So what, exactly, makes a good kitchen design? Well, there are some very good guidelines governing placement of appliances, traffic patterns, lineal feet of cabinets and countertops, and universal access. (You can find helpful information on those topics and more in the trade section of the National Kitchen & Bath Association's web site: www.nkba.org.)
Beyond that, there are two key areas that you should pay attention to when planning a new kitchen. The first is traffic patterns, and kitchen islands play a big role here. When well designed, islands can help keep friends and family out of the way of the cook, create distinct work areas, and provide space for eating and socializing.
However, not every kitchen is right for an island. You need several feet of space on each side and you need to make sure that you won't always be ducking around it to get to, say, the refrigerator. One good test is to set up boxes or sawhorses and plywood to represent your proposed island. Be sure to leave them there for several days so you get a good idea of how an island will affect traffic in your kitchen.
The other function to pay attention to is lighting. Try to incorporate three to four different kinds of light: natural, ambient, task, and accent.
- Natural light can come from both windows in the kitchen itself as well as from adjoining rooms.
- Ambient light is generally provided by ceiling-lights that are spaced to create an even level of light throughout the room.
- Task lighting is what keeps you from working in your own shadow. This usually takes the form of under-cabinet fixtures to light countertops and pendant lights or spotlights to light an island.
- Accent lights for kitchens include halogen "pucks" placed inside glass-front cabinets or light ropes run along the tops of cabinets.
Islands and lighting affect both how a kitchen looks and how it functions. And that, perhaps, is the key to good kitchen design: consider both form and function.
Reprinted with permission of Hometime®. For further information about kitchen remodeling, tune in to Hometime or visit www.hometime.com. © Hometime 2003, all rights reserved.