How do I create a functional kitchen?

Alissa Ugolini—homify UK Alissa Ugolini—homify UK
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As it seems, thanks to glossy magazines and the dawn of interior design blogs, everyone knows how to create a beautiful kitchen, or at least has an idea of what one should look like. But, as they say, beauty is skin deep. What about all the other parts that make a kitchen work; that make it function effectively and efficiently for its user? Just like a well-oiled machine, all the cogs and wheels work together in unison to create a functional end product. Contrary to popular belief, this notion really does apply to a whole series of home design problems—a space should function as a one complete entity, rather than just single objects vying for the limelight. Before we begin this ideabook, let's take a moment to assess the the fundamental mistakes home owners make when it comes to kitchen design. Some of these may include:

- Not enough room to work

- Bad layout

- Insufficient storage space

- Poorly illuminated and ventilated

- Disfunctional waste management systems

Today on homify, we are going to assess the aforementioned problems with the goal of helping you to move forward and design the ultimate kitchen—one which is both visually stunning and, above all, highly functional. We are going to look beneath every cabinet, inside every drawer, and into every nook and cranny that you thought you would never look at.

Layout

Bishops Park SW6: modern Kitchen by CATO creative
CATO creative

Bishops Park SW6

CATO creative

Firstly, let's address the issues of space and layout. We may not all be blessed with the open and light-filled kitchen in the picture, but we can at least find a way to replicate it as closely as possible. Skylights are a brilliant way to bring a whole new lease on life to a dark and dank kitchen area. Aside from providing much needed access to solar gains, you can install those which have the ability to be opened, thus, killing two birds with one stone. Envisioning how you work, and most importantly, where you think both your guests and family will congregate is a great place to start. Whether you like it or not, even if there is a table and couch in the room, humans, by nature, love to stand around a kitchen island and chat. Here, essential appliances like the oven and stove top, are situated in direct proximity to the large kitchen island. This means the occupant can very easily work between these two important zones by simply turning around.

To see more great examples of space maximising home decorating ideas, click here.

Organised drawers

Bespoke Handmade Traditional Kitchen: modern Kitchen by Williams Ridout
Williams Ridout

Bespoke Handmade Traditional Kitchen

Williams Ridout

Drawers are a very important aspect in a kitchen. But the problem remains that unless they are adequately separated with spacers or dividers, a drawer can just become a bottomless pit of piled-up objects. How many times have you had to sift though spoons, whisks and spatulas to find the bottle opener that is ominously floating around the bottom? It can be pretty frustrating, and even somewhat dangerous, especially when there are other sharp objects intertwined within the mass of cutlery. In order to save your fingers, hands and sanity, you can install a clever drawer divider like the one pictured. Whether it is part of your storage unit, or placed in afterwards, you can rest assured that you will always be able to find exactly what you are looking for without any hassle or stress.

Storage heroes

Bespoke Handmade Traditional Kitchen: modern Kitchen by Williams Ridout
Williams Ridout

Bespoke Handmade Traditional Kitchen

Williams Ridout

Sufficient storage space is imperative in a functional kitchen. Not only does it free up the much needed bench space, but it also allows us to be able to easily locate objects when we need them, if they have a designated home! Whether these storage spaces are used for crockery or as a pantry, access to cupboards and shelves are a must have in any kitchen. It is unlikely you will have a functional kitchen if you don't have the capacity to be able to store the myriad of items and foodstuffs that we accumulate over time. For those who knowingly hoard objects like bower birds, make sure you clean the cupboards out every three months or so. This will mean that nothing will end up rotting or forgotten about at the very back of the cupboard.

Hidden treasures

These deep drawers are great for storing larger items like pots, pans and serving bowls. These are generally the items that you don't need everyday, or the heavy objects that are too hazardous to be placed up high. Pots and fry pans do look nice hung from the wall, but if you wish to keep your kitchen as spotless and clutter-free as possible, we would recommend taking advantage of a unit like this. The pictured style, which has no obvious handle, is great in homes that have small, curious children. You won't need to worry about your little ones getting their fingers caught in these sliding drawers, and you can rest assured that their tiny hands won't be strong enough to pull open the drawers and make a mess with the contents!

Aside from the obvious storage and layout solutions, let us now take a look at some of those hidden, and often forgotten, problems that are key factors in creating a functional kitchen.

Recyclable products

Food packaging and plastic are one of the most common waste products to end up in landfill. Because of their incredibly long, or non-existent decomposing time, we have to think a little more about the objects that fill our pantries and fridges. Glass water bottles are an excellent way to cut down on the amount of plastic you throw away, and they are also free of any nasty chemicals and bacteria that loom in reused plastic bottles. You can store any liquid you desire inside these bottles, and reuse them until they break! You can rest assure that health and well-being is being catered for, and of course, you can sleep easier at night knowing you have done your part to help the environment. A poor waste management system in any kitchen makes the space dysfunctional and messy. If you have the correct parameters in place to separate glass, plastic, paper and organics, you will definitely have one of the most functional kitchens out of all your friends and family. 

Energy efficient appliances

When something is functional, it doesn't necessarily mean the function has to be visible. A kitchen that sends your electricity bill through the roof as soon as you turn the oven or stove on, is neither economical nor functional. Old kitchens can be quite hazardous in this sense; leaky gas pipes and inefficient heating can lead to both a hole in your pocket, and badly cooked food—two things we know that nobody wants! In the last decade, the market has become flooded with energy saving cookers, ovens, whitegoods and electrical appliances. These are essential items in any modern kitchen, and should be considered a very high priority. At times, the upfront cost of these innovative products can be higher, but we can assure you that in the long run, you will be the one who benefits.

Water saving measures

The last point to consider, but definitely not the least, is water saving. A functional kitchen should not waste water, and as mentioned earlier, by implementing environmentally friendly strategies, both you and your bank account will be thankful. Whether you are building from new or renovating, you can select water saving taps that are high on power, but low on water output saving you an immense amount of money in the long run. You should also check every few months that your pipes and taps are not leaking, which may be responsible for your sudden rise in utility bills (unless your provider has cheekily raised the price!). If you have an existing tap and sink system installed, you can purchase additional water saving heads and add-ons, that will help you keep the cost of running your super functional kitchen down!

We hope you have enjoyed this ideabook on how to create a functional kitchen, and learnt some tips and tricks that you can implement into your own home.

Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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