Rules of Kitchen Design (Part 1)

Kitchens: Everyone has one, but what is done with it and what is expected of it varies madly from one person to the next.

For some, the kitchen is a refuge; a place to claim sanctuary from marauding offspring while sipping champagne and creating culinary delights.

For others it is the modern equivalent to the pre-historic bonfire – a gathering place to eat meat, insult each other, and find out why Beaver is flunking science.

No longer just for cooking, cleaning and the odd late night tipple, the kitchen has mutated into an uber-room, suited for entertaining, dining and plain old living.

If your idea of an impeccable kitchen is the latter, then this first piece of sagely advice applies to you:

Gib’s Rule of Kitchen Design #1:

“You don’t just cook in it”:

No longer just for cooking, cleaning and the odd late night tipple, the kitchen has mutated into an uber-room, suited for entertaining, dining and plain old living.

With this in mind, ask yourself: What will you and your family do in your kitchen?

Will you entertain? If so, some of your uncultured guests will undoubtedly arrive early chomping at the bit for vittles. Enter – the Island! Instead of them drooling as if you yourself were covered in fava beans you can lead them to the cleverly placed island which has a convenient overhang complete with stylish stools and a spread of tasty hors d-oeuvres. This way you can work the range from the safe side of town while they sip their Chianti, chat with you and stay the heck out of the way.

If you live in your kitchen, you can combine it with the dining/living room for that hip urban loft-look that the chic and trendy ones love so much. Add a comfy love seat and TV in one corner so that when your recipe fails miserably you need only relax on the sofa, flip the channel and let the Food Network come to the rescue.

Just be sure to remember that the overall layout should allow traffic to pass through each corridor without the danger of bum-brushing pointy counter corners. If you and your partner can’t do a twirl, the aisle is too tight.

Gib’s Rule of Kitchen Design #2:

“You can’t have enough storage.”

Remember the last time you moved? Ok, so maybe it’s a fog of pain, cursing, and alcohol, but I’m certain of one thing – you had 150 times more stuff than you thought you had. You may be losing sleep not knowing where to put grandma’s preserving kettle only to find out that the fondue set and oyster forks are screaming for shelter.

Varied storage shall be your salvation – drawers of different sizes, hidden pull-outs, cupboards with adjustable shelving, and the list goes on. If you depend on large open spaces to solve all your storage problems remember this: there was a reason the dish ran away with the spoon.

The latest trend is to place your possessions on display, restaurant style, adding to the character of your kitchen. This is great if, like me, you’re displaying your priceless collection of Faberge eggs, but less so if half-eaten Doritos and pizza boxes are your idea of “life-style propping”. And since life without junk-food is but a paupers play, hidden storage is a must.

This storage doesn’t have to be limited to fixed cabinetry – you can benefit greatly from the European trend of free standing cabinets. These cabinets are full-on pieces of furniture – they are sturdy, provide a unique aesthetic effect, and can be moved when small children and pets fall behind. They also give you much more freedom in altering your kitchen at a later date with the added bonus of actually bringing it with you when you move. Oh those Europeans are just so clever.

Gib’s Rule of Kitchen Design #3:

“Triangles suck”

The classic design rule for kitchens of yore was the “work triangle” From Henry VIII to Betty Crocker the ideal situation seemed to be the ease of movement from fridge to preparation area to stove. Like most commercial propaganda, this was based on little other then stuffing the pockets of the cabinet makers. This antiquated system has now been cast aside for ideas that better suit our brave new world.

The newest design revolution takes its inspiration from professional kitchens. The area is divided into stations, each based around a specific function. You define each station and its purpose – chopping, cooking, baking, and meat preparation are common candidates. If you have a “cake icing” station you clearly have too much time on your hands.


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