Like it or not, if you cook meals at home you spend a lot of time in the kitchen. And if you’re like most people its just one of the many things that you have to do in a day’s work. For this reason, you want a kitchen that is designed to function well. And as long as you’re taking the time to design it right, you might as well make it beautiful. In this section, we’ll take a look at the basics of kitchen design and the materials that will be both durable and beautiful.

The Working Triangle

The working triangle is the backbone of every kitchen. It is comprised of the refrigerator, the sink and the range – your 3 main tools in the kitchen. Working triangles can be designed into virtually any kitchen layout – galley, U-shaped, L-shaped, or G-shaped – but there are rules that apply to your working triangle regardless of the layout of the kitchen.

1. Do not design main walkways that intersect your working triangle. If your kitchen is immediately off the main garage entrance to your home, make sure that the kids can come inside and raid the refrigerator without crossing your working triangle and interrupting your work flow.

2. There should be a minimum of 4′ and a maximum of 9′ between each point of your working triangle.

Too little space between these points makes your work environment too cramped and too much space will have you wasting time moving from one place to another.

Eating Space

If you don’t have a convenient, comfortable space to eat in your kitchen, be prepared to spend long hours alone, slaving away while the rest of your family is in another room. Opening the kitchen to a living area and assigning space for seating, whether it is at an oversized island or in a cozy booth, is the best way to keep a family interacting while you’re getting all your daily tasks accomplished.

Seating at a kitchen island is a great idea whether or not your kitchen is large enough to have a separate eating area. It affords the cook a convenient place to rest while preparing food or watching over the progress of cooking food. It also has a more casual feel that some people prefer to a dining table.

Separate seating areas can be tables or, with some planning, an interesting booth. Either way, make sure that you have enough space to accommodate everyone who will be using that space at once.

The Right Appliances

Oooooh. It seems like every year appliance manufacturers come up with new gadgets. Ranges with built-in steamers, pot-fillers, warming drawers and refrigerators with TVs built into the doors. If you can imagine it, you can probably buy it.

When selecting major appliances, evaluate how you prepare food and pinpoint those areas where your present kitchen falls short. For example, if you don’t do a lot of entertaining and you just cook for a family of four, you may not need a warming drawer. However, if you are determined to make an effort to cook healthier (a constant challenge in my home) a built-in steamer may bring that goal a little closer to reality.

Remember, you’ll live with your appliance selections for many years, so don’t skimp on something that you really want. Like double ovens. The first time you have Thanksgiving dinner for all your in-laws at your home and you settled for a single oven to save money, you might be out buying a double oven the next day.

Well-Planned Lighting Design

Separate areas of your kitchen have different lighting requirements. Address the lighting plan first from the standpoint of what you will be doing in a particular area. For example, you’ll need task lighting over the sink, food prep and cooking areas. Under counter lighting on a dimmer will never go unappreciated. Don’t depend on task lighting and decorative lighting alone to do the trick – you need a good general lighting source. And finally, the kitchen is an ideal place to allow natural light to flood in. Not only does it make your kitchen beautiful, it also provides the cook with a view.


Durable Finishes

A lot happens in a kitchen. You have sharp objects, hot objects, water, flames, steam and people all assaulting your kitchen surfaces – the counters, the sink, the cabinets and the flooring – all the time. This is one place in your home where you really need surfaces that are suited to the tasks they are asked to perform.

Your flooring can’t be carpet, marble countertops are going to stain, cabinets with glass fronts might not be a good choice if you have a house full of roughhousing boys who like to play dodge-ball wherever they are. Choose materials that are tougher than the violence that will be done to them.


Intelligent Storage

Intelligent cabinetry planning is the next most important element in your well-designed kitchen. Everything you need, from the food you prepare to the tools that you use to prepare it has to be housed in your kitchen so that it all fits and it is conveniently located where you need it.

Take inventory.

1. How much space do you ideally need for foodstuffs? Do you keep a minimum on hand or do are you stocked to ride out a blizzard?

2. Are your plates and glasses too cramped to access without risking an avalanche?

3. How much space will you need for pots and pans if you aren’t going to use a pot rack. How much bakeware do you need to store?

4. How many small appliances are you going to need to store in cabinets when you aren’t using them?

5. Do you have enough room for your tupperware and paper products?

6. Will you have children in your home? If so, you may want some secured storage for cleaning products and other hazardous materials.

7. Could you start a used bookstore with all of your cookbooks? You’ll need a bookshelf that is convenient, but out of harm’s way.

8. Do you have any collectibles that you want to display in your kitchen? They could have a large effect on your cabinetry design.