The right flow, and good ergonomics, are more important than ever now – create that great flow you have yourself a smart space, but get it wrong, you’ll be left feeling frustrated.
When designing a kitchen layout, the tried and tested ‘golden triangle’ has been the go-to but generally only works for smaller kitchens. The golden triangle refers to placing the three major appliances, usually the fridge, cooktop and sink, in a way that creates a triangle that allows you to access them in minimal steps. It’s meant to make your experience as easy as possible and thus the ideal kitchen layout. However, if you decide to include more appliances within the space, it’s best to reconsider this design method. A more effective way of designing or renovating your kitchen is to plan it around work zones. It’s fundamental that every kitchen have a prep, cooking and cleaning zone which will maximise your kitchen space in the most efficient way possible. Nowadays, we see a lot more open plan living, with kitchens being a part of the entertaining space and not an isolated room, so the golden triangle isn’t always feasible for the layout.
Not allowing enough circulation throughout your space can be detrimental. It’s essential to plan the right distance and space between your benches, fixtures and work zones otherwise you run the risk of either being too cramped with no-where to work, or constantly stretching trying to reach all your items. For your convenience, and to save you a design headache, install a layout app on your mobile device. Move around your appliances to see if they, firstly, fit, and work out a space that’s going to run smoothly. If in doubt, grab a measuring tape and recreate your space to see if it will work because seeing it visually can make all the difference!
Ergonomics refers to designing the kitchen and how you will use the kitchen to maximise efficiency and comfort. For example, storing your crockery near your dishwasher is more important than you think because it’s both ergonomic to your kitchen experience but also ergonomic for yourself. If you plan your kitchen, store your crockery on either side of the dishwasher, or at least, the same level as your dishwasher nearby. This guarantees swift and easy unloading saving your back from constantly bending up and down. Also try swapping some cupboards for drawers. Chef Massimo Mele mentions that “there’s always a need for ease and efficiency in the kitchen”. Drawers eliminate hiding items in the back which, eventually, is forgotten about. It’s easier and more practical to see all its contents at once.
A top tip is to install your dishwasher away from a corner cupboard. Opening your dishwasher next to a corner cupboard obstructs being able to open the cupboard whilst your unloading your dishwasher.
Also, avoid blocking parts of the kitchen so there’s always a continuous flow that’s accessible from all sides of your bench, especially if you have an island bench.
The kitchen is a space that you’ll spend a lot of time in and it deserves attention. Think about the overall design you want and don’t get too caught up in trends. Generally, there’s a 10-year lifespan on kitchen trends so it’s important to invest in classic and well-made products. Not only will it add value, but it stands the test of time. A good foundation is to design the best kitchen you can afford. That doesn’t necessarily mean buying all high-end market items. Before you spend all your budget on natural Italian marble benchtops, think about durability and maintenance. Think about how you will use the kitchen – that red wine stain might haunt you for years before you can afford to get it out.
Initiating a central point for your rubbish is a benefit you’d find you’d oversee. Reducing the points where trash can accumulate is the first step to creating a harmonious home. In terms of your kitchen, good fung shui is hiding your rubbish in pull-out cupboards or drawers especially near your sink to reaffirm those good ergonomics. If you can’t sacrifice a whole unit for a bin, whether it be because of budget or size, tuck your bin under a benchtop or keep it to the side. If there’s nowhere to hide your bins, choose containers that will work with your design palette, so they don’t become eyesores to your space.
Kitchen lighting is often overlooked, though it shouldn’t be. It’s important to be able to work comfortably and safely in an illuminated space, both during daylight and during the evening. LED recessed ceiling lights will add a generous amount of brightness and are flexible to incorporate in your design. Pendant or accent lights will add balance to your room and should also set the mood for entertaining. Make pedants and accent lighting work with your space and not just part of the décor. When planning your lighting, take the time to also define your power point locations for the electrician; ensure you include outlets where you will need them, for example, the side of your island.
Most importantly, create an inviting space. Nowadays, kitchens are the central hub of a home. Be proud to have guests come and see your kitchen. Wendy Rennie, of Haymes Paint, advises that the “key is to utilise materials in a way that embraces the intimacy and warmth…to ensure they feel like the heart of the home and not too overwhelming or stoic”. Utilise those key factors and you’ll have a kitchen space that has appropriate work zones, great ergonomics, perfect lighting and an award-worthy entertaining space.