Kitchen Design Considerations for Renovations


Kitchen Design / Cooking Kitchen / Gathering Kitchen

What are the key elements of kitchen design? Everyone wants a modern kitchen, with the latest in new fangled gadgets and appliances. The kitchen is the most important room in the home, and the design of the modern day kitchen is changing as quickly as appliances advance and technology matures. Amid all the chaos of modern day kitchen design and every changing trends, what are the basic needs that a kitchen should satisfy? Once these needs are understood, then the proper selections can be made by the homeowner. The proper selection of cabinets, countertops, appliances, etc. can follow the basic needs of the family, occupying the kitchen.

Elements that should be considered when designing your new kitchen include functionality, ambience & aesthetics, comfort and creativity & drama.

Functionality

What are the basic functions of your new kitchen? Will the kitchen be used as a cooking kitchen with its main focus on the cooking of food and the preparation of meals? Or will the kitchen be an overall gathering kitchen for the family, in addition to an area for preparing the family meals? In describing the basic differences in design we will refer to two types of kitchens, the cooking kitchen as well as the gathering kitchen throughout this discussion.

If the functionality of the kitchen is basically for cooking and the preparation of family meals, then the positioning of the counter space and cabinets, the type of counters, as well as the number of sinks, dishwashers, and other professional accessories must be considered.

Counter space positioning

The counter space layout in a cooking kitchen is designed to provide efficient and functional counter space for the chef, and any other assistant, working within the kitchen. There is no room set aside for a spectator counter space, or space for the remainder of the family. In most cases, and dependent upon the individual needs of the primary chef of this kitchen, the working space in the kitchen is small enough to allow easy access to the primary counter space, without resulting in an overcrowded area.

If the kitchen is more of a gathering kitchen for the family, then the elements considered for a cooking kitchen must be somewhat modified, to allow comfort and convenience for all the family to enjoy their time within the kitchen space. In this case the overall layout of the counter space is positioned to still allow the primary cook within the kitchen, proper access to the working counters, with additional positioning of counters to allow sitting and working space for family members. This could result in an island assembly or a raised area of countertops, etc. Counter space is important to family members for a lay down area for newspapers, mail or just plain ” stuff “.

Cabinet selection and placement

The cooking kitchen will be best served, with a cabinet selection that is utilitarian and simple. For the cooking kitchen, the efficient placement of the cabinets for easy access is the most important aspect . In addition, the ability of the cabinets to withstand the constant opening and closing of the doors and drawers is essential to the proper functionality of the cooking kitchen. The proper cabinets, specifically designed for specialty dishes, pots and pans is essentially important to the ability of the chef within a cooking kitchen to function. The necessity to efficiently select the proper cooking utensils and accessories is extremely important within the cooking kitchen. The ability for the chef to find the accessories as well as the standard pots, pans and dishes within the kitchen, is essential to support an efficient working pace of an accomplished chef. It is for this reason that the layout of the cabinets as well as the types of cabinets are both functional and efficient. A cooking kitchen must be laid out and selections made, to satisfy the chef in the kitchen.

The gathering kitchen layout is based upon important social issues. The ability of this kitchen to absorb family and friends in a comfortable manner is the most important. The functionality in terms of pure cooking is a secondary consideration. The ability of the kitchen to comfortably sit the family as well as perform cooking for the home are the two primary requirements of the gathering kitchen.

Larger open areas, as well as islands with stools and accommodations for several people, would be considered important to the gathering kitchen. These accommodations are not as important within the cooking kitchen.

Appliances

This category is relatively straight forward when selecting appliances for the two types of kitchens.

The cooking kitchen in most cases, especially if the budget is substantial, will include the most expensive and technology advanced appliance that money can buy. In most cases the chef of the family will leverage the remainder of the family into spending whatever it takes to make the chef happy. There are appliances that have advanced to a point where technology is taking over. In addition, there is a competitive marketplace that exists, which causes the manufacturers of upper end kitchen appliances to offer more accessories and incentives to purchasers of their professional products.

