Information Kitchen Design - Best Practices Consolidated in One Single Article, Read Now

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Information Kitchen Design - Best Practices Consolidated in One Single Article, Read Now

The article on the left was published in today's Deccan Herald. It encapsulates and consolidates all the Kitchen Design Best practices mentioned across different posts on this blog. Reproducing it below for my readers ... here goes...
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It’s that place in your home where you are likely to spend over 10 percent of your working life and the one that gets the most footfalls. It houses more gadgetry than you have in your car and is one of the most complex spaces to design. The smart among you may have guessed it already, for the laity - I am talking about your Kitchen.

A Kitchen needs to be ergonomic, utilitarian, maximizing storage space as well as good looking all at the same time. The fact that the kitchen has "hot spaces", "wet spaces", "work spaces", "wash spaces" …  (I guess you get the idea) complicates matters further.

If you are in the process of setting up your new home or just remodeling it, considerable attention will be demanded by your Kitchen. While Kitchen Design is too vast a topic to cover in a single article, the simple design tips below are meant to make your Kitchen design journey both enjoyable & easier.

Basics of Kitchen Design - The Zones

A Kitchen can broadly be broken down into 5 zones - Preparation, Cooking, Baking, Cleaning & Storage. The core idea behind Kitchen design based on zones is to ensure that each zone can be
independently operated without one having to criss-cross through other zones thereby optimizing efficiency. For example – the Dishwasher should be placed next to the sink and the trash cabinet to form an integrated Cleaning Zone, Utensils and Cooking instruments should be under or next to the cook top (Cooking Zone), The Preparation zone should be close to both the Cooking and Baking zone so that you don’t need to walk to the cooktop after having rolled the chapatti or - a very common mistake that folks make – that there is no counter close enough to put down the hot tray fresh out of the Oven. Additionally the space for long term storage of grain, pulses, oils, namkeens etc. (Storage zone) should be away from the Cleaning Zone, specifically the trash bin, to avoid any chance of odor contamination


What is the height of a Kitchen counter?

A number of deemed architects have missed admission to top architecture schools just due to a “wrong answer” to that question. Basic as it may sound, the height of the Kitchen counter can range anywhere from 32 to 36 inches. A high counter allows more storage space underneath; it also ensures that any appliance such as a dishwasher fits properly under the counter. However if you are 5’2’ or shorter a high counter will get uncomfortable to work on and you may be better off with a 32 – 33 incher. In summary (1) Optimize the counter height based on your own height (2) If you are planning any under - counter appliances then read the appliance manual and keep the counter height accordingly and (3) Don’t go under 32” and over 36”.


Planning for the Appliances

The exact dimensions of the appliances – those you plan to keep and the ones you will buy, should be factored in during the Design phase itself lest you end up stuck with an appliance AND an un-matching hollow
The fixed appliances like the Hob, Chimney, Dishwasher, Microwave etc. need a dedicated electrical connection to be housed in a way that the wires are not visible. Modern Hobs have an electrically operated ignition system and most folks miss out on planning an under the counter electrical point for the same. Also, if you cook Non Vegetarian at home then ensure that the Chimney has a suction capacity of 1000 Cum/ Hr or higher
For the movable appliances like the Grinder, Hand mixer, beater etc. you should ideally keep 2 sockets spaced out above each counter. Ensure also that you have a socket close to the hob so that the hand blender can be used with dishes “on the flame” as well.


Long term storage and that Clumsy Cylinder

Whatever be the size of your Kitchen, somehow there is never enough space to keep the grill that you take out once in 3 months or the table mats meant strictly for special occasions and all the things that
you will end up accumulating over the years. It is therefore prudent to plan bulk storage spaces from
the start. Tall units and corners are ideal for bulk storage. For accessibility in the corners, solutions such as magic corner units are popular and readily available however if you do not want to invest in one then just a regular shelf in the corner will do. A Tall unit is specially recommended - plan one with regular shelves instead of a pantry unit to maximize storage space 
LPG Cylinders take up primary real estate within the Kitchen and while it is the easiest to put them under the cooktop, the decision is definitely not the wisest or the safest. If you are blessed with a utility then house the cylinders in there and connect them to the cooktop with a copper pipe – this will save you prime space under the cooktop. The cylinders now in the open will also ensure that your family is safe in case of that rare gas leak. However if you do not have a prized utility, keep the operational cylinder in that corner space that we just talked about and the secondary cylinder somewhere far & away. Remember - keeping both the operational and the secondary LPG cylinder together inside the Kitchen is a potential recipe for disaster.

Material to use for the cabinets & shutters?

From MDF to Water proof ply to Polywood, Steel & beyond. With the huge material choice available in the market today this is perhaps the most difficult as well as the most important decisions you will need to make.

Cabinets:
If you want your Kitchen to last beyond its 3rd birthday then the only real choice for the Kitchen cabinet material is between Water Proof Ply (Technically called BWR 303 Grade Ply....ISI Marked preferred) and Steel.
When choosing between the two remember that while Ply cabinets can be modeled at home Steel cabinets will need to be procured ready-made. If you plan to use steel cabinets then ensure that the steel is 304 grade and comes from a known manufacturer.
Cabinets in MDF & HDF – widely used in the west, are available in the market today, however these do not measure up to the rigors of Indian cooking and use – especially if your kitchen is fully or partially maid managed.

Shutters:
Any of MDF, Hardwood, Marine Ply or Polywood work well for the shutters. However if you have a high traffic or maid managed kitchen then it is wise to go for Hardwood or Ply. However shutters in Particle board are a definite no-no.

Countertop – Beyond just Granite

The market has moved far beyond a time when the countertop meant Granite. Nowadays Kitchen counters are available both in Natural Stone (Marble & Granite) & Artificial Stone (Quartz & Acrylic Solid Surfaces). Granite & Quartz fit best against the needs of a typical Indian Kitchen as they are both stain resistant & hard (but not brittle) however the colour options in Granite & Quartz are fairly limited. If you are high on the maintenance side of things then Marble & Solid Surfaces (sometimes referred to as Corian) are great options as they offer exquisite finishes and a splash of colours to choose from.

That dovetails well into the last, but not the least important subject – that of colours & lighting. It is said “to each his own” but in the department of colours there is still some method to get that look and a spacious feel to the Kitchen. Follow the two simple rules below when choosing colours for your kitchen (1) darks make spaces look small while lights make them look larger and (2) A single colour may be monotonous and more than three too colourful to the eye.
Therefore if you are planning dark shutters then balance them out with a lighter shade of the backsplash and glass shutters in the wall cabinet. On the other hand if you plan to have your Kitchen in shades of white then you can select a fairly vibrant colour for the backsplash


Lighting 

Specialty lighting has a huge impact on the overall look and feel of the Kitchen. Nowadays with the advent of reasonably priced LED’s it is not even a huge burden on the pocket. Plan for an LED strip
running along the backsplash and, if you are the “new age experimental” type, next to the skirting at the bottom. Any wall cabinets with a glass shutter should also have a spotlight.

The above should give you quite a headstart in kitchen planning - good enough for you to enjoy both the journey now and the outcome for a long time to come – here’s wishing you happy homemaking.

Other posts on Kitchen design that you may also want to go through are linked below

http://www.eyjamasliza.blogspot.com/2010/06/so-what-is-modular-kitchen-and-some.html
http://www.eyjamasliza.blogspot.com/2011/08/home-design-vaastu-shastra-episode-2.html

Signing off

NM


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