15 design ideas for a stylish family-friendly kitchen

By Ruth Bell 22-02-2024
15 design ideas for a stylish family-friendly kitchen

Can a kitchen that is safe for the family also be chic? We think so. From taps to tiles, here are the tips and buys to create a space that works on all levels

Words: Ruth Bell


A family kitchen has to juggle quite a lot. It needs to be functional and convenient for times when speed is of the essence, it must be safe for all members of the family to use and it should also be a cosy hub where everyone can relax together. All of which makes for quite the balancing act when you’re planning a remodel. This is why we’ve pulled together our top 15 tips to help you out. Follow our guide and your kitchen will not only tick all the family-friendly boxes, but stand out in the style stakes too!

Image of Bertazzoni Air-Tec 90cm cooker

1. Clear the air

Good air quality is important for family members of all ages, particularly in an open-plan kitchen, so take care of it at the source with a hob and built-in extractor. Unlike traditional hoods that sit at a distance from the hob, these models efficiently extract steam, cooking odours and smoke before it has time to dissipate into the room. Induction hobs are also a great easy-clean option too.

Above: Bertazzoni Air-Tec 90cm cooker with induction top and integrated extractor, €7,499, Harvey Norman

Image of Cucine Lube The Nook

2. A place for everything

Nothing makes a kitchen feel more chaotic than clutter, so good storage is a must in a family space. Breakfast cupboards are a brilliant invention, as you can keep all the elements in one place, from cereals and essential crockery to toaster and coffee machine – just be sure to include plug sockets so you can use appliances in situ. And, most satisfying of all, you can pull the pocket doors closed on everything when breakfast is over. Cucine Lube has extended the concept with ‘The Nook’, which not only features an extending work surface, it also has space for ovens, a fridge-freezer and pull-out storage.

Above: The Nook, from €1,500, and full kitchen, from €15,000, Cucine Lube

Image of Liebherr IRBdi5180 Peak BioFresh integrated fridge

3. Eat well and reduce waste

For a family kitchen, a large capacity fridge-freezer is a must. But it’s also important to think about reducing food waste and today’s appliances are designed to help you do just that, keeping food fresher for longer and nutrient rich. This Liebherr model features a BioFresh drawer that extends the shelf life of delicate foods such as fruit and salads with a near 0ºC temperature and constant humidity. Models with a water dispenser, like this one, also reduce a family’s reliance on bottled water. For appliances that fit perfectly into your colour scheme, you could consider an integrated model that sits discreetly behind the door fronts. With only minimal finger-pull handles, you will ensure the lines of the kitchen stay sleek.

Above: Liebherr IRBdi5180 Peak BioFresh integrated fridge, £POA, Liebherr

Image of Franke Atlas Neo Sensor tap

4. Get a smarter tap

The latest kitchen taps will not only withstand everything family life can throw at them, but will also help you save water, time and space in the kitchen. Taps with in-built sensors are brilliant for when you have messy hands, plus models like Franke’s Atlas Neo can be pre-set to regulate the temperature and avoid the water getting too hot for little hands. Meanwhile, a mixer tap that also delivers (near) boiling-water will mean you don’t need a kettle on the countertop and, because the kettle-hot water is instant, it helps to save energy too. All taps feature child-safe buttons making them suitable for the family kitchen and they come in a range of styles and finishes, so you don’t have to compromise on looks either!

Above: Franke Atlas Neo Sensor tap, find your nearest retailer on the Franke website

Image of Kube open-plan family kitchen in black

5. In the zone

Often the kitchen is the hardest working room in the house. Try incorporating zones for different activities. With spaces for dining, relaxing and work. Use matching furniture, such as in this Kube kitchen where the wall units, breakfast bar, table and window seat are all the same material, with mustard chairs uniting the scheme. For subtle divisions you could use a change in flooring or a slatted room divider. This will allow the areas to work separately but retain a connection.

Above: Kube kitchen in Waterford with Dekton Laurent worktop, plus breakfast bar, wall units and window seat in Volcanic oak. A similar kitchen from around €25,000, Kube

Image of utility and laundry room created by Neptune

6. Divide and conquer

If you have space to create a laundry room, it will offer endless rewards in a family kitchen. Not having to endure the noise of the washing machine in the kitchen or laundry drying in the dining area will create a more ordered and pleasant space for everyone. By installing a separate sink, you can also clean muddy boots or pets in this area, as well as use it as somewhere to house awkward items like mops, buckets and brooms. A separate laundry room is also great for storing anything you want to buy in bulk like tinned goods, toilet rolls or pet food. In this scheme, Neptune has mirrored the furniture from the kitchen but is painted white rather than blue, to define the two spaces.

Above: Chichester kitchen and laundry room, price on application, Neptune

Image of Hanoi tiles in Celadon, Tubes & Tiles

7. Make tiles the star

A tiled splashback feels like a necessity but there are so many stunning tiles out there, you can also make this practical solution a feature in its own right. Why not tile higher than you need to and then simply mount an open shelf or single cupboard, rather than wall cabinets? It will help the room to feel less closed in – particularly in a narrow kitchen – and allow the tiles you’ve chosen to shine. Ceramic tiles are easier to keep clean than painted walls and the colours won’t fade with time.

