Designing Your Kitchen to Work Hard So You Don’t Have To
Some say that life is lived in the kitchen. After all, the kitchen is the heart of most homes today. While the space was once considered purely utilitarian and frequently closed off from the rest of the house, the kitchen has evolved into the family epicenter, consciously integrated into the overall flow and character of the home.
Functional design and organizational techniques are essential for all of our kitchens – especially given the significant role the space plays in our client’s lives. The overall flow including workspaces, storage, and shelving options are all essential factors we consider unique for each homeowner to help simplify their lives. And everything has a home with customized drawers dedicated to flatware and cooking utensils, along with pull out drawers for cookware or spices, for example.
Our first recommendation is to incorporate full-height cabinets which visually heighten the ceiling and provide optimized storage options: everyday items can be at hand’s reach, while less frequently used items and appliances can be stored up above. Those with tall ceilings can add upper cabinets for even more storage!
Storage above a refrigerator or oven is another option for less frequently used items while cabinet garage doors or a conveniently located butler’s pantry can be used to store or hide large appliances. A more discreet storage technique – and possibly one of our favorite tricks – is to transform columns and cased openings into usable space. All of these options help reduce clutter but sometimes our clients have meaningful pieces or decorative accessories. In this case, we recommend glass cabinets lit from within or classic open shelving to highlight those pieces.
For many, the island or peninsula is a kitchen’s primary gathering spot – not just for food preparation, but also for social entertaining or eating a meal. The island also serves as a key functional component. Refrigerator drawers and dishwashers can be compartmentalized around an island, while wine coolers and microwaves can be handsomely integrated into the design. Adding a practical work surface, such as wood, helps set the island apart, as does choosing a beautiful, decorative overhead light fixture. If designed properly, the island can be the most functional space in the kitchen.
Acknowledging this is a highly utilitarian space, to create a sense of warmth in the kitchen we use millwork such as beadboard on our walls and beamed ceilings articulated in a beadboard. If a homeowner wants their kitchen to exude a distinctly modern tone, in which case we may choose storage options that feel a bit more tailored. For example, stacking wine elements on either side of an integrated built-in refrigerator can establish a sleek, tailored look. For homeowners looking for a more traditional look, nearly all appliances can be paneled to appear like furniture.
A kitchen’s design and functionality sets the tone for a home by increasing the ease with which a homeowner lives and entertains. Whether it is reclaimed timber beams or sleekly designed storage drawers, it should be an inspiring space that tells the story – welcoming all to the heart of the home.