It has been said that the kitchen is the heart of the home. In most homes, it is one of the most used rooms — a popular place for family and friends to gather and socialize.
However, for those looking for independence and safety, the kitchen is a space that can have many barriers. From hard-to-reach shelves to poorly lit preparation areas, the kitchen isn’t always the most efficient place in the home.
The ‘work triangle’
The correct functional layout of the kitchen is necessary for family members to achieve maximum efficient, safe and enjoyable use. When looking at the overall layout of the space, a kitchen’s basic functional design can be considered a work triangle. This triangle can be broken down into three distinct areas representing each of its points as follows:
- The refrigerator: cold storage area
- The sink: cleaning and preparation area
- The cooktop or range and oven: food cooking area
Placing the three points of the triangle too far away from each other can result in wasted effort and time in meal preparation; placing them too close together results in an inefficient and cramped place to work. Supporting the three main points of the triangle are storage areas for food, pots, pans, dishes, utensils, small appliances, etc.
The basic work triangle can take shape in four ways, including the corridor or galley design; peninsula design; L-shaped design; and U-shaped design, which often incorporates an island in the overall design.
In corridor/galley, peninsula, and U-shaped designs with an island, where the cooktop is located across from the sink, it should be noted that this can create a potentially dangerous situation. In order to transfer hot liquid and food-filled containers from the cooktop to the sink, the pot has to be moved over a potentially large space, which can lead to accidental drops resulting in severe burn injuries.
More information about kitchen layouts can be found at livablehomes.org under the “Home Tour” section covering “The Kitchen.”
One of the most important design and functional elements in any kitchen is the lighting. Select only high quality, energy-efficient, bright and glare-free LED type 3,000 to 3,500 kelvin color range, ambient and task lighting fixtures, which are essential for function and safety. High-quality, shadow-free lighting of all task areas is key to a good kitchen design.
Progress Lighting manufactures a great selection of well made, beautiful, energy-efficient linear and compact LED light fixtures. Consider adding a skylight with a light diffusing lens to produce diffused, natural lighting during the day.
It is important to take serious consideration of the various available flooring options for kitchens.
Although porcelain or ceramic tile can be good looking, it is hard to stand on for long periods of time, especially for someone with lower back or hip problems. Some of the better options include high-quality 11- to 20-gauge sheet vinyl or vinyl plank, or quality laminate or high-quality pre-finished wood plank flooring.
Whatever flooring is chosen, it is important to select one that is easy to clean and maintain, while also durable, sustainable, slip-resistant, and reasonably comfortable to walk, roll, and stand on.
Although design choices are plentiful, make sure to do your homework, so that the final choice of layout, materials and products ultimately will make the kitchen space efficient, safe, sustainable, and most importantly, all-age friendly.