Above: Hanoi tiles in Celadon, €58.55 per sq.m, Tubs & Tiles

Image of kitchen by Arena Kitchens with flooring by Stone & Ceramic Warehouse

8. Strong is beautiful

There’s no doubt that durable surfaces are key in a family kitchen, so think carefully when choosing your worktops, splashbacks and flooring. You don’t want to compromise on looks, but you’ll also need something that will withstand constant use and daily cleaning. Manmade composite surfaces that mix natural minerals with resin give the look of natural stone but in a non-porous material that is strong and flexible, as well as resistant to scratches and stains. Porcelain is another fantastically durable choice and can be fashioned into worktops or stone-effect floor tiles that will stay looking great for a lifetime. Choose the same format tiles for inside and outside to create a seamless link between the two.

Above: Arena Grey porcelain tiles (indoors), 120 x 120cm, £96 per sq.m, and Cortina stone (outdoors), 120 x 120cm, £90 per sq.m, Stone & Ceramic Warehouse; Photo: Arena

Image of a high-ceiling Mark Lohan family kitchen with traditional island

9. A place for me-time

A window seat is always a lovely place to relax with a book and a cup of tea or even just to stare out of the window and dream for a while. Including one in a family kitchen gives adults a space to retreat to when they have a minute and is also a great place for kids to sit and read under their parents’ watchful eyes. This modern country design from Mark Lohan features a bespoke window seat painted in the same ‘Latte’ shade as the island. It also features useful drawers underneath for stashing toys.

Above: Mark Lohan Eglinton Collection kitchen in Latte and Seashell with Mysterio quartz worktops, from €7,000, Mark Lohan Kitchens

Image of kitchen showing Brooklyn pendant lights from Industville

10. Light up your life

A range of lighting is important in a family kitchen to suit different activities. For example, you need good task lighting above prep and cooking areas, while mood lighting that can be dimmed as needed is essential above a dining table. Include a full range to give yourself flexibility, from pendants over the island to track lighting recessed under wall cabinets. Go for something decorative where the lighting is on show – or even fun and colourful, this is a family kitchen after all!

Above: Brooklyn tinted glass 9-inch globe pendant in Smoke Grey, €140, Industville; Photo: @houseonthecorner_16

Image of blue kitchen and yellow splashback, colours by Little Greene

11. Family-safe paint

For walls and cabinetry it’s important to choose paints that are certified Child Safe, with zero added VOCs and water-based so they don’t give off harmful odours. These will be both kinder to your family and to the environment. Happily, there are now plenty of options that have all these qualities and are also hardwearing, suitable for use in a kitchen and – crucially – washable with warm soapy water. There’s also some seriously bright and beautiful colours to choose from too.

Above: Wall, Stock 37 Intelligent Matt Emulsion, €68.50 for 2.5L; tiles, Sunlight 135 Intelligent Eggshell, €87 for 2.5L; units, Heat 24 Intelligent Satinwood, €96 for 2.5L, Little Greene

Image of Hillarys Mirage White Maple Faux Wood blind in a kitchen

12. Climate control

Kitchens bathed in natural light are lovely to spend time in, but it does raise the question of controlling the heat on sunny days, as well as maintaining privacy at night. For a family kitchen, blinds are a great option because most roller blinds, slatted or vertical blinds can be purchased in waterproof and easy-to-clean finishes. As this is the kitchen ensure they’re also resistant to humidity so they keep their shape. Best of all, blinds come in a wide range of materials and colours, so you’re sure to find something that will match your scheme.

Above: Mirage White Maple Faux Wood blind, starting from €99, Hillarys

Image of Hux London family kitchen in dark green

13. Make it a space for everyone

The beauty of designing a kitchen from scratch is you can include touches that will appeal to family members of all ages. This kitchen from HUX features a deep shade of blue across all the cabinetry, which instantly adds warmth to this contemporary space, as well as interest as it appears black, green or blue in different lights. Meanwhile the monolithic island contains masses of storage, including open shelving and easy-to-reach cupboards for books and toys on the living area side. This can graduate to a space for cookery books and more grown-up accessories as the children get older.

Above: Bespoke family kitchen, from €50,000, HUX

Image of a Scavolini by Multiliving kitchen in Hertfordshire

14. A sociable spot

An L-shaped island will create a sociable spot in the heart of a kitchen. Here, an integrated bench is built into the furniture and a dining area has been added to create a space for meals. Matching bar stools sit at the end of the island where a short section of overhanging worktop forms a simple breakfast bar. It creates a division between the dining and working sides of the kitchen, but whoever is cooking or prepping can remain part of the conversation.

Above: Kitchen designed by Scavolini by Multiliving, comprising DeLinea and Carattere units and quartz worktops, Scavolini kitchens from €25,000, available from Vita Italiana

Image of Nöa & Nani Halmstad storage bench

15. Furniture with a purpose

Make every piece in the kitchen earn its place by choosing furniture that can have a double use. A bench that is a place to stop and put on shoes can also be used for handy storage, either for shoes or toys. Paint it in a colourful hue and it might even encourage the children to take ownership and keep it tidy!

Above: Nöa & Nani Halmstad storage bench in Grey and Natural Pine, €115, Nöa & Nani


For more advice on creating your perfect kitchen, check out our guide to lighting the kitchen and for more inspiration, take a look at this beautiful renovation of a family kitchen in Wexford.

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