When was the last time you walked through a kitchen showroom?
…Were you walked through by a salesperson or by a COOK?
Yes, a salesperson will have read the most recent product reviews. He or she will know their stuff about brands, finishes and appliance specifications. They’ll be able to talk to you about wear and tear of specific plumbing selections, and help you piece together a realistic budget.
If they aren’t regular cooks themselves, however, you’ll be missing out on some ESSENTIAL lifestyle insights.
The growing trend is that more of us are cooking at home these days. Part of that is an increased interest in health. Another part is all the TIME we spent at home in 2020!!
People got used to cooking at home more and eating out less, though, and many families started picking up on the benefits of using their kitchen more. They save money, they eat healthier, and they eat more of what they like.
For a little advice from someone who LOVES to cook (and designs kitchen remodels, too…) I’ve collected some thoughts here to walk you through the biggest considerations when designing a kitchen specifically to cook.
What a “Cooking Kitchen” Needs
Here are a dozen design elements that are game-changers for a functional kitchen. These are the items that I recommend most often…but every case will be different, and depending on one cook’s priorities, these recommendations can often change.
Still…if you’re looking for a little inspiration today, this list will get you going.
Cooking at home more surprisingly means cooking less often for some families. It sounds impossible, but this trend is the result of more meal planning and health-conscious eating.
Cooking bigger quantities of food less frequently, of course, requires MORE storage and organizational space than ever before.
Just look at this recent kitchen remodel we did… This family gained SO much practical space by building custom cabinets into their island…
Custom cabinetry is your best opportunity to make more storage happen in a way that fits your kitchen and needs. Take a walk through DeWil’s 3D showroom to see for yourself…
Once food is cooked in big batches, of course, you also need the right fridge and freezer storage for all that food!! Read more about how to select kitchen appliances to get my take on fridges…
Of course, appliances bring me to…
Cooks spend more on appliances!
Yes, cooks DO spend more on appliances.
And even if you aren’t a world-renowned chef…there are items you should splurge on if you like to cook. Whether you’re buying a refrigerator or a blender, appliance shopping opens up a WORLD of “need” versus “want.” It’s hard to know what to splurge on, but if you need a push…here’s what I recommend:
Most of us do the bulk of our cooking on the stovetop, which makes this single area of your kitchen one of the most functionally valuable. From a pot of pasta to a pan of sautéed veggies, you deserve a stovetop with the size and cooking technology that makes the best food for your family.
In some households, the number-one consideration is the size and number of burners. Some households can benefit particularly well from induction burners, too. Induction ranges use magnetic energy transfers to cook food FASTER and with significantly less energy loss from the heat source to the pot or pan.
Energy savings, anyone?!
Plus, induction cooking distributes heat more evenly. Your food retains more of its nutrients and dinner is ready faster every time!
Built-in appliances increase a home’s resale value. They also support a classic, timeless look that blends right into the décor…because, well, built-ins are part of the décor!
There are cooking implications to built-ins, too. A counter-depth fridge is a great example. This fridge installation is almost flush with the cabinets, which does WONDERS for mobility around the space as you cook.
Built-in and counter-depth fridges sometimes aren’t as deep as free-standing fridges, however, which undoes some of its benefits when looking for more space…but hey, a double-fridge setup in your kitchen might be just what you need for a HUGE lifestyle luxury!
Designated task areas
Getting a kitchen layout right is THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR in a kitchen remodel. Your kitchen is the heart of your home, and its layout ensures a practical space you not only cook in but entertain in.
Maybe the kids do homework there, too…
Maybe it’s your “go-to” place to talk finances with your partner over coffee…
Maybe it’s where all your guests congregate, no matter how much you try to usher them to the living room!!
A thoughtful kitchen layout takes classic cooking-centric design and marries it with YOUR lifestyle and needs. The choices you make in design will make ALL the difference in getting the most out of your kitchen space.
Factors for comfort, practicality and even ergonomics include:
- The right amount of kitchen island space
- The right amount of counter space
- The right counter and island heights
- The right cabinet layout
- The right position for every appliance
- Enough storage
- Designated task areas
For designated task areas, think about how you cook and what you tend to cook. Do you do a lot of slicing and dicing? Do you like to wash the dishes while the food bakes or steams?
Talk to your designer about what to put where to make everything easier and almost “automatic” every time you cook.
Generally, you’ll need spaces for preparation, cooking and washing.
This touches on the “work triangle” first popularized in the 1920s as an efficiency standard in residential kitchens. Food preparation takes place next to the stovetop on a wide and free portion of the kitchen counter. The cleaning area, of course, is the sink. Food storage was considered the third part of the triangle.
Which brings me to…
An oldie, but a biggie…
Speaking of sinks…
The two-sink setup works better for ANY kitchen designed for cooking than a single-sink setup. It’s such a basic functional need to keep the dirty dishes out of the way when you prep food on the other side!
Just think…stopping in the MIDDLE of a task just to clean the sink so it can be used is NOT conducive for pleasurable cooking. Dirty dishes should go into the designated clean-up sink so the other can be used freely…
More entertaining…and better aesthetics
Whether you’re used to hosting a few guests at a time or you frequently have many friends and family over, a cook often finds his or her guests converging right in the kitchen.
If the kitchen isn’t designed for passers-by, this puts a HUGE cramp in your cooking style!
Adding specific design features to your kitchen can render it the perfect place to entertain while you keep working.
Specifically, I recommend…
Raising half your countertop to bar height is what I mean here. This gives you a surface to continue cooking while your guests (or family members wandering by in the normal course of a day) can use a space to stand or sit at stools.
If you add LED lights under counters (especially along the floors, or on hanging cabinets above the counter), this accent lighting can show off your beautiful backsplash or light a bar area to designate where guests should go…
Cabinet lighting combined with glass-front cabinets can BEAUTIFULLY highlight drinkware or bar mixings, too.
Pendulant lights overhead provides one of my favorite and most stunning design touches, too.
This, of course, is a MUST for any kitchen where entertaining takes place! People being able to seamlessly move from the kitchen to the living area means busting down walls in dated houses, and almost all contemporary homes now have this setup.
An open floorplan is not only more spacious, it also keeps you more connected with those friends and family members you invited in the first place!