Great Function and Beautiful Design…

Great Function and Beautiful Design…

…How Can You Have Both?

As a kitchen designer it’s not uncommon for us to come across proposed plans for kitchens that completely miss the mark when it comes to design functionality.   Whether it’s a homeowner that’s trying to work something into their kitchen plan that they thought looked cool on Pinterest, or the architect quickly placed the cabinets to meet the minimum kitchen plan requirements, we see a lot of kitchen designs that need our help.  In an ideal kitchen, you’ll have the perfect marriage of both a kitchen that is beautiful to look at and highly functional to live and cook in.

What Were They Thinking?

Have you ever seen a beautiful kitchen and then went to open a cabinet and realized you can’t open it without hitting the stove?  Or what about that corner you want to prepare food in, but when you stand there, you block access to the dishwasher?

The thing is, function is just as important as the aesthetic design of the kitchen. The last thing anyone wants is a nice looking space that’s frustrating to work in.  I see this all the time when I’m designing kitchens.  Often I get plans that are already drawn up and whoever laid out the original kitchen isn’t thinking “off the page” and creates a completely dysfunctional space.

Here are just a few of the functional issues I’ve seen:

  • Walkways that are drawn at only 24 inches wide…Minimum is 36 inches!  We suggest 42 – 48 inches whenever possible.
  • Countertops with inadequate space on either side of the stove…imagine how frustrating it would be to set your pan on a stove and have the pan handle banging into a wall because of lack of space!  Believe it or not, I’ve seen it drawn way.
  • An island or peninsula that is not deep enough for the sink or cooktop that’s placed into it.   What’s the point of a breakfast bar if you there is not enough space for your plate without getting splashed with water from the sink or splattered with oil from the cooktop?!

The list goes on and on…

Poorly functioning kitchens are everywhere and the key is working with a kitchen designer that knows how to take a 2D idea and translate it into a functional 3D space for you.

What About the Kitchen Work Triangle?

You’ve probably heard about the kitchen work triangle?  The theory that the sink, refrigerator, and stove should be placed so you have a kind of triangle of activity in your kitchen.   This work triangle idea originated in 1940’s kitchen design and is still a gold standard in function for today, but it has evolved as our kitchen’s are much larger than most were in the 1940’s.  So the stringent work triangle rules that applied to the kitchens of yesteryear have become a much looser concept of creating the ideal work zones in today’s modern kitchens.

Here are just a few practical suggestions when designing the layout of your kitchen:

  • If at all possible, go for wider than the minimum 36” inch walkway space or you’ll feel cramped.  A more comfortable and open feel for walkways is 40-48”.
  • For appliances it might help to remember that epic movie line from Dirty Dancing, “No one puts Baby in a corner!”  Consider all of your appliances to be “Baby” and keep them spaciously away from corners to prevent conflicts when the appliance doors are open and avoid major jams in your workflow.
  • Like the idea of a breakfast bar?  Be sure if a cook surface or range is in the island or peninsula that counter tops are 46 inches or deeper, front to back.

Of course, those are just a few ideas to think of.  Ultimately, it makes sense to use a kitchen designer that’s put together hundreds of designs and understands what it takes to make a space look good and work right!

Kitchens Aren’t the Only Spaces That Can Be Dysfunctional

I see function mistakes being made in laundry rooms and bathrooms too.  In laundry rooms the washer/dryer placement needs to be at least 30” from a corner or you’ll have a lot of trouble reaching into the cabinet that is next to the appliance.  If space permits it’s better to have the washer/dryer on a separate wall than the cabinets and counters.

And although many people love the idea of a double sink vanity, when someone attempts to squeeze duel sinks into a vanity that is less that 60” …you better really like the person your sharing the space with!  If the space is not wide enough, double sinks eliminate virtually all counter space and leave no room for drawer banks.

The bottom line: It takes a lot of space planning and visualization to create kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms that are as functional as they are beautiful.  Make sure your space will translate off the blueprint and into your busy life by using an experienced cabinetry design professional to help.

Joel Cohen is a professional kitchen designer with over 500 completed/installed projects. Hampton Hill LLC supplies high quality cabinets at wholesale prices to contractors, designers, and homeowners in Bend, Oregon and in Seattle, Washington.

 

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