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What Makes A Kitchen Functional?

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If you've spent any time watching HGTV, you've probably seen folks wanting to renovate their kitchens to be more "functional." If you're like most people, you probably wondered what exactly it would take to make a kitchen more functional. Does it take a larger fridge, or more cabinet space? Sometimes such small projects can fix functionality problems, but sometimes it takes a lot more. If you're planning a kitchen renovation, take a look below to create a fabulous design that may just boost the value of your home.

What is "Flow"?

The word "flow" can be used to mean many things when it comes to interior design. In the case of a kitchen, it means the way people move from surface to surface while they are cooking. Consider the following routine kitchen procedure:

  • Many recipes begin with prep work, such as washing and dicing vegetables. For this, the cook needs to use their sink, their counters, and their garbage disposal. They may need to make several trips to the fridge and pantry to get various ingredients.
  • Next comes the cooking. Depending on the recipe, the cook may still need to make frequent trips to the fridge or pantry, or they may need to strain vegetables or pasta over the sink. 
  • Serving is next, wherein many cooks begin their cleanup by taking dirty dishes and utensils to the sink. 
  • After the feast, dishes are carted to the sink and washed up, counters and the stove top are wiped down, and the cook can finally retire for the evening.

As you can see, there is a lot of moving around that goes on during food prep. With a badly laid out kitchen, a cook is subject to a lot of inconvenience as they try to prepare their meal. To see if your kitchen needs a layout overhaul, draw a sketch of your kitchen layout and use arrows to represent your movement through the above routine. Do you have to walk around things often? If so, it's time to change the layout.

How to Create Flow

There are several styles of kitchens that are seen in North American homes. Two of the most common are galley-style kitchens and chef's kitchens. 

In a Galley Kitchen: Galley kitchens are laid out in a more or less straight line. Usually, the sink is on one side of a hallway-like layout, the oven and range on the other. Creating good flow in a galley kitchen mainly consists of ensuring you have counter space both near the stove and the sink for food prep, and avoiding obstruction of free movement. It is very rare that a galley kitchen can accommodate an island, no matter how stylish they are. 

In a Chef's Kitchen: A chef's kitchen is usually laid out in a square. A popular way to efficiently plan the placement of the fridge, sink and stove is in a triangle. That way, as you cook you need only move in one straight line from appliance to appliance. When deciding where to place an island, consider how you will need to move through the space, and how it will divide the kitchen from the rest of the house. 

In Either Style: Keep in mind how you will move as you take care of your daily kitchen tasks. Do you want to walk across the room for your pots and pans? They are best stored near the stove. Unloading the dishwasher only to carry a precarious stack of plates and bowls across the kitchen is inconvenient, so locating your cupboard storage near the dishwasher cuts down the the risk of a spectacular dish accident.

Remodeling your kitchen can be a great opportunity to make it work better for you. Talk to your contractor about creating a design that makes sense.