Friday, August 19, 2011

Designing Kitchens for Cooks

It's not in a kitchen, but just look at me loving to cook!
I love to cook. For me it’s very therapeutic and allows me to share with my family and friends. So when I’m designing a kitchen for a client, cooking is first and foremost in my mind. It’s a rare situation to have a client tell me they don’t plan on actually cooking in their kitchen (it has happened ... and it kind of scared me!) so the functional aspects of a kitchen’s design are a pretty good place to start.

So what sort of things does a food-focussed designer consider when planning a kitchen? As with all projects, the specifics will depend on the individual. However, there are three areas I try to focus on: Social, Equipment and Cleanup.

Social – For me, cooking is first and foremost a social endeavour. It's about sharing food and my time with the people who matter most to me. This translates into kitchen design in many ways; seating in the kitchen, space to plate food for dinner parties, space to present food for buffets (or bars).

When considering the social spaces in the kitchen, I find it helpful to have some of these spaces serves more than one function. So a space that acts as an eating bar can also become a buffet when it’s time to eat.  And don't forget to allow for space to stand around and ... well, socialize.

Equipment – Whether I’m looking at 48” Pro-style ranges, an automatic espresso machine or where to put my knives, making sure all my equipment is conveniently positioned in the kitchen is paramount.

Locating the typical range, sink and fridge in your average kitchen may seem a simple task. But consider what you need when you’re using a specific piece of equipment. Is there a place to dump coffee grounds near the espresso machine? Is there a place to knead your dough near where you keep the KitchenAid mixer?

Cleanup – Nobody likes to think about this, but after you’ve just hosted 40 people for Thanksgiving dinner you’ll be glad you did. Clean-up is not just about where to locate the dishwasher. If you entertain often enough and have the room you may want to consider having a second dishwasher. Consider waste and compost near the clean-up area as well. And finally, I like to make sure there’s something for the person doing the clean up (AKA the dish-pig) to keep themselves entertained. As the person who usually did the clean-up at family functions when I was a kid, I can tell you with certainty, it will be appreciated.

Most of these examples come from personal experience, so the design considerations you’ll have for your own kitchen will be based on how you cook. Before meeting with your kitchen designer, take the time beforehand and make notes about how you use your kitchen and the type of cooking you like to do. Consider the items you’ll need to store and the work spaces you’ll need. That information will go a long way to creating a truly functional kitchen.


Michelle said...

great ideas Arne...I have those FPaykel drawer dishwashers, and love that you can run a small load...also, my dishes are in the pantry right on top, which works great.

Hope you are having a great weekend!!

Best, Michelle

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