The kitchen is often called the heart of the home. We cook there, stand over the sink to eat there, and possibly do homework, office work, or projects at the kitchen table. Guests tend to congregate there during parties and gatherings, and it’s often necessary to walk through the kitchen to reach other parts of your house. With all that going on, how do you ensure your kitchen is set up for maximum functionality and efficiency? We offer a few tips to help you make your kitchen work perfectly for you.
Kitchen setup. In general, a kitchen has three main work areas: the sink, fridge, and stove. When they form a triangle shape (the “work triangle”), you should have a flow of traffic that is uninterrupted and allows you to pivot from prep station to cook station to food storage quickly and easily. This cuts down on your prep and cook times and minimizes the number of steps you need to take. The work triangle allows your kitchen table, garbage containers, and rolling storage carts to stay in the kitchen but moves them out of the main pathways you take to get from one workstation to the next.
Once you have it zoned out, you’ll have a much better idea of where to store things like cutting boards, mixing bowls and spices (in the Prep Zone), your baking sheets and pots and pans (near the Cooking Zone), and your daily dishware (by the Cleaning Zone). Having them nearby makes your time in the kitchen quicker and more efficient.
Storage. This is the main bugaboo of so many homeowners: maximizing storage while maintaining efficiency. Because so many people have this issue, there’s a lot of advice to be had on how to arrange and store kitchen items, from foodstuffs to dishes to the good china.
In the pantry: Group food types by category, use clear containers and labels on baskets and bins, and add hooks to hang oven mitts, aprons, and dishtowels. Under-shelf baskets are also a good buy.
In the drawers: Cutlery trays can be found everywhere, but for other gadgets and gizmos, try adjustable drawer dividers to keep them organized and easy to find.
In the lower cupboards: Add a Lazy Susan to your corner cabinet and roll-out shelves to your other cabinets. Both will help ensure you don’t “lose” items in the back of the cupboards. Put a pot-and-lid organizer and a cookie sheet stand in cabinets near the oven.
In the upper cabinets: Use adjustable risers to double your shelf space. Use the very top shelves — including those over your fridge and stove — for items like holiday dishes and specialty items that you rarely need to access, or bulk items like that 20-pack of paper towels from your club store.
Waste. Organizing garbage and recycling can be tricky if your space is limited. Using separate containers for each type of waste, either labeled or in different colors, enables you to be environmentally friendly while also making it easier to sort what you’ve got, especially if your city requires your recycling to be separated. Tip: Containers for glass, cans, and compost can be stored outside the back door to save space (and also reduce smell!).
Lighting. Task lighting over the counter where you chop, stir, and prep is a must, even if you have good natural light. After all, you need to see when you’re mixing up some margaritas or pouring a bowl of cereal for a midnight snack. Hopefully, your kitchen already has an abundance of natural light, but you can make up for any dim spots with pendant lights and under-cabinet strips of LED lights.
If you walk away from this article with only one bit of advice, let it be this: Buy only what you really need. Reducing clutter and using organizing tools helps you maintain a functional and low-stress kitchen, but if you’re buying crazy gizmos or too much in bulk, you might always feel as though the heart of your home is overcrowded and chaotic. Simplicity, maximum storage, and organization are the keys to maintaining a kitchen where you enjoy cooking, working, and socializing.
Sources: Houzz | House Beautiful | The Kitchn | Laurysen Kitchens