The kitchen is the heart of most homes.
This is where you eat together, dance around each other trying to make breakfast and often, this space forms a workspace for everything from homework to crafts. If ever a room had to fulfil a number of uses, the kitchen is surely it!
The idea of the perfect family kitchen often comes up in interior design magazines and blogs. The only problem with this is that every family is different. Though the idea of a perfect family kitchen is certainly tempting, before you contact a kitchen company and start ripping everything out, it’s important to define what exactly a perfect kitchen means to you.
The way you use your kitchen, the number of pets you have and even the kitchen gadgetry you enjoy playing with most will all have an impact on the design choices you make. This kitchen should be about you and your priorities, not the latest fashions or fads in the culinary world.
So, what sort of priorities should you consider when you design your family kitchen?
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No matter how many people, children and pets are using your kitchen on a daily basis, it should always be as easy to clean as possible. In an ideal world, everyone who uses the kitchen should leave it in the beautiful state they found it so making it easy for everyone to chip in is vital.
Since cooking quite often gets messy, the right flooring should be a top priority. Carpet is out, here since you will end up spending a fortune on cleaning it properly and removing tomato sauce stains. Instead, consider hard floor types such as wood, tiles and linoleum. These floors are much easier to stay on top of and most spills can be mopped up in a moment.
Your work surfaces should also be easy to clean. Stone or lino tops are a good option as they too are easy to wipe clean but you might also like to consider an induction hob. Yes, you will have to change your pans to make sure that they are magnetic but you will win a smooth glass top which is significantly easier to clean than in between the rings of a regular hob.
While tiles have been a common choice for kitchen walls for a long time now, there is a big problem: the grouting is not so easy to clean. Instead of using tiles, you should consider using a glass or stainless steel backsplash. These materials don’t require any grouting and are a lot easier to maintain with little more than a damp cloth.
Your kitchen should have everything you need – including a kitchen sink! But finding the right sink depends on your needs. Since the sink quite often forms the centre point of any cleaning operation, you might like to consider the size, depth and material that would be best for your particular home. Adding an instant hot water tap is a trend at the moment and since so many people drink tea and coffee all day, you can see why this is rapidly becoming a kitchen essential.
Our pets are often our greatest weaknesses but my oh my can they make a mess! Apart from training your pets to wipe their feet before they come inside (good luck!), a simple way to minimize the mess is to create a little nook for their water and food bowls. There are a few designs that you might like to consider from having a small space underneath an island unit to having a drawer that pulls out when it’s needed. If you’re refitting anyway, it’s worth considering these ideas if you want to stop tripping over the dog biscuits every morning!
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Every room in the house should have a natural flow to it so that you can move about without having to really think. This means that you should never be squeezing by anything or having to work hard to get at something you need.
In the kitchen, the golden triangle rule is a good way to achieve natural flow. The sink, fridge and oven are all within the golden triangle so that you can move from one to the next without stretching yourself. In a galley kitchen, these appliances might all be in a line, but ideally, you will be able to create a design closer to the triangle so that you can simply turn on the spot. Putting a hob or oven on an island is a really nice way to incorporate the cook during dinner parties too.
In a sense, the kitchen is a glorified storage room. Every cupboard and drawer is likely to be jam-packed full of things from baking ingredients to tins, comestibles to lunchboxes and fun gadgets. Organisation is key.
When you are designing your kitchen, you should think about the kind of things you need to store and what you want to access frequently. Having cupboards right up to the ceiling is a good idea (since you don’t need to worry about dust and muck gathering at the top) and you can use the top shelves for things you only use rarely.
If you have young children, you might like to think about how you can facilitate their learning. Cooking is an essential skill and teaching kids basic recipes from a young age is a good way to ground them as an adult. Since few schools have the facilities to teach basic cookery skills, it really is down to parents to do their best.
Using a small table at their height is a great way to introduce under 5’s to cooking as they can see what is going on. You can also set them up out of reach of any potential dangers in the kitchen such as the oven or sharp knives. Teaching small kids to cook is a lot easier when they have their own kitchen things (think plastic knives and cookie cutters) so it is worth thinking about even in the planning stages of your design.
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Gadgets and Gizmos (Aplenty)
It turns out that people have quite different views of what qualifies as a gadget since this list includes things like chopping boards and wooden spoons. In the most basic sense, a gadget is something that makes life in the kitchen a bit brighter so by that logic, a spoon would count, despite being a bit obvious.
On the flip side of this, there are plenty of gadgets that simply aren’t necessary in most kitchens but you obviously want them anyway. Why on earth you would need a specific gadget to scramble an egg when a pan and a spatula would do just fine, is entirely beyond comprehension. And the idea of a banana corer is more baffling than anything else.
The balance, then, is working out which gadgets will actually make a difference in your kitchen and are therefore worth the space and the money. A stick blender is a really good place to start as this will allow you to make smoothies and soups with a wave of the wand. But, if you want to upgrade, a freestanding mixer with a blender attachment is a good investment.
If you have older children and teenagers, a toastie maker will improve your lunches by a mile. In fact, if there is one gadget every student should have access to, it’s a toastie maker. Kids love making different toastie combinations and the novelty just doesn’t wear off. There are loads of awesome toastie recipes from savoury to sweet and since most sandwich ingredients are normally pretty cheap, you can have fun experimenting together.
For busy families, the slow cooker is probably the life-saver you are looking for. The basic principle is that you put everything you need into the cooker in the morning and then simply let it cook all day while you are out. You can even get wifi-enabled slow cookers so that you can effectively use your phone to control cooking temperatures and times remotely. But the real benefit of a slow cooker is that if you are all rushing in and out in the evening, there is something hot and ready to go the second you are.
When you get down to the most fundamental aspects of the perfect family kitchen, what you are really looking for is a room that works for you. When the room is right, you will find that the whole family is more relaxed, you eat better and enjoy spending time in the kitchen together. This is a family room so do take everyone’s needs into account.
The design process is usually a fun way to get all your ideas on paper but don’t be too restrictive in the early stages. Broaden your mind to the possibilities you have and don’t be lured by shiny magazines if that lifestyle isn’t really for you. Take your time, consider how you use your kitchen now and enjoy!
Disclosure: This is a partnered post