There are many places within a home where one could cut corners here, and make some more budget-minded choices there… but the kitchen is NOT one of those!! The kitchen is the shining star at the center of every home, and often plays a role in every activity, every guest experience in addition to every meal. Here are some ways to ensure that your kitchen serves you and your family well in the ways that mean the most:
The kitchen “work triangle” rule used to be this: that your stovetop, sink and refrigerator should be placed in the three corners of a triangle for easy access. That may still work for many people, but I like to focus on a working footprint that serves the user of the space best, regardless of the shape. If you enjoy cooking as a family, you might need more space around the sink or require an additional island for helping hands and guests. The footprint requirements would then change for those who cook alone, or as a couple. Your ideal footprint changes depending on how you use the space, so there is no right answer for how a kitchen is used. A designer can really help you think through how you will use the space best and be able to help you create one that serves your needs.
I’m a Fan of a Plan
Other considerations to make when planning a kitchen layout is traffic control. If you are in the kitchen preparing meals, do you need to keep an eye on homework being done at the island, or on little ones playing in the yard? Do small residents need easy drawer access to cups, or if you’re loading the dishwasher, might the fridge be blocked by its open door? Does your kitchen need access to your backyard entertaining area? Does the kitchen also serve as a gathering place for conversation? Game nights? Hang outs? Is it a central station for mail? work? papers? technology? pets? the family calendar? The better you understand how you use your space and how many functions your kitchen must perform, the better you can create a design that will serve you best day to day.
Now You See Me, Now You Don’t
Once a plan is in place, don’t forget to think about what you want to see in your kitchen versus what you want hidden. Firstly, workable lighting is essential in your well-designed kitchen space. Ask yourself about placement; you want good general lighting as well as focused task lighting, usually over the sink and over the islands. Lighting is something that should focus the attention on the work at hand while also taking the opportunity to show a little personality and sparkle. Well-chosen lighting will do both in a way that adds functionality AND drama in your kitchen space. Outlets are another way to increase functionality in a kitchen space, but their appearance is not as lovely to behold as the other details in your kitchen. Outlets can also interrupt your backsplash and other surface areas interfering with your beautiful tile or stonework, so I often camouflage plugs using pop-ups in countertops, using mounted power strips hidden on the underside of the upper cabinetry, or painting them the same color as the surrounding space. Another detail I prefer to hide is the family microwave. While most families consider this an essential appliance, it is often the most unattractive and most easily dirtied, so I prefer to place it close by in the pantry or at the very least, as a drawer in the island. Hiding pet bowls, cooking utensils, etc may be preferences you have that should be kept in mind when planning out a kitchen space.
It’s Getting Hot in Here
Appliances are made to make life easier, and there are so many that also make life more beautiful. Many features and finishes are created with the discerning customer in mind, and gone are the days of the one color, one model mindset. There are many companies (some linked here) where you can customize your preferences for look and style without sacrificing quality or function. Do some research and you will find steam ovens, speed ovens (which also function as a microwave!) espresso machines, ice makers that make nugget, clear or craft ice, and ranges that include griddles, grills and woks in colors and finishes that are on trend, manufactured by both international companies as well as national names we’ve known and loved for years.
Planning is key to a beautiful, functional kitchen. I use these suggestions when helping clients create a kitchen they love and you can, too!