on that theme.

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