In most situations the selection of gas for cooking is the preferred energy source for the cooking appliances. I hesitate to indicate that in all instances this is the preferred type of cooking, however, I believe you will find that the majority of professional or very serious amateurs prefer to use gas cooking appliances. In addition, there are several specialized appliances, such as heating drawers, special refrigeration units, etc. that are basically devoted to the more professional cooks, therefore are preferred in the cooking kitchen.

The gathering kitchen is not as critical, when it comes to the selection of the appliances. In most cases, the selection of a quality, well known appliances with a decent warranties is all that is required to satisfy the homeowners designing a gathering kitchen.

Special appliances such as custom coffee makers or tea pots will be added to the gathering kitchen. We personally have three different coffee makers in our gathering kitchen because we like coffee. In addition those who are interested in other beverages may decide to introduce a few beer taps into the kitchen design of a gathering kitchen. Visual monitors are also popular in the gathering kitchen. The opportunity to watch your favorite football team and drink your favorite beer may make the gathering kitchen the only room necessary in the entire household. Appliances selected for the gathering kitchen are much more for the entertainment of the cooking spectators, than the cook themselves.

 

Ambience / Aesthetics

Is the ambience and aesthetics of your kitchen the important element of the design and the creation of your new kitchen?

Counter space positioning

The counter space layout in a professional or cooking kitchen is designed to provide efficient and functional counter space for the chef and any assistant working within the kitchen. There is not a lot of concern relative to the style or ambience of the kitchen itself. The reason for the kitchen is functionality and the ability of the chef to efficiently and professionally create the meals. Therefore the counter space positioning is totally devoted to the working style of the chef within the kitchen. There will be no consideration for gathering islands or raised counter tops.

If the kitchen is more of a gathering space for the family then the elements considered for a cooking kitchen must be somewhat modified to allow comfort and convenience for all the family to enjoy and therefore the proper ambience. In this case the overall layout of the counter space is positioned to allow the primary cook within the kitchen proper access to the working counters, with the additional positioning of the counters to allow the sitting, or working of associated family members. This could result in an island assembly or a raised counter area. In this case the ambience and aesthetics of the kitchen is the primary focus, not the ease and efficiency of counter top and cabinet placement. The placement of a fireplace or wood stove in the kitchen will certainly add to the overall ambience of the kitchen.

Cabinet selection and placement

The cooking kitchen will be best served with a cabinet selection that is utilitarian and simple. The less detail and the simpler the design of the cabinets the better within a cooking kitchen. For the cooking kitchen, the efficient placement of the cabinets for easy access is the most important aspect . In addition the ability of the cabinets to withstand the constant opening and closing of the doors and drawers is essential to the proper functionality of the cooking kitchen. The proper cabinets set up for specific dishes, pots and pans is essential and ultimately important to the ability of the chef within a cooking kitchen to function. The chef is not interested in the look of the cabinets, the color or even the visual design of the cabinets. The necessity to efficiently select the proper cooking utensils and accessories is extremely important within the cooking kitchen. The ability for the chef to find the accessories as well as the standard pots, pans and dishes within the kitchen is essential to the efficient working pace of the typical accomplished chef. It is for this reason that the layout of the cabinets as well as the types of cabinets are both functional and efficiently laid out and selected to satisfy the chef in the kitchen. Once again the ambience and the overall look of the kitchen, aside from its functionality and ease of use is totally secondary within the professional cooking kitchen.

The gathering kitchen layout is based upon important social issues that involve visiting, discussing and family life.  The ability of this kitchen to absorb the family and friends in a comfortable manner is the most important aspect of this kitchen. The functionality in terms of pure cooking is a secondary consideration. The ability of the kitchen to comfortably sit the family as well as perform cooking for the home is the requirements of the gathering kitchen. In this regard, the ambience and the overall look of the kitchen is extremely important. If the function is gathering, then the overall impression of comfort and safety is important within this gathering kitchen. Functionality is secondary to comfort and hospitality within the gathering kitchen.

Larger open areas as well as islands with stools and accommodations for several people would be considered important to the gathering kitchen. These accommodations are not as important within the cooking kitchen.

