Renovating for Return: Kitchens
The kitchen has been thought of as the ‘heart of the home’ ever since homes, as we know them, have existed. It’s where we grab a quick and busy breakfast before school or work, have a fun and messy afternoon of baking, or enjoy the familiar banter of dinner-party preparations. The kitchen is where friends and family come together around the creation of our life-giving food.
Because of this, we need to think carefully when planning kitchen renovations. Three of the most important elements to consider are practicality, aesthetics and comfort. And the greatest of these is…
More than any other room in the home, a kitchen is designed for functionality. It’s where we cut, chop, grill, fry. Where we rinse, clean, wipe, dry. It’s where we whisk, blend, mix and pour; sit, stand, cook and more. Rhyming stanzas aside, there’s a lot that goes on in a kitchen and your design should account for all of it.
The first thing to be aware of is the use of space. You need space to store food, cutlery, glasses, crockery, pots and pans, cleaning materials and so on. It’s also necessary to have enough space for food preparation and cooking as well as cleaning. If possible, it is sensible to have seating – both for casual meals and for guests to sit while you’re preparing your feasts.
Even fairly compact kitchens can combine these requirements adequately, as seen in this Morningside Project example.
One can move easily between the various essential preparation, serving and cleaning areas and there’s also plenty of space for guests and family to relax in. Under-counter storage makes it easy to access implements and cleaning products.
However you choose to design the layout, make it easy to move around in and safe. Walking with hot dishes, sharp knives and breakable glassware should not be done in a domestic obstacle course. Having a central hob looks great and is practical from a cooking perspective but remember not to have seating so close that it presents a danger to others.
You also need to consider how easy your kitchen will be to use. Especially when custom-designing cabinets and cupboards, be sure to think about the height of surfaces and handles. For cutting, chopping, cooking and cleaning, waist-height is usually most comfortable. It may not always be possible to have large appliances at eye-level but it’s the most practical for those that are used often, such as ovens and dishwashers.
Also ensure there are lots of power points for smaller appliances such as blenders and juicers, coffee machines and kettles, toasters, microwave ovens and so on. There should also be enough light for safe and hygienic food preparation.
On that note, make sure the materials you use in your kitchen are easy to clean. Kitchens are home to more germs and bacterial than bathrooms, so surfaces should be smooth and consistent. Rugged blocks of wood and slatted tables may look good but can often trap dirt and old food and are difficult to keep ‘kitchen-clean’.
From a practical sense, these tips should help you get the most return on your kitchen renovation. Later instalments will look in more detail at other aspects of kitchen design but feel free to contact a Wanda Michelle Interiors consultant for further advice.