Kitchens designed around families are tipped to be a trend for the coming year.
For families, the kitchen is often at the heart of the household. As the saying goes, the family that eats together, stays together. People with children are looking to not only make their kitchens bigger but make the space more flexible too.
And you might already find that with the kids’ homework and the grown-ups also working from home more and more, a typical kitchen just becomes, well, a little trickier.
So, designers are being asked to create all-in-one solutions; areas where mum or dad can cook, the children do their homework and maybe even at the same time a friend has popped round for a tea and a chat. The kitchen needs to be a workstation, not just a food preparation zone.
First Things First
If you’re serious about a family-friendly design, you’ll need to ask some questions first. Understanding who will be using the space, both in terms of numbers and requirement is important. For example, good practical questions to ask first are:
- How many people will be using it?
- What will they be using it for? Just eating or socialising too?
- Will it be an extended study area?
If, like most family kitchens these days, the answer is ‘a little bit of everything’ then you’ll need to take that into account when you take to the drawing board.
Kitchen designers use several design plans to make the most of a kitchen space and the number of people using it goes a long way to planning the perfect layout for what you need. Also, the flow of traffic in a kitchen is important, especially in family-orientated kitchen areas.
When it comes to kitchen design and installation popular layout options include:
- L-Shape – worktops form an L-shape. A versatile design with an open feel.
- Galley – worktops down either side which optimises space and efficiency
- U-Shape – placed along three walls, worktop space forms a U-shape. It’s highly practical.
- Island – an island sits in the centre of the room with worktops on surrounding walls making use of the space. Great for eating, entertaining and working.
Keeping an Eye on Things
The classic kitchen diner creates a seriously-open living space, where families can cook and hang out. Parents can prepare food while keeping an eye on the kids. It’s a place where their friends and your friends can hang out too.
Once You’ve Decided on Your Layout…
… you’ll want to start looking at other practicalities too. That means storage solutions like hiding things behind doors and making the most of cupboard spaces.
In the world of kitchen design there is an army of ingenious ideas to deliver more bang for your storage-buck. Things like wire raisers can turn one shelf into two. Hollow islands offer another opportunity for storage, and there’s a variety of in-drawer solutions that help create more space (noise-and-mess-saving pan organisers are particularly good and mean you can store your jumbled pans horizontally). The inside of cupboard doors is another under-utilised space and can be great for hanging utensils.
Things That Go Bump
Kids make mess. Plain and simple. They also wreck furniture, just because that’s what kids do. You have some choices – you ban them from the new kitchen (but that really defeats the object of creating a family space); you train the dog to herd them away like sheep whenever they get near, or you have a breakdown, constantly trying to prevent them scratching your new surfaces (even though it was your idea to get the Lego out).
A Better Solution?
Choose hard wearing surfaces that are easy to clean and that can withstand the knocks and the bumps that come with family spaces, such as stain resistant surfaces and floors
What Else Makes a Family Kitchen?
Finally, there’s the little extras that can really top off a family kitchen:
- Entertainment areas, such as integrated televisions.
- Homework areas, which might be an island.
- Bi-fold doors leading to the garden helps get the kids outdoors
You can make your kitchen a great family space, regardless of its size. It just takes a little planning. But it’s that planning that’s key to getting the best from your space. Fitting a kitchen is disruptive so you want it to go as smoothly as possible, particularly if you have young children.
Nail it from the start and you’ll have the family-focussed kitchen you’ve always wanted.