How to make an extractor fan a stylish design feature in your kitchen - they're no longer just a practical eye-sore

Join the new wave of practical and stylish kitchens and learn how to turn an extractor fan into a design feature

kitchen
(Image credit: Future PLC / Brent Darby)

There’s no denying it, designing a kitchen is a big deal. There are more components to consider than in any other room. So, while it’s often the trickiest room to renovate as there are so many decisions to be made, a successful design is also the most rewarding.

One of the elements that you should consider right from the start of your planning process is your extractor fan. In years gone by, they have been a bulky and cumbersome addition. Essential and practice yes, but attractive, no. Thankfully, extractor fan design and technology have come a long way, and now some models have turned the humble extractor fan into a design feature in its own right.

Many new versions are sleek and good-looking so you don't have to think about how to hide an ugly extractor fan. But if you don't have the budget to invest in a new model, we've also found some smart budget kitchen ideas to uplift the extractor fan you already have. From adding a surround to painting your metalwork, you don’t need to fork out for a new model to introduce a new design feature to your space.

How to make an extractor fan a design feature

Your extractor fan really can be an attractive design feature than amplifies your kitchen. When choosing a design, it’s important to consider the size and the distance that it’s positioned from your hob.

Getting these elements right will, of course, make your space look in proportion and cohesive, but it will also ensure that your extractor fan works effectively.

kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Many extractor fans come in a metallic finish. A top tip from us before you delve into our ideas is to keep the finish of your cabinet handles, tap, lighting and fan the same, as this cohesion can tie your whole kitchen colour scheme together. Without further ado, these are the best ways to make your extractor fan a design feature.

1. Build a surround to frame your extractor fan

Yellow kitchen with wall panelling and a boxed in extractor fan over a hob

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you’re looking for traditional kitchen ideas, a built-in surround can create the ultimate focal point.

‘For clients who choose a range cooker we often create a feature of the extractor by designing a housing that becomes an added architectural element within the space,’ says Melissa Klink, creative director at Harvey Jones.

‘I always consider building a surround for extractor fans - being creative with the choice of shape and finish. This is another great way to really make a statement in the kitchen. For smaller spaces, a smaller hood with vertical panelling can create an attractive feature without overwhelming the space,’ says Claire Garner, creative director at Claire Garner Interiors.

If you’re blessed with a larger space, enhance this design feature further by incorporating an open shelf into the design. ‘Adding a shelf ledge is a great way to add personal accessories, art and recipe books,’ says Melissa.

2. Go for contrasting colours

White and navy kitchen with brass extractor fan over an induction hob

(Image credit: Future PLC / Joanna Henderson)

Move over stainless steel, extractor fans are now available in a wide range of colours. Perhaps the easiest way to make an extractor fan a design feature, choosing a bold shade that contrasts with the rest of your scheme is a sure way to draw the eye and create a statement.

Choosing one colourful piece like this can also make a small kitchen look bigger. ‘When you walk into a room and the eye can easily settle on a few colourful main elements, this works to make the space feel larger than it is,’ says Gwendoline Alderton of GA Interiors. A statement extractor fan will also draw the eye upwards, enhancing the feeling of height and space in the room – so it really is a win win.

If you’re existing extractor fan is functioning perfectly but you want to update the look, it’s possible to paint your extractor fan. Remove the fan from the wall and ensure it’s clean and sanded. Cover any areas you don’t want to paint with painter's tape, and spray on a primer and then two or three coats of your chosen shade. Always use a paint that’s especially for metal and suitable for high temperatures like V33 Renovation Radiator & appliance paint available at B&Q.

3. Layout is everything

Black and white kitchen with tiled splashback and extractor fan over a range cooker

(Image credit: Future PLC)

No matter how perfect your chosen extractor fan, if it’s not positioned in the right place, it will be less of a design feature and more of a barrier.

When planning your kitchen layout, you should consider your hob and extractor right from the start of the process.

As a duo that can take up a lot of visual space and height, a great way to create a feature of them is by positioning them centrally. This can be the centre of a wall or on an island, and then allow the rest of your design to fall into place around them.

If choosing an island hood, consider how it will impact your view both of and out of your kitchen. For example, you may not want to block the view of your garden from your living space, so position your hob accordingly.

4. Go central with an island hood

White kitchen with hidden extractor fan over the kitchen island induction hob

(Image credit: Future PLC / Douglas Gibb)

If your hob is on your island, an overhead extractor fan is the perfect opportunity to make a statement. Being the centre of the space and inherently fairly large, an island hood can make a real difference to how your space looks and feels, so consider it part of your kitchen island ideas, not an inconvenience.

