Building the Best Cooking Area
Whether you choose a traditional look, like this inviting hearth, or a clean, contemporary style, the cooking area is the heart of the kitchen.
Well-designed cooking areas share the same attributes: a high-quality cooking surface with a minimum of 24 inches on either side — one side for food prep and one for a "landing space" for hot pots; a cooking space located between prep and cleanup areas but out of high-traffic zones; and a well-designed ventilation system.
- The cooktop is the centerpiece of the kitchen, and commercial quality cookers have become popular for residential applications.
- Hoods cover ventilation systems and come in a variety of strengths, depending on the heat generated by the cooktop. They have unlimited design possibilities, including a stone hearths, to copper and other metals, to glass.
- Down draft systems, many of which lower when not in use, provide needed ventilation without the look of a hood.
- Store spices and ingredients as well as pots and pans conveniently close to the cooktop.
- Natural materials like stone are the most heat-resistant and are smart choices for counters and surfaces near the heat generated by the cooktop.
- Choose a backsplash material that is easy to clean since it will be exposed to grease and grime. Good choices include natural stone, stainless steel and sealed tiles.
- Be sure the work space is well lit. Recessed cans in the ceiling provide a shadowless light, while halogens have a clean bright light. Tungsten lamps provide both heat and light and can be used to keep foods warm.
- For a traditional look, choose rough textured materials like stone, wood and stucco.
- For a sexy, contemporary space, consider metals and glass with clean edges and simple designs. Glossy surfaces work well.