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At a house party, everyone ends up in the kitchen. Why?
It is because the kitchen is always the heart of the home. It does not matter how big or small the house is or even the kitchen, it is where one of the most important tasks – preparing food – happens. It is also where people have conversations while making the dinner; fleeting goodbye kisses over a quick cup of coffee as they run out to work in the mornings. It is where homework is done at the kitchen table, where arguments are sorted out, where tears are wiped away and where families and friends reconnect.
It can be argued that the kitchen really is the most important part of the house — the heartbeat.
For that reason, it is crucial that your kitchen is a space that you enjoy spending time in. It needs to look good. It needs to be practical enough for the many functions it carries out, and it needs to feel good. In this post, we will look at how you can go about planning the perfect family kitchen that you will want to spend time in for many years to come.
Image credit: Pixabay CC0 License
Zone it up
As we mentioned above, your kitchen has many different functions: a place to prepare and cook food, eat food, a command center for your day to day life, a living room, a dining room, a study, a home office, a playroom, and a craft room – and just about everything else in between.
By zoning these areas off, you can create one big space that works in harmony and flows, while creating smaller, intimate spaces. After all, who wants to sit amongst a big pile of dirty pots and pans while hosting a family dinner or dinner party? Creating these individual zones is pretty important if you want a room that you can use for multiple functions.
Generally speaking, a kitchen needs three zones: kitchen, dining area, and seating area. Obviously, the kitchen area, where you prepare and cook meals is the star of the show and needs plenty of thinking about. The dining and seating areas often double up on their functions, becoming entertainment areas, play areas, homework spaces, and home offices. Try to ensure that each of the functions works well on their own as well as part of the whole space.
Pretty much every kitchen across the western world will have similar appliances and accessories: a cooker, a sink, a dishwasher, fridges and freezers, cupboards or a pantry, and maybe, depending on where you live, the washing machine and dryer. There is plenty of room for flexibility for how you organize these; however, you may opt for a built-in under counter fridge or a freestanding refrigerator, and the same goes for your cooker. Do you want one built-in or a freestanding one for more moveability and versatility when it comes to the layout of your kitchen?
Light it up
One of the easiest ways to separate these areas and make them into distinct zones is through intelligent use of lighting. Have individual lights over each of the areas so that when you are sitting at the table eating, you can have the lights in the kitchen switched off, which makes that pile of dirty dishes much easier to ignore.
Nothing beats natural light in any room, but even more so in a kitchen where colors and how things look are so important. Obviously, if natural light is not plentiful, you have to find some way of mimicking that light. The food preparation area needs to be bright and well-illuminated. In contrast, you will probably want to opt for softer tones and more atmospheric lighting for the dining and seating areas.
Box it up
If the dining or seating area of your kitchen is also doubling up as a classroom or home office or a play space, storage is essential. You do not want to be surrounded by piles of paper and glitter and craft materials and toys when you are trying to relax and enjoy your meal. Storage is your friend here. Whether it is cute wicker baskets where you can dump everything, or labeled Kallax storage units, have flexible storage that grows and changes with your family as needs change. Remember: out of sight is always out of mind!
Soften it up
Kitchens can be hard spaces. They have laminate worktops or silestone worktops hard flooring in the shape of tiles, vinyl or wood, hard tables. There is a reason for this, of course. When your toddler decided to flick their pasta sauce up the wall it is easier to clean off, and when that drink is knocked over for the tenth time that day, your wipe down table covering and chairs are a godsend, and then there are the obvious safety and hygiene reasons with having a wipe-clean floor. However, this can sometimes leave the room feeling a little cold and can play havoc with the acoustics. Sounds need something soft to bounce off to sound ‘right’. A small rug in the seating area of your kitchen, some blinds or curtains at the window by your sink, and maybe a stain-resistant fabric covering on your table and chair seats can add a touch of warmth and coziness while still being practical.
Glam it up
There is absolutely no reason why a practical, family kitchen can’t be glamorous as well, especially if it is somewhere you intend to socialize in or entertain people in. Big statement lighting, such as pendant lamps above your table or kitchen island, can add a touch of luxe. You could also look at tiling or grout work with a hint of glitz and sparkle – or go full out and have a glitzy splashback behind your cooker.
Alternatively, plenty of pots filled with lush greenery and brightly colored flowers dotted around the place really lifts the room and can turn it from functional to fun in one easy and inexpensive step. Not only that, green plants help to take in carbon dioxide and increase the amount of oxygen in the air, and can also help to remove cooking odors.
Detail it up
Last, but certainly not least, think about the small details when it comes to designing your kitchen. Think about things like electricity points so that you can plug in your toaster, waffle maker, coffee machine, and charge your phones and devices. This is a really important factor, especially in the kitchen, but one that gets overlooked so often.
The family kitchen has become the core of the house, and there is no ‘one solution fits all’ approach to finding the right design that works for you, your family, and your home.
The design of the kitchen depends on personal taste as well as on individual needs. Some people, for example, want a sleek kitchen just like a new bar, packed with the latest in tech, TV, and electronics. In contrast, others can’t bear the thought of a TV in the kitchen and want a more traditional place for the family to cook, socialize, and separate from their screens.
The choice, of course, is entirely yours, but by having fun and thinking carefully, you can create the perfect kitchen for you and your family.