Have you noticed that kitchens are not just for cooking meals or washing dishes these days? They’ve become the heart of the home, command central, and the place where everyone wants to hang out.
For those of us in the Sandwich Generation, with grandchildren, adult children and elderly parents visiting on a regular basis, a one-size-fits-all type of kitchen doesn’t always serve everyone. When that happens, it’s time to take a look at the details that can make life a little easier for everyone.
Whether you’re planning a kitchen remodel or a simple kitchen make over, the details make all the difference in how comfortable you and your guests will be while you’re cooking, playing, or working.
- Room to easily move around. In the kitchen above, the space between the sink cabinet and the island is 42”. The National Kitchen and Bath Association has set 36”-48” as the standard distance to use when planning your kitchen. I like to think of a 36” space as a “one butt” kitchen…only one person can pass at a time. At 42”, two people can work comfortably, but 45” would be better. Now think about your family. Is someone using a walker or a wheelchair? Even if it’s temporary, they’ll need a little extra space to maneuver.
- Rugs. I love to soften the look in my kitchen by adding accent rugs at the sink and cooktop. But, unfortunately, they can become an accident waiting to happen. Be sure to use a rug pad to keep them from sliding…or don’t use them at all.
- Think of the little ones. If your grandchildren are like mine, they love to help out in the kitchen. A little detail that I’ve discovered to make everyone happy is a step stool. They can easily do it themselves (which is a HUGE thing to a 2 year old), and they now feel like they’re part of the cooking crew. Another little detail with big safety features are cabinet locks to keep the toddlers away from cleaning supplies and things that can hurt them.
- Lots of good lighting. This includes all the natural light you can get from windows. After that, I like to make sure that there is at least one recessed can at every work station for direct task lighting. Next, is the ambient lighting provided by island pendants. And last is the light provided by under cabinet lighting. Be sure to either put them on dimmers or have separate switches for different areas.
- Use levers instead of knobs. Levers aren’t just for our arthritic hands. Think mom-holding-a-toddler or yourself trying to open the pantry with an arm full of groceries. What would make life easier? A door lever that we can operate with our elbows.
- Bye-Bye stationary shelves. Adding roll-out shelves to your base cabinets and tall pantry cabinets will make your life SO MUCH EASIER!!!
- Faucets. Single handle faucets with pull-down sprays have been around for a while. But the latest faucet technology includes motion sensors so you can work hands-free.
- Heights matter. When making plans for your dream kitchen remodel or make over take the time to consider the heights of your major appliances, especially the microwave. When it’s too high, remember that for some people, it could be a problem. Have you ever tried to pull a bowl out of the microwave and forgotten that the bowl might be hot? You drop it, or even worse, spill the contents…and you get burned. Think about this happening to a child or your elderly mother. My least favorite location for a microwave is over the cooktop. I realize that many of you may have this configuration in your own home (we had it in our townhouse). But when you finally get to plan your dream kitchen, try to avoid this. Maybe select a microwave drawer.
- Other important dimensions to make life easier.
- Your Design Homework for this week:Compare these dimensions with your own kitchen.
- From the list above, make a list of the little details you can add to your own kitchen that will make life a little easier for everyone you love.