Kitchens have become a central gathering point of our homes. This is a place where we cook, supervise homework, take care of the bills and entertain family and friends. Our kitchen designs have been driven by changes in our lifestyles. A kitchen must go beyond just looking good – it must incorporate ergonomic and workflow considerations. To perform all tasks in your kitchen successfully, it is important that your kitchen is well-planned, organized and maximizes all usable space. A good kitchen plan is focused on the kitchen user, functionality, workflow throughout the kitchen and improved utilization of storage. You want to make sure that you dream kitchen is fully optimized for your specific needs and wants.
Design your kitchen to your needs and wants
Your answers to the questions below will help you identify your lifestyle and how you use your kitchen, which is the first step in creating a kitchen that is functional and organized.
- Who cooks? (You? Your spouse? Both of you?)
- How many cooks? (How many at any one time.)
- What meals are prepared? (Breakfast, lunch and/or dinner?)
- How do you cook? (Grilling, pan frying, baking, etc.)
- How often do you cook?
- Do you entertain? (How often and how many people at a time)
- What other activities take place in your kitchen? (Homework, laundry, eating, etc.)
- Do you need to accommodate someone with a disability?
Create an optimized layout
To optimize the layout of your kitchen, you need to look at the functionality and workflow. Is there enough area for prepping food? During meal prep, can utensils, spices and chopping boards be reached effortlessly? How does each task in the kitchen relate with the next task to be executed? Think of your kitchen as a series of working areas where different activities take place, then group these areas in relation to each other to help create workflow efficiency. Start by dividing your kitchen into five areas.
- Consumable area: food that will be cooked or baked and stored in cabinets, refrigerator and freezer.
- Non-perishable area: items used on a daily basis, such as utensils, cutlery, dishes and glasses.
- Cleaning area: sink, garbage bin, dishwasher and cleaning materials.
- Preparation area: all food is prepared in this area.
- Cooking area: cooking/baking is done here with the use of the cooktop, oven, microwave and range hood.
This allows you to allocate space according to how you use your kitchen. For example, the preparation area should be ideally located between the sink and the stove. This affords access to water during preparation, a convenient distance to the waste bin for removal of food scraps and easy access to the cooking areas. It really does not matter what the shape of your kitchen is – each area must correctly relate to its neighboring activity area.
Achieving efficient storage
The kitchen of your dreams should not just look good, but should also increase storage space and dramatically add to the functional workflow. This has to do with not just the finite amount of space available, but also accounts for how the space is organized in relation to workflow.
Consider ergonomics in setting up your storage. Frequently used items should be stored at a convenient height: in the upper levels of base cabinets and the lower levels of overhead wall cabinets. Items used less frequently should be stored either slightly above or below the regularly used items. Those that are used infrequently should be stored on the top shelves of upper cabinets or the lowest level of base cabinets.
Avoid fixed shelves in base cabinets, as they make getting items difficult. You will often have to bend down or stretch to find what you are looking for. Think about using drawers or deep pull out shelves in lower cabinets, as these will allow you to see and access desired items quickly and with ease. Efficient storage is achieved by converting the available space into usable and accessible storage.
Before you pick appliances, finishes and cabinet styles, remember that how your kitchen functions will affect your ability to enjoy the space. Does your dream kitchen have enough storage? Does the layout take into account the workflow? Will your kitchen design meet your ergonomic requirements, avoiding excessive bending or stretching?
All of these elements need to be well thought out beforehand. By identifying your specific needs and wants before starting your kitchen remodel, you will be able to communicate these to your interior designer who can then help to navigate you to the kitchen of your dreams.