Appliances

This category is not as important relative to ambience and aesthetics between the two different type kitchens.  

As stated previously, the cooking kitchen in most cases, especially if the budget is substantial, will include the most expensive and technology advanced appliance that money can buy. The importance of what the appliance may look like is not important and the aesthetics take a back seat to the functionality of the appliances.

In the gathering kitchen the ambience and aesthetics of the appliances is a little more critical.   In this type of kitchen the appliances should complement one another and at least match in color. In most cases, the selection of a quality, well known appliance, with a decent warranty is all that is required to satisfy the homeowners of a gathering kitchen. As long as they look like they blend together and are easy to operate, the selection of appliances for the gathering kitchen is not a difficult task.

 

Comfort

Counter space positioning

The counter space layout in a professional or cooking kitchen is designed to provide efficient and functional counter space for the chef and any assistant working within the kitchen. The comfort of the individual cooking is always a consideration, especially if the chef is spending a substantial portion of their day in the kitchen. However, functionality trumps comfort in a cooking kitchen. The proper positioning for function is not necessarily the best positioning for comfort. Function and efficiency for a cooking kitchen, not comfort and convenience.

The gathering kitchen space for the family needs to be comfortable. Comfort is probably the most important element of the many considerations regarding the kitchen design. Both the individuals cooking as well as gathering in the kitchen must be comfortable. The elements considered for a cooking kitchen must be substantially modified to allow the kitchen layout to offer both comfort and convenience for all the family to enjoy. In this case the overall layout of the counter space is positioned to allow the primary cook, within the kitchen, proper access to the working counters, with the additional positioning of the counters to allow the sitting, or working of associated family members or guests. This could possibly result in an island assembly or a raised area of the countertops, etc. Comfort within the gathering kitchen is of utmost importance and the need for comfort is essential if the kitchen is promoting gathering. Countertops should be positioned to allow the slouching of guests and family members with elbows and even resting heads will raise, the entire comfort level of the gathering kitchen.

Cabinet selection and placement

The cooking kitchen will be best served with a cabinet selection that is utilitarian and simple. The selection of the cabinets for any type of element of comfort is not considered. For the cooking kitchen, the efficient placement of the cabinets for easy access is the most important aspect and not the comfort of the users. If the two combine to provide both efficiency and functional use as well as comfort, then both goals have been met. In most situations, this is not the case. In addition the ability of the cabinets to withstand the constant opening and closing of the doors and drawers is essential to the proper functionality of the cooking kitchen and properly not as required in a simple gathering kitchen. In most instances the use of cabinets, therefore the hinges and other hardware is much less frequent in a gathering kitchen, than in a cooking kitchen. The proper cabinets designed for specific dishes, pots and pans is essentially important to the ability of the chef within a cooking kitchen to function. The necessity to efficiently select the proper cooking utensils and accessories is extremely important within the cooking kitchen. The ability for the chef to find the accessories as well as the standard pots, pans and dishes within the kitchen is essential to the efficient working pace of the typical accomplished chef. It is for this reason that the layout of the cabinets as well as the types of cabinets are both functional and efficiently laid out and selected to satisfy the chef in the kitchen for a cooking kitchen concept. Neither of these elements are overly important for a simple gathering kitchen.

The gathering kitchen layout is based upon important social issues. The ability of this kitchen to absorb the family and friends in a comfortable manner is the most important. The functionality in terms of pure cooking is a secondary consideration. The ability of the gathering kitchen to comfortably sit the family as well as perform cooking for the home is the requirements of the gathering kitchen.

Appliances

This category is relatively straight forward between the two types of kitchens.

The cooking kitchen in most cases, especially if the budget is substantial, will include the most expensive and technology advanced appliance that money can buy. A comfort consideration when selecting these appliances is not a priority. In most cases, if the appliances are efficient and usually top of the line in a cooking kitchen, then the comfort of using them is also positive.

