The location of lighting may need to be adjusted in a child-height work area, and a tilt-down front or simply a fixed panel just under counter height can be a good place for the controls and outlets. Proximity of water and outlets prompts a reminder about the safety rules and responsibilities that must be part of the plan.
Space for homework or arts and crafts should also be considered for kitchens. Proper storage within a child’s reach should be planned for these needs, and may require a careful inventory of what is to be stored. A well-lit place to sit and work, within sight of the main work area of the kitchen, should include computer access or provision for the computer.
An opportunity to develop the skills and enjoy the social aspects of eating can be as easy as a comfortable place to sit and eat together – already a priority in most kitchens – and children do better at table-height seating, given their stature.
Along with planning access for a child, restricting access to those things not intended for the child’s use is critical. Today’s appliances, particularly ovens, cooktops and dishwashers, often have a control lockout feature, and a batch feed disposer or a continuous feed model with a clearly marked control, out of the reach of small children, will help prevent accidental use.
Designing the cooking area with generous clearances will help offset the risk of a child’s curiosity leading to burns or related injuries. The simple solution of a lock on particular cabinets – whether they contain medicines, poisons or sharp objects, or simply things off-limits – is readily available as an integral part of the cabinetry or as an add-on. The space plan and the elevations within the kitchen can help to discourage use as well.
From pre-school years, I have always loved the kitchen, and the thought that a space could be this supportive of our future chefs seems like a great opportunity for design professionals. More ideas can be found in Chapter 10 of the NKBA book, Kitchen Planning.