Designing a kitchen sounds easy. Just make a list of things you need or want and then find space for them all. However, attempting it without proper knowledge is guaranteed to leave you with a space that is all but impossible to actually cook in.
Most people start designing the same way. They have a vague picture of what they want in their head and it centres around a particular colour scheme and some key appliances and features. Professional designers operate differently by starting with the kitchen layout.
The layout of your kitchen matters more than any other room in your house. The kitchen is a room defined by its function. That means that your experience within it is determined by how well those functions can be fulfilled. This comes down to your ability to move around the space easily and efficiently. The more items that lie within easy reach, the more functional your kitchen becomes. Professionals achieve this by considering the following:
Triangulate Your Work Space
A triangle has three points and the most important parts of the kitchen are the refrigerator, the stove and the sink. One item for each point. If these points are placed too far apart then moving around the kitchen starts to feel like running a marathon. Even though the distances are individually small, crossing them multiple times quickly adds up.
A well-designed kitchen makes moving between the three points easy and simple. There also needs to be enough space to allow two people can work side by side without colliding into one another. These distances usually work themselves out if a triangle is created between the sink, stove and refrigerator with the narrow, interior angle measuring between 15° and 25°.
Larger kitchens can improve upon this by making use of several triangles. The previously mentioned main triangle always needs to be there. When coming up with more triangles, the question to ask is “what other kinds of preparation will I be doing often?”. For example, a second triangle dedicated to baking would include the stove, the sink and the oven. For kitchens that are open-plan and border a living or dining area, the triangle consists of the seating area, general storage and a place to leave clothing like coats. The first two triangles share two points but the last is kept far away. Guests will visit all of those points at least once so it is vital that they keep their distance from the preparation area.
Give the Kitchen More Functions
Every house party spills over into the kitchen. To accommodate this, the modern kitchen has become a versatile space suitable for both practical applications and relaxation, often simultaneously. This is best achieved with an open design that is both inviting and practical. It is easiest to cook and entertain when you have a clear line of sight to your guests so you all feel like you are together and no-one is hidden away.
A kitchen island that includes seating is a wonderful solution to this particular design problem. So long as the seating is on the opposite side to the work triangles, there is no better place for people to mingle. It allows the host to be in the thick of things without having to neglect the guests or the food.
Do not Forget your Cupboards
Cupboards are often neglected. A common trap involves thinking that anything can be stored anywhere. However, just like with the work triangle, lack of forethought creates a lot of unnecessary work. Organise your items into categories and ask yourself which items are used together the most.
Next, figure out which items are required frequently and make sure they are in easy reach of the main work triangle. Think about each item’s unique characteristics. Spices often have to be read and checked so place them somewhere high enough that they can easily be seen. Little details make a huge usability difference.
It is even worth deciding where everything needs to go and then installing a bespoke cupboard system to suit. Trying to force a suboptimal layout to work for you is only going to result in a headache and a kitchen that does not live up to its full potential.
Start with a Floor Plan
A solid, well-thought-out plan reduces the total work time. Finish your plan before you even start talking with a contractor. Use any tool you like, there are several dedicated ones that do a lot of the work for you but even a rough sketch in MSPaint is better than nothing. The best part about drawing your ideas is it helps the brain naturally generate even better ones. Drawing is also vital to clear communication and remember, nothing designed is ever set in stone.