Which room is the most important in your home? For me it’s the kitchen, I love to cook, love to have everything, including friends and family, close at hand. Clearly I enjoy a sociable lifestyle, for this reason, my kitchen is not only large and open, it’s also the center – literally – of my home.
The most important step in any project is turning your needs into a great design, we’re not just talking requirements and good looks. What makes you happy, how can a design fulfill your contentment?
Almost more than any other room, a kitchen needs to be well thought out, it requires practicality, must be aesthetically pleasing and should add real value to not only your life, but the value of your home ::::
The days of hiding a kitchen away – as a service area – are long gone, for many of us, the kitchen is not only the heart of our home, but the heart of our family, it’s where we meet up, a scattered morning breakfast or an end of day gathering, it’s usually the one room that the household gets together.
Your kitchen needs to be versatile, relaxed enough to cope with brisk, hurried traffic, and chilled enough for everyone to simply stop. For all these reasons, I’ve gone open plan in my kitchen.
1. Practicality is a must. Consider your family’s needs carefully before committing to a plan, know your resale expectations. Most buyers today are totally into open plan, making it a positive option.
Open plan isn’t the only option though, often knocking down walls is not on the cards. A functional layout is a must whichever way you go, theres nothing more frustrating than a kitchen that doesn’t work well. Remember, while you might get heaps of social plus’ from a wizzbang new kitchen, at the end of the day, you’ve got to be able to cook in it.
Most modern kitchens are designed on the tried and tested Kitchen Work Triangle, the sink, refrigerator and stove/range: see wiki below
- Food storage – Your refrigerator and pantry are the major items here. Cabinetry like lazy susan or swing-out pantry units add function and convenience. Options like wine racks, spice racks, and roll-out trays help to organize your groceries.
- The preparation/cooking station – Your range, oven, microwave, and smaller appliances are found in this area. Counter space is important in this section. Conserve space by moving appliances off the counter with appliance garage cabinets and space-saving ideas like towel rods and pot lid racks.
- The clean-up station – Everyone’s least favorite activity is one of the kitchen’s most important – clean-up. This area is home to the sink, waste disposal, and dishwasher. Cabinetry for this station is designed to organize with the trash bin cabinet and roll-out tray baskets for storage convenience.
If your anything like me, your kitchen is probably more than just a place to cook and eat. You may choose to include a breakfast bar, desk, bookshelves, computer station, a TV or whatever in your kitchen. My own kitchen opens onto a lounge area, with television and entertainment centre, then out to a decked outdoor zone.
2. Location, Location, Loc(got it?) If you plan to make your kitchen the heart of your home, choose a location that connects it with all the other major circulation points. Having your kitchen anchor your home’s great room or provide access to the garage through a mudroom or laundry room is a great way to achieve this.
Plan outdoor access. Again, this will depend on your home’s layout and spatial considerations, but it’s always great to place your kitchen adjacent to the outdoors. This will give you plenty of natural light (and an enviable kitchen sink window), and can also increase your entertaining space with an outdoor patio or dining area.
Above all, have fun, your kitchen should be about you. Don’t be afraid to incorporate personality into your design. Start simple, but don’t be afraid to choose what does it for you.
3. Surround Yourself in Storage. There are so many accessories and appliances available for modern kitchens, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and forget about storage. Don’t underestimate how much storage you’ll need for food, flatware and all the little gadgets you’re planning to stock up on.
My personal choice in layout is the galley, a shape offering the most efficient use of space. As well as being extremely versatile, the galley layout is in my mind the most social layout, allowing for an easy traffic flow, making it the choice of many professional chefs.
The two rows allow room for lots of preparation space, and moving between activity areas can be as easy as turning around. the shape lends well to both large open and confined corridor kitchens – image above – where space and layout is limited.
Make sure there is enough room for opposite drawers to be open at the same time. Another important consideration keeping the cleaning and cooking areas on the same side in order to minimize the risk of accidents while moving hot pans between the sink and range.
- Great for smaller kitchens
- Appliances are close to one another
- Easy for one cook to maneuver
- Easily converted to a U-Shape by closing off one end
Add an island if there’s room. Let’s face it, people love to hang out in the kitchen – especially when there’s something cooking – it’s a social hub. For families a kitchen island can help make the kitchen a space where everyone can gather and spend time. Space and kitchen layout will impact your island’s efficiency, so it’s not for everyone. My island doubles as a breakfast bar, and as I have no formal dining room, a place I tend to have solo meals at.
I must admit, even though I have a study, I tend to do a bunch of work – none food related – on my Island bench.
The truth is, great kitchen design is less about looks and more about how workability. Great design translates to a house that functions better, costs less to build and is more efficient to run and maintain.
I like to surround myself – in the kitchen – with wonderfilled ingredients, objects and amusements. However I don’t like clutter, everything is hidden away. Storage space is one of the more important aspects that’s overlooked – often because it is hidden away – getting clever with storage was one of the most fun things about renovating my kitchen, and that’s kind of the point, make your kitchen renovation fun!
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What is the Kitchen Work Triangle? The concept for the kitchen work triangle – KWT – was developed in the 1940s, a time when kitchens were very small and appliances were generally very large. The kitchen was looked at as a space where only cooking took place.
The KWT model was developed in the to address the efficiency of the kitchen space between the major work centers: Cooking (stove/range), Preparation (sink/dishwasher) and Food Storage (refrigerator). It was designed to maximize the efficiency of a one-cook kitchen that stemmed from Taylorist principles that had to do with time-motion studies from around the turn of the century. The University of Illinois School of Architecture developed the work triangle to emphasize cost reduction by standardizing construction.
