Many homeowners embarking on a kitchen remodeling project are excited about choosing from all the options for cabinets, appliances, and flooring. But before concentrating on color and style, the first consideration in a kitchen should be the functionality of the space. While these design details are important, they takes a back seat to usability when it comes to kitchens. The kitchen is the most-used room in a home, and if it doesn’t provide the needed functionality, it will be a source of constant frustration. There is a huge variety of kitchen units for sale, so plan for function first, and then add the style after.
The Work Triangle
The basis of the appealing, functional kitchen is a great workflow, created by combining the sink, the oven/stove and the refrigerator in a easy-to-access triangle. It should be simple to walk between these three work areas in a few steps, without having to move around other objects such as islands or carts. Additionally, the flow of household traffic should not go through any side of the triangle.
The rule of thumb on a work triangle is that each element should be within four and nine feet from each other. The complete triangle should be between 12 and 26 feet around the perimeter. Even in a large kitchen, the triangle should be relatively small. Put cabinets, extra storage, and family gathering spaces at the far end of the kitchen, and keep the work area fairly compact.
Food Storage and Preparation
In addition to a well-planned work triangle, include food storage areas that are convenient to one another. Think of walking into the kitchen with a load of groceries. Is it easy to get from the garage or front walk to the kitchen? When you enter the kitchen, could you place your grocery bags on the counter and have easy access to all storage areas?
Be sure to place the refrigerator and pantry close to one another, not on opposite ends of the kitchen. Avoid tucking food storage around the corner or in a hall. Ideally, a few, unobstructed steps will take the homeowner from the counter to the pantry and to the refrigerator.
A wide counter-top with enough area for chopping, mixing and sifting that is close to or between the sink and refrigerator will make food preparation simple. Consider storage for staples such as flour, sugar and spices in cabinets near that countertop space.
One of the primary complaints homeowners have about kitchens is inadequate storage space. One way to resolve this issue is to make the space available more usable. Consider cabinets with roll-out drawers and built-in organizers to make better use of what is available. Rather than a leaving space between the ceiling and cabinet top, install top cabinets for items that are not used in daily food preparation, but are nice to have on hand.
Pull out cabinets, available from some manufacturers, make small jars and bottles easy to access. A wall cupboard, built just the depth of the wall joists on a wall that would otherwise be too shallow for a cabinet, also provides space for items such as spices and sauces and makes them easily accessible.
If a kitchen design calls for a corner cabinet, consider a fold-out door and a corner shelf, changing difficult to access corner into a large, open storage area that can be used for crock pots, little-used appliances, and other bulky items.
So before jumping into the cabinet and appliance design of kitchen remodeling, plan for the functionality of the space and the storage. The resulting space will be both beautiful to look at and easy to work in, providing a winning combination for everyone in the household.