Designing your home

How to Design a Functional Kitchen

It’s no secret that the kitchen has become one of the most important areas in our homes over the last few decades. And not just in regards to our lifestyles and technology. Once a hidden room that was solely functional, today our kitchen performs as a multi-generational, multi-purpose space. With open-plan living having become the norm in American homes, kitchens now coexist with the living, dining and alfresco spaces.

The kitchen’s role is no longer performing just obligatory tasks like cooking and washing up. It’s the main feature of your home’s central hub—a space where the kids do their homework, and parents check emails, make drinks and entertain guests.

With the kitchen integrated into an open plan design, it’s important to consider this space in an aesthetic and sculptural way. Fixtures and facades are now critical as they form part of your living and relaxing areas.

So how do you strike the balance for a functional kitchen design that doesn’t compromise aesthetic?

It’s definitely achievable. Considered design and cohesive styles ensure your home feels not only aesthetically unified, but is performing at its best. G.J. Gardner Homes has mastered this balance, as our home layouts, customizable details and range have all been picked with this criteria in mind.

There are a few key areas to consider to make your kitchen functional as well as beautiful.

Must know: Five-zoned approach to kitchen design

The five-zoned approach to kitchen design is the holy grail of kitchen design and an increasingly popular framework of modern kitchens.

Five-zoned kitchen design is a way of categorizing and simplifying the ever-diversifying ways that modern kitchens are used. Kitchens have evolved into more than just an area for preparing meals.

These five zones are:

  • Consumables – where you store your perishables and non-perishables (pantry & fridge)
  • Non-consumables – where you store your tools for cooking and eating (cookware, dishes , utensils)
  • Cleaning – areas that go from dirty to clean (sink, waste baskets, dishwasher)
  • Cooking – your cooktop and oven
  • Preparation Space – your counter space

Kitchen functionality is about determining how these five areas interact with each other and how you will use them in your daily life.

How you use the kitchen: practical exercises to plan your layout

You may have heard of L-shaped, U-shaped and galley layouts. Before you rush into choosing one, we recommend using practical exercises to visualize how you will use the space.

A few to consider:

  • The grocery run: in order to satisfy your normal weekly grocery shop or delivery, you will need to be able to maneuver an armful of groceries easily. They’ll be moving from the counter space to the consumable zone within a few steps in an ideal scenario. Otherwise, this task may become just a little bit more tedious.
  • The washing up: the cleaning zone should be positioned so that you can put away clean dishes and utensils without too much effort. This may also reduce water splashes.
  • Your daily routines: extend these imaginary exercises to every activity you do in your kitchen—meal prep, making lunches, baking, even cleaning and taking out the waste baskets..

While you’re running through these ‘mental checks’ – come back to the five zones. When put together, you can effectively consider how kitchen design will make these daily tasks easier.

Small kitchen design and the working triangle

The working triangle is a kitchen design framework that originates from the 1920s. It’s relatively simple: a kitchen’s three main work areas (sink, refrigerator, stove) should form a triangle.

This approach allows you to access your consumable zone, cooking zone and cleaning zone with ease and ensures a path free of clutter. It is especially useful for small kitchens so you can utilize space for comfort and convenience. The working triangle can help eliminate clutter and obstacles for a smooth flow of traffic between each of the triangle’s ‘points’. Although our lifestyles and homes have dramatically changed in the last 100 years, the working triangle is a timeless approach.

Storage: the key to a Functional Kitchen

You can never have too much storage, particularly with today’s range of cabinetry and storage solutions. It can be easy to fall into the trap of ‘counter-as-storage’. You’ll promise yourself that you’ll keep the counter tidy but often, that is just not compatible with our busy lifestyles. With kitchens now on show to your living, dining and even outdoor spaces, investing in storage is a convenient way to keep your home feeling tidy.

Ample, smart storage space instantly declutters your kitchen and provides you with easy access to your appliances when you need them. While you can never have too much storage in your kitchen, make sure that it’s the right kind of storage for your lifestyle.

You don’t want to simply stack your pots and pans and have your everyday food processor pushed right into the back of a cupboard. Arrangements like this mean when you need something, you’ll have to unload everything from the shelf or drawer and then pack it all away again.

A little detail we often forget is somewhere to place garbage. Don’t forget to integrate your waste basket into a storage area. Otherwise, your free-standing waste basket may become something of a sticking point in your kitchen plan.

Your new home consultant will be able to help step you through the myriad of different types of kitchen storage available—from custom spice drawers to slide-out and magnetic racks; there’s a solution for every type of cook.

Integrate your appliances

Integrated appliances take good storage that one step further. Simply put, integrated kitchen appliances have fronts that match your cabinetry for a seamless appearance. This includes appliances like the dishwasher or fridge, so when you’re unwinding in the living space or entertaining alfresco, these less aesthetic kitchen essentials just blend in.

Integration is almost like ‘storing your appliances’ — it helps reduce the visual clutter in your kitchen. From a functional perspective, it also can help you save on space and makes your kitchen much easier to clean.

If you have the budget to accommodate them, they’re an absolute must in a modern kitchen.

Putting it into practice

So where to from here?

A great place to start is to consider what your biggest constraints are and work backwards. At the end of the day, kitchen design is a bit of a science and surprisingly requires a lot of reflection. We’ve found that for a functional but beautiful kitchen space, you almost have to overthink it. Taking the time to consult an expert will pay dividends, ensuring you aren’t running circles around your kitchen every time you prepare a meal.