The FUNCTIONAL Beauty of Design
Good kitchen design is not simply having the right things in the right places to make a meal. Good kitchen design has a way of integrating function and form into a final product that feels right for working in or just relaxing in with family and friends. While a kitchen must be tailored to each family’s own needs, there are some universal principles which should be followed when setting out to design a kitchen that will work for multiple purposes for years to come.
Most rooms in a house are going to utilize overhead lighting. Unfortunately, kitchens typically require a little bit more than that. The light should fall in front of you rather than behind you. Anyone who has ever tried to work in a space where their body is casting a shadow over their work space understands this. Consider those areas where you may need additional lighting shining directly onto the countertops and other work areas. Consider options such as pot lights, pendants or under the cabinet lighting.
STORAGE SPACE Pots, pans, utensils, spices—you will likely be storing more things and tools in your kitchen than anywhere else in your home. Consider your work zones. Where and when do you most commonly work? This will help prevent issues like your spice rack ending up on the opposite side of the kitchen from where you usually bake and cook.
APPLIANCES When you are designing a new kitchen, it is the ideal time to buy new appliances. That said, if it is not in your current budget or things are in good working order and you do not wish to replace them, try to keep in mind the size of newer appliances. This is so that in the future when you do purchase new appliances, they will fit without a struggle. For instance, newer fridges are often taller and larger, and nothing is worse then buying a new fridge after having a new kitchen recently put in, only to have it not fit the space. Building in a frame around the existing fridge completes the design and can be easily modified to accommodate larger appliances down the road.
CONSIDER SAFETY Good visibility, nonslip surfaces, proper ventilation, rounded countertops, and more—everything should be considered when it comes to safety. It is essential to keep in mind that the kitchen is a unique space in the house, and safety is always paramount. For example, if you have small children, consider the dangers of having a cooktop in the island where they will sit for breakfast. Are you someone who has mobility issues? Make sure there is enough room for a wheelchair or walker to pass through your kitchen in the future.
TRASH, RECYCLING AND COMPOST Refuse comes in all shapes and sizes. Do you want your trash and recycling bins to be out in the open, or would you rather them hidden inside a lower cabinet? Don’t forget about compost as well. Something else to consider is size. Do you have a large family who will fill a small bin in a day? Then perhaps opting for one large bin is a better choice for you rather than having a garbage bin and a recycling bin which need to be emptied frequently.
FLOORING There is a reason slip-resistant tile and other hard flooring are typically used in kitchens. Hardwood may look beautiful, but imagine what happens to it when you begin spilling things and wear starts to set in. After all, this is likely the floor to see the most hard use and require the most maintenance in the entire house. There are many great new products—such as luxury vinyl tile—that are ideal for the wear and tear of a kitchen, come in various styles, can look like hardwood or tile, but are much easier to live with and maintain.
EASE OF MOVEMENT People are like water; they will take the path of least resistance. Consider how traffic might flow into and out of the kitchen from various rooms and how people may move through the space. For example, does placing a peninsula in the kitchen cut off an entrance point? Perhaps in that instance, an island is a better option.
CONSIDER YOUR FUTURE NEEDS When setting out to design your kitchen, consider not only the situation you are currently in but also the one that you may be in later. Do you plan to have friends and family visiting on a regular basis? Is your family going to grow? Will you be preparing larger meals? Considering these questions in advance will save you from costly adjustments in a few years when your situation may change.