Happiness is a small house with a big kitchen. These words are attributed to none other than Alfred Hitchcock, and when I heard them recently, I knew I should write about them. While it’s known that Hitchcock loved to indulge in delicious food, whether he was an avid cook himself is not entirely clear. But in any case, I’ve yet to hear any of my design clients say “I’d like a smaller kitchen!”
With the kitchen firmly established as the heart of the home, designing a kitchen to accommodate the needs of everyone in the family can be a challenge. A kitchen does not need to be big, however. It just needs to be well planned. Here are some some common requests I hear from clients, as well as some tips for how to satisfy those requests.
1) I’d like my kitchen to feel more “open.”
While the open-concept kitchen is still very popular, removing an entire wall is not always warranted. Instead, think about removing part of a wall, or widening doorways, or moving the large appliances to other locations to create more counter space. In one recent project, we left part of the wall intact to make room for the wall ovens and hood vent, and created a peninsula with a large breakfast bar in the newly opened section.
On the other hand, removing the entire wall absolutely makes a kitchen more open! To create the large gathering space you crave, it might very well be worth the expense.
2) We have multiple cooks in our family- we’d like to all be able to cook without bumping into each other.
To achieve this goal, often it entails creating a whole new layout, relocating appliances in order to create more work space. In one kitchen, we moved the ovens and refrigerator to one side of the kitchen, which provided a lot more prep space around the sink and cooktop. By moving the wall ovens, we were able to create a peninsula that provides ample space for the other cooks in the family.
3) I’d like an uncluttered kitchen, so at least it feels bigger
In some homes, a larger kitchen is just not possible. But a kitchen does not have to be large to feel comfortable and spacious. Can we admit that most of us simply have too much stuff? We don’t necessarily need a larger kitchen— we just need one that functions more effectively— AND we need to edit our belongings! Here’s a tip I learned years ago from a professional organizer: empty all your utensil drawers into a box, and put the box in the garage. When you need something, go and get it out of the box and bring it back into the kitchen. Do this for about a month or two. At the end of that time, you will see what you actually use, and what you don’t. It’s a great exercise that can be repeated with pots and pans, bakeware, linens, even clothes and toys.
Once you’ve edited your things, consider my favorite design concept: that everything must have a place to live. A well-designed kitchen takes advantage of every inch of space. A “Lazy Susan” in the corner cabinet can house your small appliances, so they don’t have to live on the countertop. A narrow pullout next to the cooktop can hold spices and oils. Drawer organizers can magically create more space by giving categories of items their own compartment.
While Hitchcock was on to something about happiness and kitchens, I would say a well-planned kitchen is more important than the size!