Many years ago while visiting my parents after they had just finished a kitchen renovation, I learned some valuable lessons about kitchen design that have stuck with me. “Where are the garbage bags?” I asked. “In the third drawer underneath the microwave,” my mother replied. I wondered to myself why they weren’t near the garbage can. Later, while making dinner, I checked several cabinets before locating the pots and pans. Why weren’t they closer to the stove? And when I finally found the recycling bin in the broom closet and not near the garbage, I had to ask my mother why the placement of so many things in the kitchen didn’t really make any sense. It seemed as though it was almost an afterthought. It really didn’t bother my mom at all, and she laughed it off as yet another example of my Type A personality compared with her Type B. What I realized is that if you take the time during the design phase to carefully plan out the locations for as many things as you can, then the result will be a highly efficient space. The truth is, my parents’ kitchen is large and has plenty of drawers and cabinets, so careful consideration for the location of things wasn’t really that necessary. When you have a smaller kitchen and space is at a premium, however, you tend to plan out every inch of space. But when space isn’t an issue, inefficiencies abound. I’ve often told my mother that I would like to spend an afternoon in her kitchen simply relocating a few things and creating a more efficient layout. Somehow I have yet to get around to it, as my parents (after many years now in this kitchen) have a system of sorts which works for them.
When planning for a kitchen, once the basic floorplan has been determined, then how you plan to move around in the space will have a direct impact on the specific cabinet and drawer layout. For example, when you are standing at the food prep area can you easily reach the knives and cutting boards? Are the spices within reach if you are standing at the stove? Imagine yourself emptying the dishwasher…is the cabinet or shelf that will hold the dishes nearby? When you take out the garbage, is there a drawer or cabinet close at hand which holds spare bags? Or when you brew a cup of coffee in the morning, are the mugs and other supplies near the coffee pot? For some, these suggestions may seem obvious, and for others the thought of planning out every cabinet and drawer might seem tedious, or even daunting, but it’s absolutely worth the work. A large part of the design process involves thinking about how you will work most efficiently in the space, so the more time that you spend considering these things during the design and planning phase, the happier you ultimately will be.