‘For homeowners wanting to make their extractor fan into a statement feature, island hoods hanging from the ceiling are a great option. They’re available in many metallic colours from stainless steel and graphite to warm gold and brass, so they’re great for creating an industrial feel,’ says Molly Chandler, designer at Willis & Stone.

5. Choose a hanging hood for a contemporary twist

Black kitchen with hidden hanging extractor hood over a range cooker

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you’re looking for an unusual modern kitchen idea, you can choose a hood that doesn’t look like an extractor fan at all. Opt for a style that looks more like a contemporary pendant light, floating from wire from your ceiling.

The beauty of these designs is that they take up less visual space, allowing you to see through them and making your room feel more open and airy.

It may not come as a surprise that this is a more expensive option, but we have seen stylish options from Cookology on Amazon priced at £230. However, overall it’s an investment buy that’ll instantly make your kitchen feel sleek, luxurious and maybe even a little futuristic.

They are best suited over a kitchen island, but you can make a similar style work in small kitchen ideas by disguising parts of the extractor fan as shown above.

6. Put on a display with a 2-in-1 extractor fan and shelf

White kitchen with mable worktops and extractor hood that doubles as a shelf

(Image credit: Future PLC / Anna Stathaki)

Another modern and quirky way to make an extractor fan a design feature is to choose a design that makes space for a kitchen shelf idea.

You can choose to suspend a shelf and extractor fan from your ceiling above your kitchen island. This is a great option as you can display plants and accessories right in the centre of your room, creating a space that’s bursting with personality.

Alternatively, you can install a shelf with built-in extraction to your wall. From a distance, this appears to be a simple floating shelf, but step closer and you’ll find an extractor fan hidden beneath and buttons on the side to operate it. Again, you can use this to display plants, flowers or whatever takes your fancy, creating a sleek and subtle design feature.

7. Opt for statement tiles

Turquoise kitchen with grey tiled hood

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Another way to make an extractor fan a design feature is to cover your hood in a statement tile. If the walls of your hood are straight, rather than curved, this should be a fairly easy DIY job that’ll make a huge difference. Metro tiles are a classic that simply always works, but you could choose a fish scale or hexagon shape for extra oomph.

‘Tiling your extractor hood adds a unique architectural detail, drawing the eye to this part of the kitchen and enhancing it as a focal point,’ says Claire Garner at Claire Garner Interiors.

When tiling near your extractor fan, ensure to use a heat-resistant grout to ensure your tiles stay in place despite the steamy surroundings.

8. Match your extractor fan and oven

Silver extractor hood over a silver range cooker in a pink kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Unite your extractor fan and oven by choosing the same colour and style to form a clear focal point that puts cooking centre stage. ‘If opting for a standalone overhead extractor fan, it can be paired with a range oven and tied together with a carefully selected wall cover panel to create an altogether stand-out cooking station,’ says Freya Gibbons, senior kitchen designer and consultant at Husk.

Choosing a stand-out shade, such as red or yellow, for both your oven and fan, will create a clear centrepiece and talking point within your space, as well as making it feel cohesive and well thought through.

FAQs

What extractor fan do I need for a kitchen?

There are several key points to consider when deciding what extractor fan you need for your kitchen. ‘Selecting the correct model in terms of performance as well as aesthetic appeal is very important, especially if the kitchen design is open plan and includes sociable, living space,’ says Tom Hopper, kitchens manager at Miele.

An important element to keep in mind is the size of your hob and the size of your room, as this will determine what size and strength extractor fan you need. ‘Ensure that the extraction power of the fan matches the output of your hob,’ says Zoe White of Ray White Builders.

If your hob is on your island, an island hood is a great design feature. For smaller kitchen islands, a pendant-style fan will help to open up the space and make it feel bigger.

In an open-plan place, you should also consider how noisy your extractor fan will be, as there’s nothing more annoying than a loud extractor fan drowning out your favourite TV programme. Check for a decibel level of 55db or less for a calm and quiet atmosphere.

Rather than working against your extractor fan, work with it and we promise you'll be rewarded with not only a practical kitchen, but a seriously stylish one too.

Amelia Smith
Freelance Writer

Amelia has worked in interiors journalism and home styling since 2016. Having edited Real Homes magazine, and worked across titles including House Beautiful, Homes & Gardens and Gardening Etc, she has written about everything from the bricks and mortar of a renovation, to kitchen design and gardening know-how.