As a general guideline, the distance between these areas should be no less than 1.2m/4 feet and no larger than 2.7m/9 feet. The sum of all three sides of the triangle should be between 4m/13 feet and 8m/26 feet. If the distance is too small, it can make a kitchen feel cramped and blocked. If it’s too large, it makes cooking a hassle. Also take into account any moveable hardware, trolleys and furniture, stools, trestles or fold outs.
- There should be no traffic flow cutting through the triangle.
- Place the microwave near the refrigerator for convenience
- Walk space should be 110cm/43-inches wide to account for traffic flow and clearance of large appliance doors or large relatives
- Counter space on either side of the range or cooktop should be a minimum of 40cm/16 inches
- An 45cm/18-inch counter should be adjacent to the fridge on the same side as the handle
- The food prep area – minimum counter space 100cm/39 inches – is ideally located between the fridge and the sink; If the food prep area is between the sink and the range or cooktop, it will involve more travel.
- A lower surface is best for food prep, measure 20cm/8 inches below your elbow height
- In two-cook kitchens, the fridge and range/cooktop are usually shared.
- Two triangles can share a leg, but shouldn’t overlap
- An island with a second sink creates at least one more triangle, and adapts to many uses: wet bar location, flower cutting and arranging, homework station etc.
HISTORY! Quite a few things have changed since the 1940s, when the concept originated. After the Second World War there was a housing shortage and the race was on for affordable housing. One person cooked, cleaned, ironed, and served the family meals. Smaller kitchen appliances were relatively rare and kitchen sizes were generally smaller than today. The kitchen was considered a working area, and planning considered mostly utilitarian angles.
Why should you think KWT? Even though it’s a 70-year-old rule, the work triangle is still something to keep in mind when you’re redesigning a kitchen. Keeping a certain amount of space between the main working areas makes cooking much easier and helps keep traffic in the workspace to a minimum.
1. Think about how well you get around in your current kitchen. What frustrates you in your kitchen? What causes problems while you’re working? What could be added or removed with few changes and a limited budget? Thinking about what bothers you the most will help you figure out how to organize your kitchen workspaces within the triangle format.
At the time the kitchen work triangle was created there was no space for decoration or entertaining in the kitchen. Now, kitchens are much larger. They’ve become the hub of the home and often share space with dining and living rooms for easy entertaining.
If you’re redesigning a kitchen, odds are you’ll need to take entertaining, eating and doing homework into account. By keeping your main cooking areas confined to one part of the kitchen, you’ll be able to make use of other spaces without any conflicts.
2. Measure your current KWT. Think about how much you’d need to add or take away for it to work more efficiently. Keep in mind that the lengths of the triangle don’t have to be completely even. The shape of your triangle will differ depending on what kind of kitchen shape you have.
Besides the recommended distance between the points of the work triangle, the most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure that the lines of the triangle aren’t blocked by anything. Trash cans, islands and other kitchen necessities in the wrong place can end up making cooking harder.
HISTORY! The original functions described with the kitchen triangle still exist within the modern-day kitchen. However, technologies (like microwaves and other appliances) and the way kitchens fit into the modern (Western) lifestyle have changed. Many kitchens have grown to accommodate more than one cook, so cooking zones were developed that are similar to the layout and zoning of commercial kitchens.
HISTORY! With the housing boom and the expanding wealth of the Baby Boomers, the size of kitchens in the United States has expanded. This allows for commercial style appliances, and zones for various functions that were outside of the traditional triangle, such as prep stations that might include another smaller sink, and bake centers that had areas specifically for rolling out dough and baking that were separate from the main cooking appliances and food prep areas. These additional zones might overlap in terms of sharing components and create secondary triangles.
3. Take additional functions into account when determining your work triangle. Because so many modern kitchens have become multipurpose rooms, it’s important to really think about what functions you want your kitchen to serve. Determining whether you want a desk, homework place, bar, large island, multiple sinks and so on can help you figure out exactly how to position your work triangle.
Adequate prep space is often forgotten because it’s not explicitly included in the work triangle equation. It’s usually a good idea to have one prep space near the sink and one near the stove. Put utensils, pots and spices near the stove for easy cooking, it’ll save additional steps.
HISTORY! In the early ’90s, the National Kitchen and Bath Association introduced the multiple rectangle concept – the idea being where the microwave or separate ovens were considered a fourth or fifth element, taking into account families who didn’t always eat together and the assumption that there might be multiple cooks. It never caught on – partly because of insufficient PR and partly due to too much flexibility in deciding what the four corners of the rectangle actually were.
A later concept is that of kitchen zones. In this layout, the proportions of the triangle are no more an ergonomic requirement. There are usually four zones present: food preparation, baking, cooking, and cleaning.
NOTE: Scientific management, also called Taylorism, was a theory of management that analyzed and synthesized workflows. Its main objective was improving economic efficiency, especially labor productivity. It was one of the earliest attempts to apply science to the engineering of processes and to management.
Its development began with Frederick Winslow Taylor in the 1880s and 1890s within the manufacturing industries. Its peak of influence came in the 1910s; by the 1920s, it was still influential but had begun an era of competition and syncretism with opposing or complementary ideas.
Although scientific management as a distinct theory or school of thought was obsolete by the 1930s, most of its themes are still important parts of industrial engineering and management today. These include analysis; synthesis; logic; rationality; empiricism; work ethic; efficiency and elimination of waste; standardization of best practices; disdain for tradition preserved merely for its own sake or to protect the social status of particular workers with particular skill sets; the transformation of craft production into mass production; and knowledge transfer between workers and from workers into tools, processes, and documentation.
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