Over the past 20 years, the kitchen has transformed from a hidden room in a home to a multi-generational, multi-purpose space.
The kitchen’s role is no longer limited to cooking and washing up. Now, it’s also a living and entertainment area—a space where the kids do their homework, and parents check emails, make drinks and entertain guests.
With the kitchen being the heart of the home, and usually integrated into an open plan design, it’s important to consider this space in an aesthetic and sculptural way. Fixtures and facades suddenly become a whole lot more important when you can see them from your living area.
But you have to strike the balance. The ultimate goal? A functional kitchen design that doesn’t compromise aesthetic.
It’s something that is definitely achievable, and while you can still have that brushed brass tap you’ve always dreamt of, there are key areas to consider to make sure your kitchen really works.
It’s the holy grail of kitchen design, and Interior Designer Darren Palmer agrees that the five-zoned approach should be the foundation of every kitchen.
“Because we have larger homes, larger kitchens, and larger entertainment spaces, we need to organise everything using the five-zoned approach to kitchen design,” says Darren.
These five zones are:
Kitchen functionality is about determining how these five areas interact with each other and how you will use them in your daily life.
You may have heard of L-shaped, U-shaped and galley layouts. Before you rush into choosing one, Darren recommends using practical exercises to visualise how you will use the space.
“Think about walking in the kitchen with an arm full of groceries. You have to put them down near your consumable zone,” Darren explains. “You have to put them down and then get them where they need to go in one or two steps.”
Something else to consider is washing up. “Consider your cleaning zone,” notes Darren. “You want to go from your sink to your dishwasher with as little travel as possible. Hopefully, without moving your feet so you don’t get water all over the floor.”
You can extend these imaginary exercises to every activity you do in your kitchen—meal prep, making lunches, baking, even cleaning and taking out the bins.
While you’re running through these ‘mental checks’ always come back to the five zones and consider how their positioning can make these daily tasks easier.
The working triangle is a kitchen design framework that was coined in the 1920s. It’s relatively simple—the theory states that a kitchen’s three main work areas (sink, refrigerator, stove) should form a triangle.
This approach allows you to access your consumable zone, cooking zone and cleaning zone with ease and ensures a path free of clutter. It is especially useful for small kitchens that need to utilise space to create comfort and convenience.
The working triangle can help eliminate clutter and obstacles, as you must ensure there is a smooth flow of traffic between each of the triangle’s ‘points’. For example, Darren advises integrating your bin into a storage area to help streamline your cleaning zone.
“There’s nothing worse for traffic flow and clutter like a free-standing bin,” says Darren.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of ‘bench-as-storage’. You’ll promise yourself that you’ll keep it tidy and stay on top of managing the space… but the truth is, you likely won’t.
Ample, smart storage space instantly de-clutters your kitchen and provides you with easy access to your appliances when you need them.
You can never have too much storage in your kitchen, but you also want to make sure that it’s the right kind of storage.
You don’t want to simply stack your pots and pans and have your everyday food processor pushed right into the back of a cupboard. Every time you need something, you’ll have to unload everything from the shelf or drawer, then pack it all away again.
Your new home consultant will be able to help step you through the myriad different types of kitchen storage available—from custom spice drawers to slide-out and magnetic racks, there’s a solution for every type of cook.
We told you we liked storage. And integrated appliances take this concept one step further.
Simply put, integrated kitchen appliances have fronts that match your cabinetry.
Integration is almost like ‘storing your appliances’ — it helps reduce the visual clutter in your kitchen. From a functional perspective, it also can help you save on space, and makes your kitchen much easier to clean.
“Integrated appliances are an absolute must in any modern kitchen,” says Darren.
So where to from here?
“The best approach is to consider your constraints and work back from there,” says Darren.
At the end of the day, kitchen design is a science. Taking the time to consult an expert will pay dividends, ensuring you aren’t running circles around your kitchen every time you prepare a meal.