A guide to kitchen layout

Ideas for designing the best kitchen layout.

Whether you are designing a new kitchen or remodeling an existing one, there are a few principles of good kitchen design to keep in mind. These principles will help you have a kitchen that is functional and streamlined as well as attractive.

If you are starting with an existing kitchen, take inventory of the structure. Measure the space and mark locations of doors, windows and other elements you do not want to move or replace. Consider where electricity, gas lines and plumbing are located; they can be moved, but this will add costs to the renovation.

Next, it is time to work out the plan for locating appliances and workspaces. It is important to arrange a kitchen so that all of the areas you use most frequently are easy to access and located close to the items you will need when you are in that workspace. Generally, the most common areas for working in the kitchen are the food preparation, cooking/serving, and cleaning/washing areas.

So, the cooking zone would include the stovetop and oven. Items such as pots, pans, hot pads and cooking utensils should all be located in near proximity to the stovetop. In addition, prep areas should be close to the cooking zone so that food that is chopped, seasoned and otherwise prepared can be moved directly to a cooking pot or pan. The refrigerator is generally considered part of the prep area since it is important to get cold foods out as food is being prepared; in cooking an average meal, the refrigerator is usually opened several times. By this same principle, the sink should be close to the dishwasher and there should be nearby storage for dish soap, colanders and other things used at the sink.

Many designers suggest the triangle approach to kitchen design. In this approach, the work zones are arranged so that a person can move from one to another in an unblocked triangle. In other words, if the stove is one corner of the triangle, the refrigerator and countertop prep area will be another corner and the sink will be the third. While this approach does not work for all room designs, it is useful to remember since it clearly illustrates the way the work areas interplay.

Many people like an "island" in their kitchen design. An island provides additional countertop space and work area. However, make sure that an island is not positioned to block the flow of work through the kitchen. For example, it is inconvenient for the island to be between the stove and the refrigerator. One way around this sort of problem is the make the island into one of the key work areas, for example placing a cooktop or sink into the island.

In modern kitchen design, one of the most popular elements is the "appliance garage". These custom cupboards house appliances, with the appropriate electrical connections, so they are kept handy yet out of sight when they are not in use. Some kitchens have multiple small garages so they can have distinct work areas for commonly used items.

Another thing to consider when designing a kitchen is whether to include an eating area. Built-in eating areas such as breakfast bars or booths are very popular although a nook that will accommodate a table and chairs can offer more flexibility.

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