A beautiful kitchen is a fantastic thing to have, but only if it's also a functional kitchen! In fact, I've seen some amazing kitchen remodels in the past, only to be disappointed when I realized the kitchen's layout made no sense.
At the end of the day, it's more important for your kitchen to have good storage, comfortable cooking spaces, and useful appliances.
This article is the first installment in a series of articles about the kitchen. I'm choosing to focus on functionality and kitchen layout ideas first because I think that functionality is key to loving your kitchen space.
I can't stress this enough: if you're going to remodel your kitchen, it's important to work with a contractor or designer that understands how layout can affect functionality. This is even more important if you're someone who cooks a lot, or entertains frequently.
Life is too short to use a kitchen that's frustrating and cramped, right?
In this article, I'm going to go over the basics of kitchen design. I'll talk about how to design a kitchen, kitchen triangles, and what the kitchen triangle really has to do with the functionality of the kitchen. I'm also going to discuss storage options and kitchen features that make your kitchen a lovely place to spend your time.
What Is a Kitchen Triangle?
A kitchen triangle is a design concept that provides enough work space for food preparation, but not so much work space that it becomes unmanageable or inefficient. The triangle considers the placement of three main work areas: refrigerator, sink and stove. These features appear at each point of the triangle.
Each side of the triangle should measure no less than 4 feet and no more than 9 feet. So, the distances between the refrigerator, sink, and stove should fall into these ranges.
The perimeter of the triangle should be no more than 26 feet and no less than 13 feet.
There should be no kitchen table or other obstructions in the middle of the triangle.
If you want more information about how the kitchen triangle works, take a look at this Better Homes and Gardens article - it provides a very useful explanation of how to design a kitchen and how the kitchen triangle works. Setting up a triangle may sound easy, but if you're thinking about completely rearranging your kitchen to create a triangle, you should hire an experienced designer that understands how kitchen triangles work. It’s also important to consider when this can be modified based on the footprint of the kitchen.
How Much Counter Space?
One question that homeowners often ask me is, "How much counter space do I need?"
There's no firm answer to this, but I usually respond with at least enough counter space for two people to cook. Even if the kitchen is only used by one person most of the time, it's best to plan for two.
To ensure that your kitchen can be used by multiple people, the sink should be centrally located between the two workstations. Or better yet, install multiple sinks! If you're going to install a kitchen island, consider installing a task sink in the island so that each cook has access to one sink all their own.
What to Consider With Kitchen Layout Ideas
In addition to the kitchen triangle, there are a lot of other things to consider when designing a new, functional kitchen.
There are lots of different drawer types to consider. You don't have to install one of every drawer type in your kitchen, but instead, you should pick the type of drawers that will be most beneficial for your family.
Spice drawer. Ever had trouble finding the spices you needed when you needed them? I personally had trouble in my old kitchen finding spices on my Lazy Susan. The best solution is to install a spice drawer, so you can pull out your spices and look at them all at once.
Pull-out garbage area. Keep that icky garbage can hidden with a pull-out garbage drawer. This helps keep your kitchen floor uncluttered and also keeps smells hidden.
Pull-out stool. Ok, so this isn't a type of drawer, but it is convenient. If you have small children or just happen to be small yourself, a pull-out stool makes it easy to reach upper cabinets.
Cooking utensil drawer. A lot of people put their cooking utensils on their counter in big containers. This clutters the counters and can lead to your utensils getting dirty. I recommend using a dedicated cooking utensil drawer, so you can access your cooking utensils easily without keeping them out on the counter.
I'm just in love with pantries, especially pantries that have built-in cabinets and drawers to keep food organized. If you're installing a pantry in your kitchen, consider closed cabinets and drawers for that space, instead of open shelving. This will help keep your pantry looking organized and attractive.
Open Shelving Vs. Closed Storage
Open shelving has been popular for several years now. While I don't think there's anything wrong with open shelving, I think it's important to know what you're getting into when you install open shelving on your kitchen walls. Anything you place on your open shelving needs to be kept organized and cleaned, which can be tough in a kitchen environment.
Keep your open shelving away from your cooktop, or the things you place on your shelves may become greasy. In addition, anything you put on your open shelves should coordinate with the decor in your kitchen. Maybe you want to keep some dishes there - make sure they all match and look good in your kitchen. Open shelving is not a place to store your plastic tupperware and mismatched cups.
How Much Do You Use Your Kitchen?
When you're trying to decide how to decorate and re-organize your kitchen, it's important to ask yourself: how much do you use your kitchen? The more you use it, the more important it is to nail your kitchen's functionality and design.
Do you entertain a lot? Include seating for people who you'll be entertaining. Consider a multilevel bar at your kitchen island, so your guests can sit and talk while you're cooking their meal.
Do you prepare a lot of your own dishes from scratch? Buy an appropriately large refrigerator and install enough countertop space to make this possible.
Special Storage Options
There are so many storage options available, I'm going to come back to the topic of storage one more time, just to reiterate a few things:
Semi-custom cabinets (or better yet - fully custom) are so much better than stock. Stock cabinets are the kind of cabinets you get from Ikea or Home Depot. They're fine, but they're called stock because they have very limited options for customization. Semi-custom cabinets can be easily customized to your needs, so the cabinets you install will store what you actually keep in your kitchen.
Built-in options keep clutter off your counters. So many items can be built-in these days, from coffee makers to espresso makers, bread-storage areas, and more. Even microwaves come in a pull-out drawer style allowing for different placement options within the kitchen and cabinetry layout. I highly encourage you to seek built-in features to keep your kitchen attractive and clutter-free.
Want a Functional Kitchen? Contact a Professional Designer for Kitchen Layout Ideas
Are you wondering how to design your kitchen? Want a kitchen remodel but don't know where to get started? Contact me for advice on how to design a kitchen that will work for you!
Until next time,
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