The kitchen is the heart of your home. It’s where delicious meals are prepared and families and friends gather. In today’s homes, the kitchen is often the focal point of your living area. It needs to be both highly functional, and beautifully stylish. Read on and discover clever organisation and storage tricks to create a kitchen that supports the daily buzz of family life, and oozes style as well.
Triangles and zones
Creating a streamlined kitchen layout is vital. Architects and designers often use the kitchen triangle rule to plan a kitchen’s layout. The concept is that a kitchen’s most important elements – the fridge, cooktop and sink, are laid out to form a triangle. And while much has changed from when the concept originated in the 1940s, it remains a good place to begin in considering your kitchen’s layout.
Taking it a step further, today designers will create zones within a kitchen that recognise the many other functions of a modern kitchen. Even if your kitchen layout is already planned as a part of your build plans, considering how to ‘zone’ your kitchen is still integral in creating a space that works for you and your family.
Types of zones to consider:
- Food storage (refrigerator, pantry)
- Food prep (cooktop, oven, microwave, small appliances, cutting boards, sharp knives, mixing bowls, spices)
- Pots, pans, fry pans
- Cleaning & waste (dishwasher, sink, cleaning supplies, garbage and compost bins)
- Plates & cutlery (glasses, cutlery, plates, bowls)
- Baking zone (measuring cups, flour, sugar, mixing bowls, baking sheets)
- Entertaining zone (spirits, mixers, platters, napkins, coasters, serving platters)
- Small appliance zone (coffee maker, kettle, toaster, food processor, juicer, slow cooker, blender)
- Medication zone (daily medications, vitamins, first-aid)
- Homework zone (desktop surface, laptop, files, pens)
- Family hub zone (keys, mail, take away menus, calendar)
There is arguably no other area in your home that needs to store such a wide-variety of items. Breakable, perishable, bulky, often used, seldom used, heavy, tiny, the list goes on.
Creating storage solutions based on your zones is a good place to start. This will help you to decide where certain items should go. Having sharp knives near chopping boards, pots near the stove top and cleaning products under the sink will help to make your life easier.
Top tip for parents with young children! Keep plastic cups in a low drawer or cupboard near your fridge’s water dispenser, that way kids can get their own water whenever they like.
Drawers vs. cupboards
Today, many people are choosing drawers over cupboards. The beauty of drawers is that they can be pulled out so you can easily retrieve items stored at the back. Drawers can also be used in your pantry. Ask your builder about pantry drawer units that fit snuggly inside your pantry, allowing you to pull each shelf out to store and access everything easily – making the most of the space you have.
Maximising corner space
Corners can pose a tricky problem in kitchens – if you opt for drawers, there’s a triangle of wasted space in the corner, yet cupboards can be too deep making finding anything stored right at the back of the corner impossible. That’s where corner storage units come in! Designed to maximise every inch of previously unusable corner space, corner storage units can pull right out, or spin around in the space so that you can reach everything in the cupboard.
Quality, hard-wearing units can be costly, but the amount of accessible space they create makes them an invaluable addition to any kitchen.
There is a wide range of clever storage accessories available for your new kitchen, all designed to organise and streamline your life. From drawer inserts and frames for your cutlery, box systems for pantries, dividers for your plates and platters, purpose-made spice containers and racks and pull-out bin organisers. And while we would always recommend choosing quality accessories, remember stylish baskets or plastic containers can also do the job nicely if your budget is a little tight.
Ensuring your kitchen is easy to clean is just another way to make your life easier.
Your benchtop is one of the hardest working parts of the kitchen. It’s also one of the most visible. It’s important to research all of the benchtop options available to you. Benchtops can be expensive, but be wary of cheaper options, they can be very porous, meaning they stain and scratch easily. You won’t regret investing in a quality benchtop that will stand up to the rigours of family life, while still looking beautiful.
Ask your builder for samples of cabinetry finishes. High gloss materials may look amazing when they’re clean and shiny, but it won’t be long before they’re covered with finger prints and food smears. Check the finishes in different lights and angles as well. This is especially important if you’re looking at ‘touch to open’ doors – although the handle-less look is streamlined and sleek, it can be a hard look to maintain, especially if there are little fingers in and around your kitchen!
Splashbacks are often used as a design feature in a kitchen, but it’s not always just about looks. We’d recommend considering how easy your splashback will be to clean. They get a good work out with splatters and grease (after all, that’s their function - to protect the wall behind from the messy cook top activity). If you’re opting for tiles, make sure the grout is grease-proof and easy to clean. Remember, smaller tiles mean more grout to maintain! Glass splashbacks can be a good option – not only can it create a mirror-like effect through light reflection, but they are easy to wipe clean using a household window and glass cleaner.
Lighting and electrical
Your kitchen layout will include a detailed electrical plan showing the exact locations of lights and power points. It’s important to understand what’s included and whether it supports how you want your kitchen to work. Talk to your builder about any available upgrades.
Look at where the power points are located. Consider your zones and whether there are adequate power points in the right areas – close to coffee machines, toasters, blenders. Consider double power points in high-use areas, or ask your builder about innovative pop-up benchtop power outlets that are hidden in your bench surface, helping to maintain a sleek, un-cluttered look.
If you’re considering creating a homework zone, you’ll want to include a power point with charging capabilities as well.
The lighting in a kitchen can be both functional and ambient. LED strips recessed in above a splash back and under a rangehood will throw a soft, but practical light onto your stove top. Think about lighting the inside of your pantry – like the fridge, having lights that automatically come on when you open the doors can help you to find items easily and quickly.
Pendant lights over kitchen islands remain on trend. And it’s easy to see why, not only are they practical, but the right fitting will also add a stylish design feature to the space. Always check that the light from the pendant is thrown mainly downwards, and that the fitting is able to be dimmed to a more ambient level. That way, you can use the space for entertaining once you’ve finished preparing a meal. Despite your new home having many designated ‘entertaining areas’, you’ll be surprised how often you’ll find yourself gathering with friends and family around the kitchen island.