Kitchen designers emphasize efficiency

Question: We want to brighten the surroundings in our home by giving it a face-lift. We have decided to start with the kitchen. We haven’t decided whether to redo the cabinets or take everything out and start over. What are some of the things that most people think about when designing a kitchen? 

Answer: One of the best places to start is the kitchen. Focusing on the look — cabinet door styles, for example — if you have drab or worn cabinet exteriors, they can be renewed with a natural wood finish, paint or new facings that adhere to the old. 

But, if insufficient or damaged cabinets call for new ones, shop around at kitchen centres and home renovation stores to find out what is available and get professional advice. 

When planning a kitchen, draw the floor plan on graph paper, showing the floor’s dimensions and any fixed utilities such as a sink. Draw in the base cabinets depth and widths. Make a separate sketch of the wall plan and include the locations of the studs, windows and doors. 

On your sketch, plan the size and number of cabinets you need. Start at the corner and plot according to size. Mark the hinge positions and track the doors’ arcs on the floor plan to be sure that they will swing freely. If you are working from a catalogue of ready-made cabinets, label each piece with its model number. Adjustable shelves inside the cabinets are more efficient than fixed shelving. Before buying the cabinets, recheck your measurements and have the dealer take the final measurements. 

While all kitchen designers emphasize efficiency and stress the importance of arranging appliances and work areas to eliminate unnecessary steps, a working triangle is favored by most residential kitchen designers — the sink, stove and refrigerator locations should form a triangle with enough counter space between appliances for food preparation, serving, stacking and cleaning up. Your kitchen area floor plan should be short enough to minimize walking from the refrigerator to sink and to the stove. Try not to place a heat-making appliance, stove or dishwasher next to the refrigerator. 

Some people favour a design that includes two operations: keeping the cooking and the cleaning separate. Setting your arrangements for each on opposite sides of the kitchen may mean some things need to be duplicated such as having two sinks for each work station. 

On the cooking side of the kitchen, you will need a countertop that is large enough for the cutting and chopping of food preparation. A design may include having a sink on one side and a stove on the other side. And, for saving extra steps, you could install a below the counter refrigerator so that all you have to do is reach down to get any ingredients that is needed thereby saving unnecessary steps. 

Some people may like to have their pots and pans hanging from a pot rack above the cooking area so that they can just reach up to get the one they need. But this may mean using a lot of elbow grease to keep those pots and pans sparkling clean since they are always on display. I prefer putting the pots and pans in below-counter drawers. Even your whole set of dishes can be stacked in a pull-out drawer with wood spacers. 

On the cleaning side of the kitchen, a larger sink is always an advantage for washing pots and pans. The size of the faucet should match the size of the sink, as well as being long enough so that you don’t have to move the pots every which way to get them thoroughly rinsed after washing. As well, a flexible hose is an important factor as well. 

Some other things to consider are the kinds of food you like to prepare. Are they mostly for family or do you do a lot of entertaining? 

When it comes down to the final planning stage, what you need to focus on is the use of your kitchen and then work around that idea.