photo courtesy BHG website
As I surf around, I am continually impressed by the creative and beautiful solutions people find for their homes. Sometimes, however, I see something that worries me because it is unsafe. Sometimes I see something that is not as functional as it could have been, and sometimes I see something that could easily have been more beautiful.
Often these are kitchens that have been designed by builders, but sometimes they are designed by the homeowner. In either case, a lot of issues might have been avoided if a design professional, such as a qualified interior designer or an architect, or an experienced kitchen designer had been involved early on in the process.
As a designer, it is heartbreaking to see someone spend huge amounts of time, energy, or money on something, and end up with a product that isn't fabulous.
Good kitchen design is hard. It involves a million little details, like making sure you have appropriate landing areas. And being familiar with local building codes...
... and being aware of safety issues that local codes may not have addressed. For instance, although a few jurisdictions still allow a window to be placed over a range, it's almost always a bad idea. First, ask yourself if the framing is combustible. Then, if the window was at one time operable, would it be a simple matter of removing a screw to get the window open? Drafts from an open window can create a huge fire hazard over a range. Would you, or a future tenant, be tempted to hang a window treatment? There are safe ways to install a window over a range, but it needs to be a permanently inoperable window, with non-combustible framing, and it must not cry out for curtains.
Good kitchen design involves understanding how the human body works, and how much space it needs to perform certain tasks. And knowing how much room you need for your feet -- or your knees.
Anthropometric (body) measurements of most use to designers of interior spaces (Panero, J. and Zelnik, M., 1979, p. 30).Good design involves understanding lighting design concepts. I once had a client whose contractor convinced her she did not need to pay for a lighting design -- he would design the lighting for "free". Rather than spend a couple hundred dollars for good lighting design, this client ended up with SEVENTEEN recessed six-inch cans in her kitchen! The money she spent on unnecessary cans and installation would have more than covered my design cost. I feel so bad for the client. She has a beautiful, expensive kitchen. It took several months for her contractor to complete the project. And she has SEVENTEEN cans! And they are HOT. And she's at an age where she gets hot flashes!
A good kitchen designer addresses efficiency. And flow. And storage. And knows how house systems work. And figures out which direction the joists run -- and how far you can run your exhaust duct (or where you can put your plumbing or HVAC).
photo courtesy http://rkrc.blogspot.com/
They will have an understanding of special needs, such as Kosher meal preparation, designing for aging in place, or multiple cooks, or large families, or families with lots of pets, or for the mobility or seeing impaired. Kitchen design involves reading so many appliance specs and installation instructions, you see them in your sleep!
source unknown. Note the placement of the prep sink in relation to the stove and
dishwasher. If either of these were opened, the person at the prep sink would be
trapped. That could be especially bad if the combustible window frame over the
range ignited! Also, anyone standing at the prep sink, would be in the way of
people working at the range. And forget about having the dishwasher and the
oven door open at the same time. This kitchen makes me sad, because the
owners obviously spent a lot of time and money here. By spending a just a few
hundred dollars more, they could have gotten a great design to go with their
beautiful appliances and finishes.
Have you ever tried to take something hot out of a microwave that was mounted too high? I have to say, having boiling liquid sloshed in your face can ruin your day.
Thank God Susan doesn't cook! This set kitchen for Desperate
Housewives has a ridiculously high microwave! Sadly, so do
many real life kitchens. Photo via Hooked on Houses.
Your designer can help you address all of these types of issues, AND make your kitchen beautiful. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in making things "look pretty", that we forget to make things safe and functional first. I am here to tell you that you can have it all -- by investing a little more on the design end of your project (the front end), your finished product can add safety and function to your home, without sacrificing beauty.
This post is being linked to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday.