Building the Best Cooking Area
Begin with an eye to good function and maximum safety to build the perfect cooking station.
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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.
Tile, stone, cork, wood or vinyl? Kitchen choices fit all budgets.
Get inspiration and kitchen design ideas from these stunning, professionally designed kitchens. This special extended gallery...(36 photos)
Learn about the five building blocks of kitchen design in this excerpt from Joan Kohn's It's Your Kitchen.