Friday, December 7, 2012

Planning a New Kitchen

Before starting anything else, kick off your kitchen remodel with a space plan. Picking out all the pretty things is the fun part, but function comes first — and that means deciding on a work flow and traffic plan that'll work for your lifestyle.

We talked with three architects to get their professional tips and tricks on how to plan a kitchen work flow that will work for you.

Deciding on the right layout for your kitchen is a personal decision — each individual or family uses the kitchen differently. Think about your work flow in terms of everyday function and social use.  Think about how you use your kitchen, how many people cook there at the same time, if your kitchen is also an entertaining or social space, and what your long- and short-term goals are for the kitchen.

After you've decided on your wish list, take a good look at what can actually fit into your kitchen. Some things, like islands, require a lot of space and just don't work in narrower spaces.  Refrigerators can only fit in certain areas, and the kitchen layout's relationship to windows and doors is also a big priority.

Thinking about your personal preferences — do you want an open or closed-off kitchen? While open kitchens have become trendy, a closed-off one can maximize wall storage and hide clutter after meals.

Focus on your sink when deciding on your work flow. The linchpin of the kitchen is the sink, that's where you spend the most time, and where it is most likely that you will want either a good view to the outside or a good connection to the social spaces in the house — or both.

Aim to have at least 18 inches of counter space on either side before putting in other appliances — with the exception of an under counter dishwasher, of course, which works perfectly right next to the sink.

I like to provide as long a counter as possible, but I find that 36 to 42 inches of workspace is workable. Don't forget to put counters around the refrigerator too, so there's room to set down items when raiding the fridge. Elbow room on either side of a range or cook top is important too.

Note your entrances and exits when determining your layout. Exits and entrances can really wreak havoc on an efficient layout.  We work hard to organize circulation to give a cook some dedicated workspace out of the general circulation flow.

I suggest making the walkway for a double-sided workspace a minimum of 4 feet wide — just avoid placing appliances directly across from each other to keep the pathway clear. For a single-sided workspace, stick to 3 feet minimum.

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