Monday, November 23, 2009

How not to design a kitchen

As a couple who like to prepare and cook food for ourselves, friends and family, our kitchen is the most important room in our house.

Having moved around a lot in the last couple of years we’ve had the chance to take a few for a test drive. The kitchen in our hut will have 5 years of planning behind it!

So our top ten kitchen design flaws:

1. Overhead cupboards- as we’re both 6ft tall these are just lethal for us, the chance of an accidental lobotomy is too high.

2. Bench tops too low- again the height factor means we hunch over the chopping or mixing ending up with a very sore back.

3. Visible compost bin- we create a lot of compost- and it’s not a very attractive look is it?

4. Oven- we've had some doozies, one without a seal so we were heating the whole house, a 1950’s original that had 2 temperature settings off or 350°C. The current one has a bottom element so all cakes cook on the bottom before the top, and most frustratingly only has room for 2 racks- no good for mass biscuit production.

5. Extractor fan- what extractor fan? Our current kitchen has a fan so pathetic that we have to open all the doors and windows whilst cooking. Ok at the moment, but in the middle of a Tasmanian winter it requires rugging up for an Antarctic expedition to cook.

6. Not enough space- I know our current home is a flat, but it’s not possible for both of us to be in the kitchen at the same time! Especially if you add the dynamic of trying to get ingredients from the pantry or the fridge (which inconveniently opens the wrong way so you have to walk out of the kitchen to open the door). This usually ends in both of us growling and the exclamation “I was here first!”

7. Surfaces- darling, I need surfaces! Linked to no. 8, but really who thought of textured tiles in a kitchen, annoying grooves, and patterned laminex? Ok so the current kitchen is a 70’s special but still! Easy to clean is our top priority here.

8. Not enough bench space- Although we only keep the essentials on the bench top, i.e. chopping board, compost bin, espresso machine, coffee grinder, coffee grounds knock box, the constant rearrangement of stuff so you can cook anything is starting to get to me. If you make anything that requires rolling out –well it doesn’t bear thinking about. For your own safety- please vacate the immediate vicinity of our house!

9. Pantry- deep shelves- their only good point is that it makes it easier to hide the chocolate stash. But it’s also easy to hide everything else! To find the ingredients for baking sometimes requires a passport as you plunge into the Narnia-like depths of our pantry. We’re constantly buying doubles because you can’t see the lentils, salt, canned tomatoes, cocoa, cranberries etc, it’s just easier to buy another packet!

10. No view- ideally I think a kitchen needs a nice view, so that even jobs as mundane as washing up can become meditative.

So, in our ideal kitchen, all these flaws are sorted. Quite a nice thought actually!

Please let me know if there are any I’ve missed, or any suggestions for the hut kitchen- it’s been quite a therapeutic exercise for me!


Michelle said...

Hooray! It's so exciting planning a kitchen that suits you perfectly!

Oh yes, being a long term previous renter I have had my fair share of kitchen design doozies most of which you've listed above.

But I'd add avoid corner cupboards, they are the bermuda triangle of kitchens. In fact, I'd nix cupboards all together and go for drawers. Have you been to Parbury? They have amazing fittings.

And I don't like extractor fans, simply because they always seem to be installed at the height where I donk my noggin on the corner -every time I cook - ouch! Make sure you find one powerful enough that can be placed high up out of the way.

Good luck!

Hazel said...

It is exciting- totally agree about the drawers- it so much easier to find things.
We did find an extractor fan that is recessed into the wall called a Parmo Downdraft, so we're hoping to have one of those. I can't remember Parbury...have to check it out- thanks for the tips.

How's your new kitchen going?

Victor said...

Yes, big sets of drawers. Absolutely love them! A large walk-in pantry is sheer luxury if got space. I went through a horrible tiny 60s kitchen for 4 yrs until we put in a brand new kitchen. My brief - got to have views (esp I am a human "dish washer"), and a cooking area where I can interact with my guest!.

I don't think a super turbo range hood will help for anyone that is over 6 ft. You will still need a certain height allowance for the fan to work properly.

I have the pleasure of doing another kitchen. This time in Penang, and I am using a kitchen designer to draw up the plan; a separate wet kitchen area from a dry kitchen area. That is Asian style. Wet for heavy cooking and dry kitchen for entertaining in an open plan living room.

ut si said...

Oh Victor, that sounds so civilized!
Good luck with your plans Hazel. The next kitchen I do will be at Randalls Bay. As Prof will be the only person cooking it will be completely concrete with fire hose.

Hazel said...

Hi Victor, it is nice to be able to interact with guests whilst cooking instead of being like a slave hiding away! Interesting idea about wet & dry. The hut will be open plan so the kitchen flows into the dining/living area. But there will be a set of doors leading out to a large paved area. Look forward to seeing the end product in Penang?
Hi Colette- thanks for stopping by- now there's an idea!

Victor said...

Colette - oh, and install a powerful pump to draw water from Randalls Bay just in case. What a lovely spot there.

Last time I had my cousin's husband in my kitchen, he burnt 2 of my induction stock pots! Never again!

Hey - you have Bob Brown and his partner, Paul as your neighbour. They have a house in RB.

Hazel - your kitchen in the making sounds fabulous! Next blogger's venue! :-)

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