Kitchens are the hub of most homes and it's not always about food. Traditional kitchen design focused on the “work triangle” and placing appliances, storage and the sink in close proximity for all activities around cooking food. The assumption was one person was cooking but we now have multiple cooks which led to double work triangles.
We're now spending more time in the kitchen on non-cooking activities — helping the kids with homework, watching TV or catching up with a friend on the phone or the computer. The kitchen design process has changed to address these activity centers to insure you get the functionality you want and need from your kitchen so let's check them out.
The Traditional “Food Oriented” Activities
It's pretty amazing what we keep in our kitchen and until we list them all, we don't realize how complicated this room can get.
- Consumable “food” storage – is where you store all your food items — canned goods, boxes of cereal, baking ingredients, soda and other bottled drinks and of course we store lots of food in the refrigerator.
- Non-consumable storage – is used for glasses, dishes, silverware, plastic containers to store food in, disposables like napkins and paper towels and don't forget your cookbooks.
- Food preparation area(s) – is where you prepare your food, and where you should store mixing bowls and utensils, spices and other cooking ingredients. We can't forget all the gadgets we collect to save time like a mixer, blender and the waffle iron.
- Your cooking space – includes the cook top/range and oven along with your microwave plus the items used in cooking — all your pots and pans, baking sheets, etc.
- Cleaning area – is where you clean up after cooking, baking or eating. It includes cleaning supplies and hopefully you've got a recycling center that is easy to access.
- Informal eating area – is common in today's kitchen, a place where several people can have lunch or an after school snack. With enough space, the entire family can eat there too.
What's Happening in the Kitchen?
As our homes have gotten larger, we've added space in the kitchen for lots of activities that don't involve food. After all, we only eat 3 meals, and possibly a snack or 2 so there's a lot of time when the kitchen is free for other activities.
- Home office – includes much more than meal planning today. You may pay your bills here, keep the family's master calendar and control your home's security system along with other smart technologies.
- Homework center – is often found in the kitchen so parents can monitor and help with homework while they're working in the kitchen. It makes sense to review paperwork coming home from school and update the calendar before things scatter to other rooms.
- Laundry areas – have moved closer to the bedrooms in newer homes but they're still included in the kitchen or an adjacent room so you can do the laundry while cooking.
- Hobby center – makes sense in the kitchen when you need access to water, i.e. flower arranging, or it's something you might do while cooking, for example scrap booking.
- Communications center – is much more than yesterday's telephone. We've go the Internet and it's becoming more popular to keep a computer in the kitchen to look up recipes, a phone number or sports schedule.
- Entertainment activity center – includes electronics and other things like video games for family fun. It's also where you might have a small refrigerator for cold drinks when you're having a party, and it will also help control foot traffic through the kitchen during busy meal preparation and cooking times.