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Using design research to create my dream kitchen

Personal project 

I love cooking and when renovating my house I was keen to create a kitchen that I enjoyed using. I found designing a kitchen a frustrating process so I decided to apply the user experience and user research approaches I use in my work to design my dream kitchen. 

The problem

My wife and I bought a house in our dream location but weren't happy with the kitchen in the house. It hadn't been updated since it was built in the 60s and it was small and cramped, tucked away in a dark corner of the house and didn't work for us or our needs. When we started speaking to kitchen companies to design a new kitchen I got frustrated because despite being very helpful they relied a lot on us telling them where to put things and focussed on the aesthetics of the kitchen rather than functionality or user experience. 

What did I do?  


Wrote down all of our user journeys

To understand how my wife and I used the existing kitchen, we spent a week writing down all the journeys we did in the kitchen step by step. I left a notebook and pen in the kitchen to remind us to do this. By the end of the week I had a long list of steps and actions that we did in the kitchen. 



Listed everything we stored or would store in kitchen and how frequently we used it 

I then went through all our cupboards and made a list of the different food items and kitchen utensils we currently had. By looking at the journeys we wrote down I was able to highlight which items in the kitchen we used a lot and which ones we used less frequently. The plan was to try and keep the things we used frequently in easy reach and close together while things we used less frequently could be further away. 


Ideation session of kitchen designs with my wife 

Next I sat down with my wife and we started designing different kitchen layouts on pen and paper. We quickly found though this was very difficult because we lost track of where things were and we always felt we were missing something. 

To help I mocked up a layout of the kitchen in Figma creating labels for each item and blocks to represent different units. This allowed us move things around and make sure we had accounted for everything. By doing this we were able to freely move things around and discuss them. This helped us come to a rough design and layout for the kitchen. 

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Built a prototype and tested it 

Once we had a rough layout of the kitchen we wanted to get a feel for what it would be like to use the kitchen in real life. To do this we rearranged some of the furniture in our living room and laid it out in the layout of the new kitchen. We then placed kitchen items in locations where we were planning to put them. We then walked through practising the different processes to see how it would feel to complete the actions. 

By doing the actions and watching each other complete tasks in our mocked-up kitchen, we were able to see a few issues from the design.  After doing this we added more drawers to avoid bending down to open cupboards and moved the bins closer to the sink. 

The result

We came up with a kitchen design that used the space efficiently and accounted for everything we had. It also gave us confidence in spending the money on our kitchen before we ordered it. 

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