Making Your Kitchen Work for You
The kitchen often becomes a family hub, the heart of the home for daily activity and entertaining. For this reason, the design of a kitchen space should address how the room is used on a daily basis. Identifying how you like to cook, eat and entertain are important steps in creating an efficient kitchen space.
Whether you are building from the floor plan up or simply reorganizing, kitchen tools and space planning have the most powerful impact on a kitchen's effectiveness.
The Kitchen Pro
Ask any chef and they'll tell you that cooking with the right equipment makes all the difference in the world. While a full kitchen overhaul can be costly, here are a few innovative ideas that blend functionality and fashion.
* Mix and match. It is perfectly acceptable to equip your kitchen with appliances you like, one by one. Most culinary experts do not choose an entire matching set of appliances from one manufacturer. Instead look at individual appliance features and stick to easy-to-match finishes like black, white and stainless.
* Stainless steel fixtures and appliances are in vogue for good reason -- they work with any color palette and many are built for standard sizes so they are easily retrofitted to your space.
* Streamline food preparation and cleanup with specialized fixtures. American Standard's new Culinaire Collection offers coordinating kitchen sinks, faucets and accessories that work extra hard. For example, the remote access drain feature allows you to drain the basin without sticking your hand into dirty dishwater. The line also features nonslip cutting boards and metal dish racks sized to fit snugly over the sink surface.
* If frozen dinners come flying out of the freezer door every time you open it, consider adding refrigeration or freezer drawers in your kitchen work island. These products are specifically designed to keep certain items, such as produce, at the exact temperature and humidity to stay their freshest. These compact units can add as much as 30 to 40 percent more refrigeration and freezer space to a kitchen.
Gadgets and small appliances can be very handy but tend to gobble up space. Consider these tips to manage clutter so that nothing interferes with your culinary projects.
* What's good for your wardrobe is good for your kitchen -- donate items that you have duplicates of or that you no longer use and replace them with sleek versions of must-have kitchen elements. Sinks with integrated accessories, like the Culinaire sink and its integrated drainboard and colander, are more efficient, stylish and eliminate kitchen clutter.
* Create more counter space by adding a small center island or rolling cart. Look for a cart that is decorative but also offers storage space below the work surface.
* Trade in your kitchen table for a bar-style counter and stools. Not only will this free up floor space to add more cabinets or extend counters, it will also prompt you to use your formal dining room more often for family meals.
* Annex space from another room to create a walk-in pantry. This is one of the most popular features for homebuyers. It allows for storage of bulk food items and large appliances like chafing dishes that are used infrequently.
* Get creative to better utilize deep cupboards and organize drawers. Lazy Susan rotating trays and stackable spice racks are just the tip of the iceberg -- install shelves that pull out for easy access items in the back. Also, fit a horizontal knife block next to your flatware caddy to protect your fingers and the life of the blades.