The gathering kitchen is more critical when it comes to the selection of the appliances in regards to comfort. The appliances must be comfortable to use if the kitchen is primarily a gathering kitchen. If the appliances are anything but comfortable to use, they will not be used in the gathering kitchen. In most cases, the selection of a quality, well known appliance with a decent warranty is all that is required to satisfy the homeowners of a gathering kitchen.

 

Creativity / Drama

Counter space positioning

The counter space layout in a professional or cooking kitchen is designed to provide efficient and functional counter space for the chef and any assistant working within the kitchen. There is no reason for any creativity or drama in the counter space positioning within the cooking kitchen. The cooking kitchen is not dramatic nor creative, it is boring, usually white with stainless steel and with straight forward counter space layout. The drama is in the food being prepared and not the impression offered by the design or the layout of the kitchen.

The gathering kitchen can and should be dramatic and creative. This is the reason that individuals are drawn to the gathering kitchen for conversation and visiting. The more drama is conveyed the more enticing the conversation and the more people will want to gather in the space. Drama and creativity is especially important if there is no good chefs in the family. If the primary goal of the kitchen is to get individuals together, then any type of creative ambience will add to this allure of the kitchen.

Cabinet selection and placement

The cooking kitchen will be best served with a cabinet selection that is utilitarian and simple. There is really no reason for drama or creativity in the cooking kitchen. Although the kitchen will appear boring and sterile, the cooking kitchen will be functional and efficient. For the cooking kitchen, the efficient placement of the cabinets for easy access is the most important aspect and not the creativity. In addition the ability of the cabinets to withstand the constant opening and closing of the doors and drawers is essential to the proper functionality of the cooking kitchen. There is no drama in cabinet doors that are either broken or not functioning properly. The only real creativity that can be attributed to the cooking kitchen is any creative method of storing, hanging or displaying kitchen appliances or accessories that the chef uses. There might be some creativity with this, however drama will not be a prime consideration.

The gathering kitchen layout is based upon important social issues. The ability of this kitchen to absorb the family and friends in a comfortable manner is the most important and might be enhanced with some drama and creativity. Any functionality in terms of pure cooking is a secondary consideration, and with this in mind, the drama of the kitchen can be creatively developed. The ability of the kitchen to comfortably sit the family as well as perform cooking for the home is the requirements of the gathering kitchen, this ability will be interestingly amplified if drama and creativity is used in its design.

Larger open areas as well as islands with stools and accommodations for several people would be considered important to the gathering kitchen. Drama and creativity can be achieved in the gathering kitchen by such off the wall thoughts, as a basketball hoop mounted on the kitchen wall, a dart game alongside the refrigerator, a game table insignia etched into the countertops, a shuffle board game stenciled into the countertops, the ability to play ping pong on the gathering table, etc. It is this creativity that will create the space that all family members and visitors will love to gather in.

Appliances

This category is again relatively straight forward between the two types of kitchens.

The cooking kitchen in most cases, especially if the budget is substantial, will include the most expensive and technology advanced appliance that money can buy. Drama and creativity can be enhanced if the top of the line, overly technical appliances are selected. If the use of the appliances poses a dramatic effect on the participants in the kitchen, then this dramatic element will be accomplished within the cooking kitchen.

The gathering kitchen is not as dramatic or creative when it comes to the selection of the appliances. In most cases, the selection of a quality, well known appliance with a decent warranty is all that is required to satisfy the homeowners of a gathering kitchen. However, like the cooling kitchen if drama and creativity is what the goal of the gathering kitchen is, then appliances such as the beer taps or the overly expensive coffee makers can be selected.

Kitchen design and functionality is a primary concern for anyone constructing a new kitchen or renovating an existing kitchen. The design needs to match the function, and the importance of this match is paramount. There are large differences in the cooking kitchen and the gathering kitchen. Of course, like everything else, there are decrees of both types of kitchens. Each type does not have to be 100% of either one .

It is strongly urged that the proper professional kitchen designer be chosen to assist you in the final design and selection of all your kitchen elements. The quantity of kitchens that many of the most popular designers have completed will provide countless tales of successes and failures. It is important that these tales of kitchen design and construction are learned from.

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