Kitchen: The new focal point in a house

The kitchen is perhaps the most important room in the home, people are naturally drawn to the kitchen with its warmth and cooking smells, it is the room where the family gather at the beginning and end of each day. It has evolved beyond its traditional function as a room at the back of the house where food is prepared and cooked.

Column by Helen Devmac

The modern kitchen takes centre stage in most households. It has become the focal entertaining point; friends and family are entertained while food preparation and cooking are taking place, and mothers are able to oversee and supervise homework while cooking. A kitchen that is functional and beautiful is a dream kitchen and while our kitchens may fall far short of the ideal, with a little decorating, re-organising and re modelling, it is possible to have an ideal kitchen.

Any decorating job needs ideas and a plan, at the very outset decide on what it is you would like to change in your kitchen and visualise the end result. To get inspiration, look at magazines and décor sites, but besides looking at what you have, and visualising what you would want to have, there are many considerations to make, the most important of which is affordability. It is important to match your requirements to your pocket so that remodelling and or decorating can be accomplished in as short a time as possible with the minimum of disruption to the normal running of your kitchen.

Remember too that your idea of a dream kitchen and what you have seen in a décor magazine, may not be compatible with the available space and shape of your kitchen.

Types of kitchens
There are basically four kitchen shapes:

  •  Galley shape, long and narrow with appliances lined up on opposite walls.
  •  L-shaped: In this kitchen the three areas ie, sink, stove and fridge are situated on two perpendicular walls, creating a triangle.
  •  U-shaped: The sink, stove and fridge are on three walls.
  •  G-shape: This is a slight modification of the U-shape and has a fourth wall, the peninsula.

Appreciating what you have to work with in terms of shape and size is essential, but size and shape are not all you have to consider; at the end of the day functionality overrides all other considerations.

Kitchen space manipulation needs careful planning

Plan your kitchen carefully and choose appliances that are in proportion to the size of the kitchen, huge appliances will not only be out of place in a small kitchen but will take up more space than is necessary, leaving you very little room in which to manoeuvre. If you have a very small kitchen, there are a number of options you could look at:

  • You could make it look bigger by moving some of the appliances to another room
  • Knock down a wall into another room and create an open plan living space that will give you a sitting and dining area.
  • Look outside your window or backdoor, do you have enough room to add an extension?

In your plan, mark the power points and plumbing and make good use of available space. You will need well-defined work zones that address what your kitchen is really about, food preparation, cooking, serving and washing up. Ideally each area should be served by its own work top. Kitchen units are essential to the small kitchen and help by maximising available space. Units can be taken to the very top, and can go as high as you like just under the cornice, but do try not to fit cupboards on every wall to prevent creating a claustrophobic effect. Wall units interspaced with open shelving for glass ware, and plates can look great in a small kitchen.

A work triangle incorporating the sink, stove and fridge, creates  that even flow essential to an efficient kitchen. The sink is traditionally below a window and curtains must be short and tied back. There are many ideas for a really sumptuous kitchen and we will look at a few more ideas that make redecorating and re-modelling easy.

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