The greatest trend in interior design in Ireland this century has been have large bright open living areas which include the kitchen, casual dining area, and family room. People who live in houses constructed over 20 years ago are having the ground floor living area combined into one or two rooms. The kitchen now combines with the dining and family room in the south facing brightest part of the house.
As a result kitchens have to be more than functional they are a piece of furniture, an integral part of the living area of your home. Bearing this in mind and also the fact that as a room it takes up the greatest proportion of your construction budget it is far too important to make a mess of it.
Practicality is essential to kitchen design, but doesn’t need to come at the expense of beauty. The kitchen is the single most expensive and complex area when you’re designing, renovating or building a house. A broad range of kitchen appliances, cabinets and workspaces must be accommodated, each with its own need for space, stability, convenient electricity and function.
Balancing these needs appropriately is something of an art, but in the hands of a skilled kitchen designer just about any space can be turned into a fantastic kitchen.
What makes a ‘good’ kitchen?
A successful kitchen is one that fulfils both functional and aesthetic requirements. It will be laid out in a way that makes work as easy and effective as possible, will be designed in a way that will be safe, and will be finished with appropriate materials on floors, walls and ceilings, on cabinets and worktops.
A well designed kitchen, in simpler terms, is one that’s both a pleasure to look at and to work in.
What is the kitchen work triangle?
The golden rule when it comes to the practical side of kitchen design is to design with the kitchen work triangle in mind. The most common kitchen activities are repetitive, and involve a great deal of movement between two or three of the most commonly used parts of the kitchen:
- the cooker
- the sink
- the fridge
Drawing a line between these three elements in any kitchen creates what’s known as the traditional kitchen work triangle. In an ideal kitchen, you should be allowed to move completely unrestricted between these three parts of the kitchen.
Safe kitchen design
To be safe to work in, a kitchen must conform to basic design principles, as well as some simple building regulations. It must house all the required utensils and have sufficient work areas (including elbow room) to allow safe use of those utensils. Also, in order to meet the needs of different-sized households, certain minimum sizes must be met.
Ensuring that there aren’t any obstructions in the kitchen work triangle is one of the main safety concerns. Other important design aspects include:
- no flammable materials close to the cooker
- install exhaust fans that discharge outside the building
- have adequate natural light and ventilation
- have safe knife storage
- have bright task lighting wherever work is done
- build in adequate bench space for your needs
- build in adequate and accessible storage space
- integrate appliances so that they’re accessible in the work space
- have sufficient power points (more is better)
- position power points at a sufficient distance from water outlets and sink
- Borrowed landscapes and views, lines of sight.
If possible, locate the kitchen so that children can be easily supervised in other areas – an open-plan kitchen will definitely help with this. Give some thought to the views you’ll have through windows and doorways.