We all want our kitchen to be both beautiful and functional. But, getting that balance just right is easier said than done. These days most of us don’t just use the kitchen for cooking, it’s the most versatile room in the home, working as a social area at the end of the day, the space we entertain when visitors come over, where we pay the bills and the kids do their homework in the evenings.
Because we use the kitchen so much, and for so many different things you may be worried that you won’t be able to optimise its design for each and every one of its many guises. But just follow these few secrets of kitchen design and you’ll see it’s not that hard, after all!
You don’t have to adhere to the ‘golden’ triangle
The concept of the work triangle has historically been lauded as the most important factor when it comes to laying out a kitchen. The philosophy of the idea is that your kitchen’s sink, oven, and fridge should be positioned so that three imaginary lines would form a triangle between the appliances, as this reduces the distances the cook needs to travel and improves efficiency speeding the whole process up.
However, that concept was designed in the late 1940s before the days of blenders, microwaves and dishwashers and honestly is these days a tad outdated. A better way to design your kitchen is to break it up into distinct zones for different activities e.g. a wash zone where you place the sink and dishwasher which is also close to your compost and recycling bins. A prep zone where you stick your chopping boards and knives etc. if you have the space then keep the social areas such as breakfast bars and any other seating distinct from these other zones to allow cooking and entertaining to happen at the same time without anyone getting in anyone else’s way.
Do not underestimate the importance of ventilation!
Often completely overlooked by home owners fixing up their kitchen, but doing so is a tremendous error. It doesn’t matter how nice your counters and floors are or how impressive your fancy new appliances. Without sufficient ventilation guests will evacuate your kitchen every time you turn the stove on as the room fills with smoke and steam. Over time as well a poorly ventilated kitchen will start to develop an unfortunate odour of stale food as the particles settle in the walls and woodwork. A decent well placed extractor can avoid all of these problems even in rooms with no windows.
Utilise your storage space to reduce your worktop clutter
The fact of the matter is, that most homeowners are not clever with their kitchen storage and end up cramming everything and anything into their kitchen cupboards. No matter how big or small your kitchen the chances are you could benefit from a few clever storage solutions. Using things like above head pan racks, shelves and magnetic strips for your utensils you can free up a huge amount of space on your work-tops and in your cupboards. Giving you more space to actually cook and prepare food on. You also won’t have to spend half of your cooking time looking for that pesky cheese grater.
As with any room, lighting is a vital consideration when designing your kitchen. Because of the plethora of different activities which typically go on in the average kitchen breaking the lighting up in different circuits is a good idea so you can tailor the lighting for what you’re doing in there.
You’re going to want to install both a set of bright ‘task’ lights for activities like cooking, cleaning and other housework. Task lighting works well when used for your overhead lights. And ambient lighting for when you’re entertaining or socialising in the kitchen, which should be off a dimmer, but warmer hue to create a more relaxed atmosphere – these work well as wall mounted lights. Under cabinet lighting can also make an impressive feature and is great for those times when you want to slink into the kitchen for a midnight snack, but don’t want to illuminate the entire kitchen just to make a late-night sandwich.