The modern kitchen is the hearth of the contemporary home. It is the fire around which family and friends gather to bond over a common love for food. This is how things have always been but contemporary life has never been more complicated and it can often feel quite disconnected. That is why a modern kitchen design needs to account for these changes in how we use our homes and promote ease-of-use, while opening itself up to the rest of the house so it continues to maintain its position as the beating heart of the home.
Think of it as bringing the hospitality industry into your home. What design principles can you steal from the experts to make sure your home works as well as the most professional of restaurants? Of course, utility must be matched with durability and beauty in design. Kitchens and their associated entertaining spaces cannot just be beautiful spaces, rather, your kitchen design must touch your heart, invoke creativity and foster stronger relationships.
Creating flow in your modern kitchen design
One of the most fundamental aspects of effective kitchen design is creating a proper ‘flow’ in your kitchen as well as in how it relates to surrounding spaces (such as living spaces). Flow is the way in which a kitchen’s layout guides someone through it, how people interact with the kitchen and how it is embraced as part of the home as a whole.
The most effective kitchen layouts were probably those that you would see in Downton Abbey, while modern kitchens have shrunk so much that flow is often sacrificed or not even considered. When selecting fitted kitchens or talking with an architect/designer, be sure to discuss this idea of flow and how your kitchen will work with you rather than against you.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing the flow of your kitchen:
- How many people use the kitchen at once? If you are the sole cook, perhaps consider reducing the amount of bench space you require.
- What kinds of meals do you cook? If you cook elaborate meals that require many pans on the go at once, this may change what sort of appliances you use.
- Short vs longterm goals. Design your kitchen for yourself more than anyone else, especially if you plan on staying in the home for 10 or so years. It is most likely those that take over the house will change the kitchen anyway, as it is one of the most renovated areas of a house.
- Consider storage in your layout. This may mean creating a closed off section to create more storage space, sacrificing on the open plan feel of your kitchen.
- The sink dictates all. The sink is the hub of the kitchen and as such should be placed strategically. Does it have a view? Do you want one? Is it well lit? Can you converse while at the sink? Is it located near a work bench and the stove? What size do you require?
- Elbow room. One of the largest concerns when for modern kitchen design layout is making sure there is enough room for multiple people.
- The little things. Will you create bench space next to the fridge to unload food? Will the pans be near the stove? Will the stove be facing away from the communal area or facing it? Think of ways to reduce the chance of you running around the kitchen like a chicken without a head every time you go to cook a meal. Avoid having appliances face each other so that the kitchen becomes blocked by multiple people during a party.
- Entries and exits. Be sure that people won’t be interrupting you to get in and out of the room. Have multiple entries/exits for the successful flow of people in your kitchen.
Inviting light into your modern kitchen design
There are different ways to light your home depending on the room, the architecture and your tastes. The modern kitchen can adopt a number of these different lighting options, such as utility/specified lighting in the form of LEDs for kitchen sinks, rangehoods etc. as well as ambient lighting or accent lighting. The many spaces of a kitchen provide many options in how you both show off as well as use the space. Certain lighting can also be a lifesaver when your walking around in your socks and don’t want to stub your toe.
Also look at bringing as much natural light as you possibly can to your kitchen, whether it be through windows, skylights or tubular skylights.
Creating effective work spaces
What impact will your workspaces have on how you use your kitchen and surrounding areas? There are arguments either way for having the kitchen, and specifically a workspace such as a kitchen island, as a dominant feature of your living room/kitchen area. The more dominant a kitchen island and workspace is, the more likely visitors and family will revolve around this space. Do this at your own risk, however, as it will mean a higher chance of clutter accumulating in the area.
Consider a stove in a space where you will commune with others, rather than isolating you. This may mean you can’t put in a rangetop, but you could put in a fan in the ceiling as an alternative.
What sort of cook are you? If you need lots of time and preparation space, you will need to account for this.
Reflecting your tastes through materials and design
Materials can not only influence the look and feel of your modern kitchen design but also the usability of your workspace. Consider using surfaces such as wood to be used as cutting/work benches that will age with the use of the kitchen. Alternatively, make bold and resolute statements with large slabs of various materials, whether they be stone, marble or metals.