Maximize Your Space

Annapolis, MD ¯ As homeowners look to remodel or build a new kitchen, it is essential they create a layout that will meet and exceed their lifestyle and family needs. Making wise layout decisions can improve overall kitchen functionality while maximizing space and efficiency.

Kitchen layout and design can be an opportunity for homeowners to create a place best suited for their family and personal needs at the same they create a sense of style and individuality. Making wise kitchen layout and design decisions can influence the resale value of a home. To aid homeowners, Debbie Williams, regional manager and Couture Design Group leader for Reico Kitchen and Bath, a kitchen and bath retailer in the Mid-Atlantic States based here, offers advice on maximizing space through smart kitchen design:

1. The Four Zones: The current buzz word in kitchen is “zones.” It refers to the areas in which specific activities take place within the kitchen. They include the cooking zone, storage zone, planning zone and clean-up zone. Each one works together and is designed around the homeowners’ needs. According to Williams, making sure that food and meal preparation flow seamlessly through the kitchen is key. By storing utensils, knives, dishes, pots and pans within easy access can significantly decrease the amount of time and energy needed to prepare a meal.

If a household has more than one cook, a layout with two work triangles can maintain and direct traffic flow while keeping the cooks from being in each other’s way. In addition, islands and peninsulas can act as a multi-functional station for homework, games, cards, crafts, etc., which is great for families.

Besides creating two or more work triangle, traffic flow can be directed by an island or peninsula. By incorporating an island or peninsula into the kitchen, traffic flow is directed around the perimeter of the kitchen rather than through the middle of it, interrupting the flow of work. Islands or peninsulas should not intersect the work triangle by more than 12".

2. Cabinetry Design and Storage: Different Types of cabinetry deign and storage units can maximize space in a kitchen. In today’s kitchen world, there are many accessories and storage options to help homeowners organize their kitchen storage and utilize their space better. Williams recommends several accessories to accomplish this. They include pull-out trash unit, roll-out trays, door and/or drawer spice racks, tilt-out sponge storage, appliance garage, cutlery dividers, knife storage, cutting boards and drawer organizers.

For storage options she further recommends deep cabinets above the refrigerator to store seasonal, not everyday products and goods. Additionally, she recommends lazy Susans in the upper and lower corner cabinets for easy access to spices and other goods. Along with maximizing kitchen space these accessories and storage options can contribute to improving kitchen functionality.

3. Countertops and Flooring: Specific types of countertops ad flooring are easier to clean and maintain than others. Williams strongly believes the most maintenance-free and durable countertop on the market is quartz surfacing. Quartz countertops are made of pulverized stone in polymer, combing the scratch and heat resistance of granite in a polymer that seals the surface, making it stain-resistant, explains Williams, who adds that this is great for families with children.

The same idea goes for flooring; some flooring products are easier to maintain than others. Williams feels ceramic tile is the most wear-resistant, and when paired with darker grout, it tends to be more forgiving of spills. Other flooring options include wood and laminate. She says wood is forgiving, but can wear over time, while laminate is durable, but least preferred by homeowners.

4. Appliances: Appliance placement can maximize a kitchen’s efficiency. According to Williams, the flow of food prep is from storage to sink to the oven or cooktop or range. Thus, she says, it’s ideal to have continuous countertops between all appliances for easy preparation. She advises that the microwave be placed near the refrigerator because so many foods can be taken from the refrigerator and put into the microwave without much preparation. She further recommends that the dishwasher be placed next to the sink, and depending on which hand the homeowner cleans with, the dishwasher should be placed on the opposite side.

5. Additional Layout Considerations: Overall, the kitchen should be designed as a place where families can spend time together. In fact, a recent study of kitchen consumer preferences conducted by Merillat Cabinets cites that the kitchen is the new living room. People want to feel connected to the rest of their home while they work in their kitchens. The study also cited the following:

a. Consumers want open, airy and bright spaces, so plenty of strategically placed natural and artificial lighting is important.

b. Room flow is essential, so kitchens should be constructed to allow for natural and effortless movement.

c. Lifestyle nuances are key, which means, for example, empty nesters like to bring the outside indoors with open views of nature while growing families want open views to keep a watchful eye on their children.

d. Large kitchens, while often viewed as requiring excessive maintenance, a well-planned and balanced kitchen is necessary to accommodate entertaining family and friends. In conclusion, says, Williams, when planning a kitchen, homeowners need to evaluate their lifestyle and usage patterns to design the most functional space for their homes.

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