Do you ever feel these days that your kitchen is supposed to do more than ever? It’s the drop-off zone after work and school, electronics and cord collector, mini-office, dining and entertaining hub, and even pet center. And that doesn’t even touch what a kitchen is supposed to be for – cooking!
If you’re looking at your dated, cluttered kitchen, you might be asking yourself how to make everything work for today’s busy, connected families and individuals. Here are a few things that might help you prioritize what you really want out of your new kitchen refresh or remodel:
Determine How You Live
Let’s be real. We’d all love our kitchens to look like the spotless pictures we obsess over. But miles of pristine countertop without a crumb or a dish in sight is not the way most of us live. Spend some time watching how you really use your kitchen space. Make a list of activities you actually do there, not what you think you should be doing.
Especially watch where the every-day clutter builds up. Do dishes pile up on a certain counter, while homework, bills, purses and more always end up on another? Do cereal boxes park themselves nearest the fridge and snacks by the entrance to the family room? Rather than try to retrain everyone’s habits, talk with your designer about the natural flow you’d like in your kitchen, and consider dedicating those spaces to the function they’re already trying to serve. For instance, the dishwasher and sink might be placed near where dishes naturally end up. You might maximize your makeshift landing zone with cabinet and storage solutions in that space. Add a charging drawer to keep electronics and cords corralled. Have lower cabinets and drawers to stash the inevitable school and craft supplies that come with kids. Use upper cabinets for the adults with places to organize papers and the miscellany of living.
Examine Your Future
Are children still small, growing up and moving out, or maybe moving back in? How about aging parents or frequent guests? As you look to the years ahead, consider concepts such as universal design in your planning. This elegant strategy makes the tools and spaces you use every day accessible no matter your age and ability. Easy-to- reach-and-open drawers and cabinets can help small children be independent, as well as older family members who might have mobility limitations. Like its name implies, universal design takes everything into consideration, from cabinets, drawers and hardware that are beautiful and easy to use, to appliance choices, flooring and even task and ambient lighting perfect for the space.
Think Outside the Kitchen
Whether space is at a premium for your home or not, your remodel could open up new areas and relocate some of the activities now centered in the kitchen. An adjacent mudroom can be a lifesaver. With space for all the things that come in the door, you’ll be able to keep bags, papers, shoes, jackets and even pet supplies in a functional area that will make the rest of your kitchen and home breathe a sigh of relief.
A butler’s pantry is another perennially good idea. Keep your kitchen dedicated to the tools you use every day with a separate space for those special occasion pieces. Consider cabinets to hang linens, cupboards and drawers customized to specific items, perhaps even climate-controlled wine storage.
Your kitchen should reflect the way you live your life every day. Whether the changes you want to make are small or extensive, you can achieve the comfortable, stylish kitchen that meets your needs for today and the future.