The kitchen is the busiest part of the home, and poor design and organization will make it the dreariest. When clunky pots and pans clatter to the floor each time you open a cabinet and the dish rack occupies half of the counter and leaves no room for prepwork, you will dread cooking.
Megaworld at the Fort believes in intelligent design. All the projects combine beauty with function, master-planned to make life as comfortable and pleasant for its residents. While we worked with the best architects in the country, you don’t have to spend a fortune to make your kitchen just as inspiring and efficient. Here are some tips.The kitchen is the busiest part of the home, and poor design and organization will make it the dreariest.
Break down the walls
If you are still renovating your unit, you can ask your interior designer to open up the walls that separate the kitchen from the rest of your home. You can separate the area with a peninsula or island table, which you can use as a work space and a dining table.
Choose display-worthy tools
Most people are wary of breaking down kitchen walls because of the mess that lies behind them. However, you’ll find many cooking equipment and accessories that you’ll actually want to show off. “I bought bright red pots and pans that actually look very beautiful against the stainless steel counter. I placed my spices in clear glass jars and printed out labels using a pretty digital scrapbooking template,” says Rowie R. You may also want to display beans and pasta–their different shapes and colors are quite charming–or transfer ingredients like flour and coffee into pretty glass or ceramic containers.
Open kitchens offer the additional bonus of letting you interact with family or guests while you prepare the food, or move around the house while food simmers on the stove–you can still keep an eye on it while doing something else!
Get floor-to-ceiling storage
Use the top shelves for plates, platters or appliances that you don’t use every day, and keep the middle and bottom shelves for everyday items. If you can, pre-measure your appliances so they fit perfectly into the shelves.
The walls are automatic vertical storage, too. Hang pots and tools you use often, like colanders or cutting boards. Use a magnetic bar for knives (this is also more hygienic than storing them in wooden knife racks, which can harbor bacteria).
Kitchen designer Julie Bishop actually discourages people from storing pots and pans in cabinets. “Use a three-drawer base with deep drawers instead, and insert tray dividers into base cabinets for pot lids, serving trays, baking sheets; leaving them flat takes up valuable storage space.”
If you can’t add shelves, store the things you don’t use often–like the big platters or decorative plates you reserve for parties–in another part of the home, like the closet of the guest bedroom. “If your kitchen storage is limited, then save the shelves for items you use every day, so that you’re not constantly moving things around just to get what you need,” says interior designer Amanda San Jose.
Subdivide and conquer
Buy cheap drawer separators and flatware organizers to save time when you set the table or need a special tool. When the food is bubbling on the stove, the last thing you need to worry about is how to find the spatula that’s buried in one of the bottomless kitchen junk drawers.
Organize items by use
Shelves and storage bins are great for holding knick-knacks, but they’ll slow you down if you don’t have a system. “Keep the can opener, meat pounder, sifter, etc. near the table where you’ll typically prepare your ingredients. This sounds commonsensical, but all too often homemakers find themselves opening every shelf in the kitchen to look for the cheese grater!” says interior designer Elaine San Jose. “Every extra step that you have to take makes cooking more tiring than it should be.”
That’s why Lydia, who loves baking, keeps her baking tools like cookie cutters and sifters in the same cabinet where she puts her mixer and ingredients like flours and chocolate chips. She used to store them separately–ingredients in the pantry, mixer with other appliances, cookie cutters tucked behind pots and pans–but now she saves precious time and energy by putting everything she needs in one place. “Before, just the thought of getting everything ready would dampen the desire to try a new recipe. Now I’m more inspired to bake more often!”Shelves and storage bins are great for holding knick-knacks, but they’ll slow you down if you don’t have a system.
Get a custom-made pantry
Ask a carpenter to make a cabinet with shelves that are just the right height for cans and bottles. Wicker baskets or plastic boxes can carry smaller, bulkier items like chips or instant mixes. Ideally, your pantry should be away from a window–most foods are best stored in a cool, dark place. Add a door to keep pests away; tack a white board or cork board so you can instantly list what you need to buy once you notice you’re running low on a particular ingredient.
Use a movable island as a breakfast and snack station
Instead of clogging up valuable counter space with a coffee maker and toaster, place them on a movable island. You can roll it to the dining area in the mornings. This can also hold cereals, oatmeal and bread (store in airtight containers), tea boxes, and other items that tend to occupy kitchen counter space.
Use the three-point flow
The best-designed kitchens have a “work triangle” with the sink, prep space, and stove or fridge places at the three points of a triangle. This has been proven to be the most efficient work flow and is used to design professional kitchens.The best-designed kitchens have a “work triangle” with the sink, prep space, and stove or fridge places at the three points of a triangle.
Create an efficient prep area
Tidier workspaces give you more room to prepare your ingredients and also help clear your mind. Keep utensils in a drawer, plastic box, or hooks. Keep pots and spices close at hand. “Most people put these near the stove, but you actually need them when you’re preparing ingredients and not actually cooking,” says caterer Lila Ambrosio. Store cookbooks in another area, and just keep one bookstand to prop the one you need at the moment.
Ginny Scott, vice president of California Closets, say that homemakers often clutter counters with decorative spice racks. “Spice drawers, which let you lay the bottle flat with the label exposed, save space and also protect the spices, which can lose potency when exposed to light.”
Caterer Lila Ambrosio recommends using one small bowl to catch vegetable peels and other items you need to discard. “When you’re done with the prepwork, just dump everything into the trash. That saves time from going back and forth to the garbage can, which should not be placed near the area where you prepare food for sanitary reasons.”
These are just some ways that you can maximize and organize your condo kitchen space. However, interior designers and caterers agree that the most important step you can take is being honest about what you need. “Don’t hoard! Most people don’t need 10 sets of plates or a month’s worth of groceries. Streamline before you store, and then store with purpose. The best kitchen is the one that serves your needs and your lifestyle, and doesn’t just display all the tools money can buy,” says Ambrosio.