Today the Kitchenology blog introduces Sensible Style, a series of guest postings by Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS, a kitchen designer and writer in Tampa, Fla.
Sensible Style is about kitchens that work as hard as you do. It's about materials that are durable and easy to maintain; a work flow that fits your hectic schedule; and creating a kitchen that reflects your priorities, your budget and your lifestyle. Jamie's first topic: the five most common kitchen problems-and how to avoid them.
Problem #1: Poor Work Flow
Too many homes have badly planned kitchens. One I encountered recently had an oversized island (probably 18 feet in length) that awkwardly cut off the sink from the refrigerator and ovens. Preparing a meal in that household involves unnecessary steps that could have been avoided had the architect instead planned for two reasonably sized islands with a work aisle between them.
Another home had the refrigerator at one end of the room and the pantry in the opposite corner, doubling the steps involved with unloading groceries. A proper food storage zone would have put the two together.
Problem #2: Inadequate Ventilation
The average American family generates a gallon of kitchen grease each year. This grease ends up on walls, furniture, pets and clothing, unless it goes where it's supposed to go: outside of the home via effective cooking ventilation. Many systems are under-powered, recirculated or poorly ducted, resulting in lingering food odors and grease dispersal. Be sure to factor in a functioning ventilation system for your kitchen remodel.
This kitchen blends style and function with a cooking ventilation system by Electrolux.
Problem #3: Poorly Planned Storage
Most clients tell me that they lack sufficient storage in their kitchens. This typically results from two problems:
- Failing to take full advantage of the storage space. Replacing base cabinet shelves with roll-out trays and adding drawer organizers, backsplash systems and pot racks can alleviate that problem greatly.
- Homeowners want to store items in the kitchen that don't factor into daily meal prep. I recommend storing these elsewhere.
Even more affordable cabinets, such as these by American Woodmark, now offer the storage benefit of roll-out trays.
Problem #4: Overly Narrow Work Aisles
A couple was unhappy that their architect hadn't included a kitchen island in their new custom home and insisted there had to be one. In my opinion, though, the architect was right: Even a small island would allow only 3 feet (36 inches) between its sides and the refrigerator and cooktop. Although many regional building codes allow this, the National Kitchen & Bath Association planning guidelines recommend a 42-inch minimum work aisle for one cook and 48-inch minimum for two. These work much better.
The work aisle in this kitchen from Omega Cabinetry exceeds NKBA planning guidelines and allows ample room for cooking and entertaining.
Problem #5: Insufficient Light
This is a problem I see frequently that's easy to address in a remodel. Older homes often have one light above the sink, a light for the vent hood, and a central light box in the middle of the ceiling. Overall illumination is called for, and can be achieved with well-spaced recessed lights. Task lighting can be improved by adding lights under all the wall cabinets for better-lit countertop work space. Additional task lighting-often stylish pendants-should be factored in for islands, bars and peninsulas where prep, serving, eating and homework are done.
A coordinated lighting plan, featuring task and ambient lights by Kichler, makes this kitchen look bigger and work better.