Friday, March 21, 2014

why the kitchen is the heart of my home... making open plan work

The best thing about designing a new home is you get to make the living spaces suit you exactly.
We always knew the kitchen would be the heart of our home, we love cooking and being able to prepare and eat meals as a family. 



My favourite thing about the design is that from the kitchen bench I can see the pool and garden, across the main living areas and right across the central courtyard to the playroom.  
Whether I am cooking or reading a magazine at the counter, I can keep an eye on the kids, whatever they are up to, which means I can keep going and get things done while they play.

Having such an open plan design comes with challenges too.  You need to be able to do the cooking in the kitchen but hide the storage and washing up.  Want to know how to do it?
Here are my top tips for planning a successful open plan concept that you will love as much as I love mine.
This post is brought to you by Creative Design Kitchens: designing, creating and installing dream kitchens in Sydney for over 18 years, but as usual all opinions are my own.

The butlers pantry:
How is this different from the walk in pantry?  This room contains double sinks, ample counter space for washing up and stacking dirty pots and pans, and the dishwasher.  This is a cleaning utility area rather than a food storage or prep area.
Many people thought it was a crazy waste of space, now they all want one too, and its becoming a must have in any well designed home.  
It totally allows you to enjoy cooking and then shut the washing up away until you want to deal with it.  Out if sight out of mind as the saying goes.  Our space can be shut totally out of sight with space saving pocket doors.

A walk in pantry:
This pantry is for storing food.  Our pantry has two side: fridge, freezer and microwave on one side, open shelves for groceries, and a coffee counter on the other.  
The fridges are close enough to the kitchen for easy access, but hidden from sight.  Not only does it not affect the look of the kitchen, but you are not tied to a specific cabinet spaces for your large appliances, future proofing for unforeseen appliance changes.

A separate coffee prep counter:
Kettles, toasters and coffee machines are a necessity in most kitchens, but they sure do clutter up your surfaces.  All of these items are on a counter in our butlers pantry, out of sight from the living area, but opposite the fridge.  Never having to tidy these appliances away is one of my favourite ways the kitchen works for us.

Extra long and wide counters:
There has to be space for at least two people to cook, and place for people to sit and keep the cooks company.  Our center counter is 3m long and 90cm wide, and if we had the space I would have made it both longer and wider.

A powerful and quiet extractor:
Especially important where the kitchen opens onto your entertaining area.  Extractors come in a multitude of shapes and finishes, but whatever you choose make sure that your fan is not to noisy when it works.  You don't want to drown out conversation.

Prep bowl - don't put it in the center counter:
You don't want to be walking to the butlers pantry every time you need water for a pot or you want to wash your vegetables.  A prep bowl is a must but don't put it in the center counter!   Ignore those spotless show kitchens where its done this way because:  they tend to splash as you rinse which is bad news for kids doing the homework or your guests sitting at the counter,  it detracts from your gorgeous and expensive counter top, you don't want to set up a buffet meal right next to the sink.   Keep your center counter clear!!

Our prep bowl in near the stove on the back counter, handy for filling pots about to go on the stove, or refilling the kettle.  It's absolutely the right place for it.

Storage, storage and more storage:
A place for everything and everything in its place.  Yes to more drawers for everything from pots and pans, to coffee cups and spices, no to open shelves unless you have gorgeous collections to put on display, and are very tidy.  This goes for all kitchens, not just open plan ones.  

I have open shelves in the butlers pantry for storage of platters, baskets, books and vases (see left in both photo's).  I do keep them tidy but can also have pocket doors that shut that area off from the kitchen, just in case we don't want them on display.



For us open plan is fantastic, the kitchen is truly the heart of our home, with space for all of us to be together but doing different things.  We love it.
Let me know if you have a hot tip to add to this list.  

This post was written for Creative Design Kitchens, but all opinions are, as usual, my own.

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