2000s Archive

Living Kitchens

Part 2

continued (page 2 of 4)

Who’s cooking?

Q. Will the kitchen frequently be used by more than one cook? If there will be two cooks (or more), will they work simultaneously? Are their repertoires significantly different?

A. You may want an additional sink with prep space, or even two separate cooktops.

Q. How tall is the principal cook? Is he or she right- or left-handed? Any frequent helper? Does any household member have a disability?

A. These answers are vital when deciding counter heights and positions of the main preparation areas. Consider counters at staggered heights to suit users of all sizes, ages, and abilities.

Q.Do you use a caterer frequently?

A. Caterers prize clients whose kitchens provide at least two full-size sinks, a bar workstation, and abundant counter space for their crates, as well as generous ovens and four or more burners.

Q. Does the principal cook feel at ease with non–family members watching his or her antics (and seeing dirty sauce-pans)?

A. If not, strive to screen the main preparation area and the dishwasher.

Q. Where do you situate yourself on the tidiness scale? Are you a minimalist? Or do you subscribe to the notion that the best houses are scrapbooks?

A. If you like your implements and ingredients out of sight, nestled in drawers and cupboards, arranged by function, size, and alphabet, you should plan plenty of dedicated cabinet space. If you find inspiration in rows of bottles of olive oil and braids of garlic, in knowing your mortar and pestle are at hand, be sure the counters are deep enough to accommodate everything.

Who’s coming for dinner?

Q.How many people live in your household? And are they adults, teen-agers, children, toddlers, infants?

A. Teen-age grazing and foraging require generous storage; toddlers demand special safety precautions: rounded corners, childproof storage for cleaning supplies, out-of-reach knives and appliance controls, and so on.

Q. If you have or plan a more formal dining area or room, how many will it seat? How regularly do you expect to use it? What is the maximum number of guests you can imagine entertaining at home? For what kind of occasion?

A. China and cookware storage needs to expand exponentially if you entertain frequently.

Q. Do you want an eat-in kitchen? Is this realistic? How many do you typically expect to seat for a meal there? Which meals? How formal? Will these be house-hold members or guests?

A. Counters are grand for quick meals, but dinners cry out for a table. Upholstered banquettes can provide maximum seating in tight spaces.

Q. Do you have pets?

A. Many a dog spends much of its life in the kitchen, along with cats, goldfish, and parrots.

What do you eat?

Q. How many evenings each week do you eat at home? And how many of those meals do you actually cook?

A. Chart an average week’s meals in your house. Indicate how many people sat down as a group at each meal (and who ate microwaved leftovers in front of the television), how long it took to prepare, and whether it was heat ’n’ serve or cooked from scratch, using what appliances. Deconstruct the steps needed to create your signature dishes, whether that means veal Orloff or reheated pizza.

Q. What single meal or task consumes the majority of your time in the kitchen? Is making breakfast the most trying? Or is it weekday family dinners, a familiar candidate for most-tedious? Maybe it’s parties.

A. The meal that provokes the worst angst deserves the most design attention. Analyze the steps and then work out how you might group ingredients and equipment near their place of use. You can often design problems out of existence.

Q. Does any member of your household have a special diet?

A. One vegetarian teen-ager can double the pressure on your prep area; one adult advised to cut back on sodium can multiply the pantry’s contents.

How do you stock your kitchen?

Q. How often do you shop, and for what kinds of food?

A. Those who shop once a week need ample refrigerator and freezer capacity.

Q. Do you shop at discount warehouses?

A. Bulk purchases require bulk storage.

Q. Do you grow vegetables and fruits or go on pick-your-own expeditions? And then pickle, can, or freeze the harvest?

A. Allow enough shelf or freezer space for your bounty.

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