Get to Work

The well-planned kitchen should have four distinct work areas.

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Can a kitchen ever have enough space? The best strategy in designing your kitchen, no matter what the square footage, is to create the illusion of space through efficiency. A good strategy for maximum elbow room is to divide your kitchen into four basic work centers:

1. The cleanup center should have between 18 inches to 30 inches on one side of a sink and 48 to 54 on the other to let you stack dishes and pots and pans. Allow for 12 inches between the sink and nearest corner so you won’t get boxed in. And don’t forget dishwasher placement. Consider that often the dishwasher door will be open and be a tripping hazard. Give yourself 20 inches clearance.

2. The cooking center should have a minimum of 12 inches on one side of a range and between 15 and 24 inches on the other side. Be sure to leave at least a foot from the nearest room corner. Built-in ovens and microwaves should have between 15 inches and 18 inches of counter space on the side opposite the hinge.

3. The storage center around the refrigerator needs 15 inches to 18 inches on the handle side to allow space for unloading groceries or gathering ingredients.

4. The prep center should consist of at least 36 inches of continuous counter space with a depth of 24 inches. If your skills tend toward the more complicated consider increasing that by adding another stretch of counter or adding an island. If space and budget permits also think about adding an additional area dedicated for serving which would require another 36 to 84 inches.

Remember, today’s kitchens multi-task as much as the people in them. They hold computers and televisions. They can be homework stations, crafts areas and social hubs. Consider all uses of the room when making a design. Gone are the once popular built-in desks (which no one used anyway) now replaced with command centers to plug in electronics and cell phones. If children are going to be doing homework during meal preparation decide whether space for a table makes more sense than a breakfast bar. Think too how you serve your meals. Do you sit down as a family or eat on the run? Do you have a formal dining room or do you always eat in the kitchen? A magazine perfect kitchen design is wasted if it doesn’t fit the people who use it.

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