What Makes Good Kitchen Design?
I’m sitting in my shed this morning, perusing kitchen designs…. and contemplating what actually does make a good kitchen?
I am no expert, not professing to be an expert…. I only know what has worked for me and my clients in the past.
When you think of kitchen design, what first comes to mind?… to me, before I consider the aesthetics, it’s the old ‘kitchen work triangle’ (stove/fridge/sink, positioned at three sides of a triangle). There’s heaps of opinion out there, about precise measurements of how far your sink, stove and fridge should be from each other. I sort of broke the golden rule of the triangle when I whacked my fridge in the pantry, along with all the other kitchen clutter (plates, glasses, food!)… but it worked for me.
My stove was opposite the sink… and well spaced (1.5m apart)… and the ‘work triangle’ was not a major thoroughfare in the house so that was the most important thing for me, in terms of working design. Trekking from the fridge into ‘the triangle’ was not really a trek and I considered that, when cooking a meal, I only went to the fridge once to get everything and once to put it all back… not a major limitation when it came to deciding to hide the fridge and not make it a feature of the kitchen or an integral part of the work triangle.
I think it is also important to consider, when designing your ‘work triangle’, how open appliance doors affect the flow through the triangle. I know what NOT to do, based on the townhome I am living in at the moment that’s for sure!! When the dishwasher door is open and the slide-out pantry cupboard is fully extended and someone is in the fridge hunting for something… everything comes to a standstill!!! Appliance doors, fridge door openings and entry doors should not interfere with the general flow through the work area.
Wrt the triangle thing, consider the work flow of how you like to work in your kitchen, where you chop your veges and like to prep your meals. Generally it is desirable to have the sink in the centre of the work triangle as that is generally where all the action is. I think allowing for bench space on either side of the sink and the stove is optimal. You can even plan your work flow right down to how you position large and small sinks wrt which sink is closest to the stove for draining and clean up….. and then consider the flow of clean crockery, from the rinse sink etc back into it’s storage compartments.
You can plan your work flow requirements by thinking about how you prepare a normal meal. Fresh ingredients from the fridge -where do you like to chop and peel them? where do you like to transfer ingredients into cookware? .. near the sink, near the stove? Is the sink close enough to the stove so that the journey with hot pots from the stove to the sink is not too far? Where do you like to plate up? …near the sink? ..near the stove? These are all the things I take into consideration when advising on kitchen design.
Consider also the positioning of the dishwasher. When it’s open for stacking or unstacking, is there enough standing space in front of the dishwasher for unpacking? Will the open dishwasher door clash with other cupboards you would like to have open at the same time for the ‘putting away’ process? Ugh! There is no space for standing in front of my dishwasher. It has to be a sideways unpack. Who designed my current joint?
In terms of overall streamlining kitchen design, I am a serious fan of cupboards meeting the ceiling or at least flush with a bulkhead. That space between cupboard tops and the ceiling is just a receptacle for dust. Streamlined to the ceiling cupboards so do it for me. I also am a sucker for undermount sinks where you can’t see the edges of the sink. It looks so much more polished and sleek and more upmarket.
A well designed island bench can make a kitchen, creates a central focal point, a central family meeting place and can provide a centred point around which symmetry can be built if that is the overall desired effect one one wants. If you can afford it, I think thick slabs of marble or composite stone or even concrete are the bomb! One of my recent clients incorporated an 80mm thick island bench top into her kitchen and it looks glorious! Heartstopping! Flaunt those benchtops!
I think choosing a neutral colour scheme overall creates a sense of calm and space and remains timeless. It is great to show off one’s flair with the splashback…. a place to add colour/ texture/ personality…. without dating the kitchen.
Dark tones can make such an impact but can be overwhelming in smaller spaces so they are best used to highlight feature areas… a bank of cabinets, an island bench, a dark floor in a overall neutral kitchen with dark accents to highlight. Bursts of brighter colours are best kept for feature areas… splashbacks, even accessories and furniture.
Last but not least, the lighting… the jewellery of the kitchen… the jewellery of the home for that matter. A mix of feature and well directed task lighting and you can’t go wrong. I’m a sucker for the ‘Rule Of Three’.. and you’ll most likely find me recommending the triplet of 3 decorative lights over an island bench, dimensions permitting. I could go on and on about door/drawer hardware too but my workday beckons and I would like you to have some input into my ponderings. Just for the record, the trend is to do away with door hardware these days, with invisible drawer pulls, etc… but I’m a lover of antique brass and antique silver knobs and pulls. I also think they bring some more ‘jewellery’ into the kitchen.
What do you think makes good kitchen design? What elements do you notice when realestalking that make you love a kitchen? Would love you to share.