Gone is the idea that a kitchen is just a functional room, a place where you prepare food. Today's kitchens meet a variety of family needs and we are, in many ways, returning to the days when this room was the hub of everyday living.

Glyn Rodway, the managing director of Chipping Norton-based Cotteswood, which makes English kitchen furniture, describes the kitchen as the day room' of the home.

He said: "Today's kitchens are for sharing, experimenting and entertaining.

"It has become the main family room in the home; the place to head for after a long day, to warm up and absorb the familiar atmosphere of the pre-supper buzz, to entertain, to relax, or where you enjoy a morning coffee as you stare out on a bright new day."

This multiple use means that modern kitchens are bigger than ever and people want bespoke designs, tailor-made to the needs of the entire family.

Mr Rodway said:"Kitchen design has practical elements - a place to prepare food, a seating area for eating and possibly a relaxation area.

"But a successful kitchen must also satisfy the needs of the household, and nobody knows this better than the people who live there.

"These requirements cover the use of the kitchen, size of the family and kitchen appliances, both existing and new.

"At Cotteswood, we understand our ideas and designs have to be sympathetic to the property's architectural style, as well as meeting the client's requirements in terms of colour, texture and space."

While in many existing kitchens, the position of worktops often mean that while carrying out chores you look towards a wall or out of a window, modern designers are rethinking the position and style of some units, particularly in through kitchen/dining rooms.

Mr Rodway said that island or peninsula units have become the "communication point in the kitchen".

Here, someone can prepare food while chatting to a member of the family, or children can do homework in the company of their parents.

Indeed, Mr Rodway said, some of these younger members of the family are influencing the design of the kitchen, not just through their needs but because they want to be actively involved in deciding on the layout.

As a long-term investment, the style of kitchen you choose needs to last your family as it grows and changes. Cotteswood designers can go one step further to helping you achieve not just the best functionality, but also with establishing a lasting style.

Mr Rodway explained:"Designing a kitchen does not stop at cabinets and worktops. The designer can also advise on appliances, wall coverings and window dressings."

Our kitchens have not escaped the influences of our hi-tech world. Apart from the advances in appliances, there are other electrical products that are becoming must-haves.

"Some of the kitchens we design have built-in coffee machines and steamers for cooking.

"And equipment such as cooking fans and lighting can be remote-controlled."

"Tiling is being replaced by other wall coverings. Glass, stainless steel or plain paint for walls are alternatives to tiling," Mr Rodway added.

In terms of window dressing, blinds are replacing curtains as they are more practical and hygienic in the kitchen environment.

QUALITY DESIGN AND BUILD Established in the 1980s, Cotteswood's head office and kitchen showroom is in Station Road, Chipping Norton.

Here, every element of its kitchens, inspired by English country furniture, is exclusively designed and built for the client.

Whether freestanding or fitted, all the furniture is built to last by the skilled workshop team, a process that includes making every door with morticed and tenoned frames and the drawers are dovetail jointed for extra strength.

Each kitchen is fully assembled in the workshop and customers can view their design in the finishing department.

To the best of its knowledge the timber comes from forests that are well managed, the majority of the timber being supplied from Timbet in Oxford.

The showroom is open Monday to Thursday from 8.30am to 5pm.

Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm and Saturday 8.30am to 3pm. For more details call 01608 641858, or visit the website www.cotteswood.co.uk There is also another branch in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, 01494 434200.