Contemporary kitchen designs: transform your kitchen into a multipurpose masterpiece
By Paul Benton
If you were to consider which room is most central to the home, chances are the kitchen would be at the top of your list. The kitchen is where everyone meets and everything gets done: where kids study and neighbors gather, where we leave notes for one another, where we eat and cook and celebrate. It follows that the best contemporary kitchen designs keep these uses in mind. After all, the kitchen is a warm and friendly place; but it is also a highly functional environment where we do everything from preparing food to answering telephone calls. It’s where the drinks and snacks are, and for years it was probably where the landline phone was connected (kids, ask your parents what that is). And don’t forget that food preparation is a great activity for family and guests to join in – so it is important to plan for everybody!
From an architectural perspective, it helps to view kitchen design on different levels that reflect these varying uses. By dividing the space by necessary functions and related appliances, it is possible to create a streamlined yet multipurpose environment – all while maintaining the personal touch that makes every house a home.
Elements of kitchen organization: a road map for smart design
When designing a kitchen, we have to consider the three principal areas: the refrigerator and food storage, the range for cooking and the sink. In between these areas are the counters that serve as preparation surfaces. Each of these principal areas should have plenty of preparation areas on at least one side, if not both. The actual work being done here will change depending on the time of day, who is at home, volume of guests and so forth. Nevertheless, there is always going to be some connection between these areas.
Next, we look at the secondary functions of the kitchen. For food storage, an example of this would be the pantry. The pantry could be across the room, and we find that the design of a pantry is a wonderful place to start setting the overall design theme. If we look at it as a special room just for the kitchen, it becomes a kind of hideaway or nook away from the rest of the home.
For the cooking sequence, we think of the areas for extended preparation before cooking and for the placement of hot items after or during cooking. Examples might include space for rolling dough or stacking and laying out items. I personally think that more preparation space is needed for the cooking area than any other (but that may be because I have a lot of experience with burning things and knocking things over). The cooking area should have its own design as well: the sculptural quality of the range and the hood, the fire-resistant tile surfaces and the tools close-at-hand give the feeling that the cook is in control of heat and the forces of the range, and that the delicate timing of the work will lead to a culinary masterpiece.
Finally, we come to the sink area, where everything from washing of food to cleaning and stacking of dishes takes place. From a design perspective, it can be helpful to picture the meal cycle where the food and all serving materials pass by the sink throughout the day, right to the end when the last plate goes in the dishwasher after supper.
In each zone of the kitchen, careful separation of surface areas not only makes for safe and accessible food preparation, but also an overall sense of effortlessness for a pleasurable cooking experience.
Creating the kitchen of your dreams
At Alcorn & Benton Architects, it is our job to think out the organizational challenges of kitchen design and get the details right. All you have to do is tell us what you want – and we’ll create a wonderful kitchen that suits your needs. To learn more, visit us online: www.alcornbenton.com.
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