2000s Archive

Living Kitchens

Part 2

continued (page 3 of 4)

Is your kitchen the hub of the house?

Q. Who traipses through your kitch-en? Where are they headed, and what’s their purpose?

A. Apart from the movement related to the actual preparation of meals, kitchen congestion encompasses through traffic, refrigerator raids, and grocery deliveries, as well as ferrying food to an outdoor grill, hastening hot dishes to eating areas, and incursions from leaf-trackingvisitors and pets.

Q. Is the kitchen door your house’s most trafficked entrance?

A. You may want a design that either encourages or discourages this.

Q. Do you like to do non–cooking-related tasks in the kitchen: planning meals, making lists, telephoning, ordering groceries on the Net?

A. For some, a desk is essential; others prefer to spread out on a kitchen table. And don’t forget the hardware that wires us to the world: television and VCR; radio or sound system; computer, modem, and printer. All need to be placed strategically and supplied with outlets.

Q. Would you like cookbooks (or other books) to be at hand? Do you have any collections that you will want to display?

A.Need I remind you, collections grow.

Q. Is your kitchen a clearinghouse where mail and telephone messages are exchanged and schedules are worked out? What kitchen clutter is the source of noisiest contention? Bills and catalogs; homework and mail; jackets and laundry; books and magazines; vitamins and pills; all of the above?

A. Give this “stuff” an official home, where would-be offenders, including you, can stash it. It shouldn’t necessarily be out of sight (lest it be out of mind). Consider the kindergarten solution: Provide each house-hold member with a cubby or an ample drawer where their things can be hustled when the table is needed for dinner. When they’re searching for missing keys or a library book, they’ll know to check their niche.

Q. Do you sort recyclables in the kitchen? Do you compost?

A. Allow adequate storage and be aware that recycling is likely to grow only more space-consuming as more precise sorting is mandated.

What about the structure?

Q. How old is the present kitchen?

A. Updated wiring and plumbing may have to head your budget. Ascertain the amperage of the electrical service—the primary service may have to be increased for your battery of appliances.

Q. How would you like the house’s or apartment’s style to echo in your kitchen?

A. Or perhaps you would prefer to disguise it.

Q. How much square footage can you devote to the kitchen?

A. Often adjacent spaces can usefully be opened up into the kitchen. An exterior wall might be bumped out to give you more space. But before you decide to knock down a wall, read the next question.

Q. Are there bearing walls within the planned kitchen space? Where do the pipes, wiring, and ducts run?

A. These usually converge near the kitch-en, and rerouting them can be a hassle.

Q. Does the kitchen area have adequate daylight?

A. You may hope to open up additional windows or doors.

Q. What’s below your kitchen space? A basement or crawl space? A finished ceiling? A concrete slab?

A. The last could limit your choice of ven-tilation systems and complicate wiring.

Q. What’s above the kitchen?

A. If there isn’t room for wiring and ducting, you may have to consider a dropped ceiling.

Q. Is natural gas available? Pro-pane?

A. Many cooks favor the responsiveness of gas.

What is your budget?

Q. Is there any part of the work that you want to undertake yourself?

A. Be realistic about your abilities, and put a value on your available time.

Q. Do you have appliances you want to reuse? Or furniture, such as chairs, tables, or stools? What about cabinets?

A. For most kitchens, cabinetry represents about half the cost; surprisingly, appliances average under 10 percent, but that figure is rising, driven by our craving for commercial-style models.

Is this the time to remodel?

Q. Is your agenda already overloaded?

A. Even if you employ the most skilled professionals, you will find that managing the details of a new kitchen is time-consuming and frustrating for all but the most laissez-faire.

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