The kitchen, for all of its utilitarian functions, often serves as the core of a home. The old saying, "No matter where I serve my guests, it seems they always like my kitchen best!" is well founded in reality, both when the phrase was first coined and today. You know how it goes. You do your best to make the living areas presentable and comfortable so that your guests will congregate in your living room or family room. Then, during the course of your party, you notice that there seems to be less people there than walked through the door! Then you go out in the kitchen and there are a number of people - some sitting on the counter, others leaning against the butcher block and still others sitting at the kitchen table. Oh well, as long as they're comfortable and enjoying your home, who cares? Since it is so important and so much time is spent there, it is absolutely necessary that the kitchen be planned out in advance so that it is as efficient and functional as possible. Recently, when remodeling our guest house, we really realized just how small the kitchen space is. We don't live in this house so it never posed any particular problem. But, when it came time to gutting the kitchen and starting over, we recognized that this was the opportune time to really make the space work. We took accurate measurements and made a rough drawing of the dimensions and included the entryways and the one window. We then went to one of the big box stores to see what kind of assistance they could offer. They were great! They had a kitchen department complete with a computerized program specifically for kitchen layout. Even better, they offered a mylar sheet that had peel and stick upper and lower cabinets of all sizes, cut outs for dishwashers, ovens, microwaves, refrigerators and pantries. Though this seemed to be a rather elementary format, we embraced it. We took it down to the guest house and starting playing with different configurations to see how these various options would fit within our dimensions and to visualize how they would look within this space.
We had fun with this. We moved cabinets around and placed the refrigerator in different spots, all the while imagining how it would be to work in this space, taking into consideration where you will place a pot or pan when bringing them out of the oven or how close the refrigerator is to the food prep area. Involving whoever does the cooking is vital in this stage of the planning! Last thing you want is to hear, for the rest of your life, is how stupid it is to have the closest place for the turkey roaster way over on the other side of the kitchen from the oven. Spend some time with it. Imagine yourself cooking, cleaning and, yes, entertaining in your kitchen. Picture yourself at the sink, doing the dishes or getting them ready for the dishwasher and seeing yourself putting away the dishes, remembering that the ones you use the most are the ones you will want to have a space for close by. Take into consideration the flow of traffic into and out of the kitchen space so you aren't bumping into each other. If you are a recycler, you might want to have a separate, built-in bin next to your trash bin for easy separation. Same thing with pet foods and bowls. Having a convenient spot for just their bowls and food next to their feeding area will make it easier for you and house/pet-sitters. If your kitchen is large enough, you might want to incorporate a small desk area with a phone and drawers for phone books and recipe boxes and a shelf for recipe books. Under the counter lights controlled by a dimmer are an attractive and functional feature for a kitchen. It not only lights up your work area, it allows for mood lighting when you aren't actively working in the kitchen or as night lighting when passing through or for those midnight snacks. Time and energy spent at the beginning of the project will insure that you have a kitchen that works in terms of efficiency, functionality and one in which the doors won't bang into each other. Done right, it will become the place that your "guests like best...!"