April 17, 2019

The Smart and Ergonomic Home: How to Make Your Kitchen Work for You!

Kaisa Puhle, Southwest Florida Design Consultant

Building new construction gives you every opportunity to personalize all the aspects of your new home. There are small details that you can include from the very beginning of the project to make your day-to-day functioning that much easier. From the physical layout of your kitchen to specific seating heights to custom storage features, you can create a home around your lifestyle instead of adapting to a house that wasn’t built for your needs.  The American Disabilities Act and building codes tell us how homes should be built, but we can go above and beyond the basic rules for the masses to create the kitchen that works best for you.

Physical layouts of the home can create more efficiency. The “kitchen work triangle” is the idea that the proximity of cooking, cleaning, and food storage areas should be placed in such a location that the cook can work in the middle of the three areas. This of course can be customized based on geometry of the kitchen, number of cooks, traffic patterns, island placement, etc. For example: Kitchens that have double ovens with separate cooktops then can become more of a square. Galley kitchens and U-shaped kitchens might have a more “abstract” triangle shape than kitchens with islands; think isosceles or scalene triangles from our elementary geometry days.

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It’s not just the chef of the kitchen we should consider--the kitchen is the heart of the home.  What about the guests that mingle there?  Or the kids that work on homework while Mom and Dad get breakfast, lunch or dinner ready?  Thinking in advance about how sitting areas will be utilized means you can plan for the best outcome.

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In the kitchen, there are different heights of countertops geared towards different types of functions.  There are three standardized heights that can be utilized individually or in any combination. An elevated bar height for serving is approximately 40”-42”. The seated height is approximately the same height as people standing and is conducive for conversations amongst mingling guests while entertaining.  The 36” standard countertop height is favorable for a working area. This height can be extended at the island to create a more open space between the seating area and task area of the kitchen. Standard dining height is 30” and can also be incorporated into an eat-in kitchen.

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Over the evolution of kitchen design, large and deep drawers are taking the place of base cabinets. They make the best use of the full space, and it’s easier to access the back of a pull-out drawer than to bend over and reach into the back of a deep cabinet. Within those pull-out drawers, you can get inserts to best organize your food storage, which means no more searching for your missing Tupperware lids. The more popular drawers also mean you’ll finally have trash and recycling storage to stow away that eye sore garbage can and can use Lazy Susan or pantry racks to consolidate smaller spice canisters and food cans in those large spaces. Storage is not only for organization and efficiency, it can create an aesthetic interest as well.

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