Make Your Kitchen Work For You

Arrange the space in your kitchen based on your needs

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Before the first sketch is drawn or check written the most important step in good kitchen space-planning is an honest assessment of your life. “You should always start by asking yourself how you will use the kitchen and how often,” says Richard Edic, owner of Richard Edic Designs in Rochester, N.Y., and co-author of Kitchens That Work.

Do you channel Julia Child or is picking up take-out the food prep of choice? Is sitting down to a family meal non-negotiable or do you eat in shifts to accommodate busy schedules? When planning a new kitchen, think about what didn’t work in the old one. With the average cost of a mid-range kitchen remodel topping $40,000 you can’t afford to make the same mistakes twice.

STORING YOUR TOOLS
For the serious cook the kitchen should be like a workshop. Tools of the trade should be easily assessable. Consider open shelving; pull-out storage may work better than traditional cabinets. Think about hanging pots and pans from a rack. The rule of thumb is pans should hang at roughly the height of the range hood but placement can be adjusted to fit the height of the cook without stretching.

DUAL WORK ZONES
The latest trend in kitchen-space planning is making dual work zones to accommodate multiple cooks. You can do this by adding a second sink or carving out a niche for dedicated tasks such as chopping or pastry making. You don’t need a huge kitchen. The best restaurant kitchens in the world often have many people working in tiny spaces yet there are few pile-ups because each person has their own task and workspace to accommodate it.

Still, some congestion is inevitable. The National Kitchen & Bath Association recommends the aisle space of a galley or island-design kitchen be widened from the traditional 42 to 48 inches to make room for multiple cooks.

KID-FRIENDLY CONSIDERATIONS
Deleigh Van Deursen, a residential design specialist for R. Bratti and Associates in Alexandria, Va., suggests putting the refrigerator on the outer edge of the room, since children will gravitate toward it. When picking materials for a family kitchen, think durability. Wood grain cabinets hide nicks and fingerprints better than smooth surfaces such as lacquer. Patterned countertops are also a good choice to hide everyday messes.

CUSTOMIZATION FOR A NON-COOK
If your kitchen is more decorative than utilitarian, you can still customize its layout to meet your needs. For frequent entertainers, design a place to serve drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Edic suggests a wide island to give guests a place to congregate and allows for better food display. Consider skipping an expensive range and splurge on an item that fits your lifestyle. If you love exotic coffee or good wine, think about incorporating a coffee station or wine cooler into the design.

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