The kitchen is the center of a home; a space that can be used for entertaining guests and a place for the family to come together and enjoy each other’s company. As a result, it is important for a kitchen to achieve a balance between the social and functional aspects as well as being aesthetically pleasing.
As well as being the place that meals are prepared and cooked, a kitchen can be so much more. It is a place that everyone in the family can meet for meals, to chat, to do homework or use the Internet. It is often the place that guests are entertained. However, the kitchen also needs to be functional enough to prepare, cook, serve a meal and clean up relatively easily afterwards.
It is this lifestyle that is ideally suited to open plan kitchens, and with the cooking area the focus of the room, the chef can be involved in the action going on elsewhere in the space while preparing food.
Kitchen islands can create a centre point for the family or guests to gather round and is also a great way of zoning different areas of the kitchen. Many island units also combine clever space saving solutions such as pull-out trays and even fridges integrated into the unit.
While islands tend to be suited to larger kitchens, for a slightly smaller space, a peninsula island can work equally well. Such units have circulation on three sides with the fourth attached to a wall. These types of unit are ideally suited to create an informal seating area for guests or providing a breakfast bar for the family to gather around.
The cooking area
The cooker is a key part of any kitchen, but if you are specifically planning a social kitchen there are a few further points to think about.
A suitable extractor fan should be seen as an essential in order to ensure that any potent smells don’t permeate the room. However, if you are likely to be cooking in the presence of guests then it is also important to think about an extractor fan with a noise reduction system to minimize the noise of the motor.
A larger range cooker may also be a better option should you be planning on having several different items on the go at once.
Even the most social of kitchens can be destroyed by clutter on worktops, which makes effective storage solutions a key decision in any kitchen purchase. Appliance garages can be used to house items that are used frequently such as toasters and food processors. These are typically closed behind bi-folded or shutter doors making them easily accessible but helping the kitchen to maintain clean lines.
There are now a huge array of storage solutions from simple built in cutlery units to appliance garages and hydraulic appliance lifts, so make sure you discuss these elements with any kitchen designer to ensure that the kitchen fits in around your family’s cooking requirements.
Lighting to set the mood
The amount of lighting and the type needed depends on the size of the room and the color plans used as well as the amount of natural light. As well as overall light for illuminating the entire kitchen, consider task lighting above key work surfaces, such as the cooking area. Lighting can also be used to make a focal point of a particular piece of furniture or area of the kitchen. Island units can also be brought into the spotlight by placing two or three pendant lights above.
Some people also integrate ‘mood’ lighting in to their rooms – this is not particularly practical during food preparation, but it can set the right tone for a party, so it is an added extra not instead of practical and functional lighting solutions.
If you are planning your new kitchen it is important to think about both form and function to ensure that you can get the most from the space. With such an array of options available today, it is worth sitting down with a reputable designer to ensure that you create a kitchen that is truly suited to your needs.