In February of this year I presented at the Voices from the Industry Conference at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Orlando, Florida.
For part of the presentation I developed my version of a Post-COVID home design focusing on the Kitchen and Greatroom areas.
Thinking about how peoples lives changed during this unprecedented time, got me thinking about how Kitchen design may need to evolve.
In Part 1 of this VESTA Blog I will take you through my thought pattern on developing the Kitchen design.
When working on a concept design, I always develop an imaginary client.
For my Post-COVID Kitchen the client is a family of 4.
It includes a dad that works from home, a mom who has an office job but works from home 2 to 3 days a week, a 11 year old and a 9 year old.
Their busy lifestyle means everyone needs to pitch in at home, especially in the Kitchen.
In this case the client’s space is an existing home with a semi-open layout that needs to be updated and made more functional.
For their renovation they would want the following:
- A complete update with all new products
- A kitchen where multiple cooks could work simultaneously
- Zones where specific cooking tasks could happen
- Extra storage for stocking up on food
- An area for baking from scratch
- An open plan to connect the family
- A place where kids could do schoolwork not just homework
- Desk space for mom & dad to be able to work from home
Here is how I envisioned the space.
It is a fairly typical open floorplan with a front foyer, back mudroom, powder room, living room, dining room, kitchen and pantry
The details are what make it function.
The Kitchen Layout
The kitchen layout I worked with is the very popular island design with cabinetry wrapping around it on 3 walls.
At first glance you will see that the kitchen processes the standard elements to make a functional work triangle between the refrigerator, sink and range for a single cook.
Mom or dad would be able to get a weekday meal prepped, cooked and served with minimal steps within this kitchen design.
This is still the reality for many households even if there are multiple cooks in the kitchen, so I feel the work triangle helps to “contract” a large kitchen to provide the best function in the space.
There are also many individual workstations in this space allowing the kitchen to “expand” to accommodate them all.
Let’s look at these workstations that allow the kitchen to expand.
The Cooking Zone
The Cooking Zone offers two distinct areas for cooks using this range to work side by side.
There is ample counter space either side of the range and the 6 burners means they can share, with each cook controlling 3 of them.
I would specify utensil drawers for each station recommending the client double up on mixing spoons, whisks and ladles.
The single door upper cabinets either side of the range hood would be accessorized with condiment storage units that could store specific types of oils and spices, depending on cooking type preferences.
Something to note here is that as the Kitchen Designer you should always be giving the “Why” for specifying accessories in your kitchen designs. This is a big value-added aspect of what you do.
Remember your average client renovates a kitchen maybe once or twice in a lifetime and will not necessarily know why you specify an accessory in a specific space.
You need to tell them!
The Baking Zone
A Baking zone has been placed to the left of the cooking zone and features a lower counter surface and a conveniently place wall oven.
To allow the baker function within this space, a set of refrigerator drawers have been placed to the right of the lower counter.
To make this space even more welcoming, it was placed below a window, providing a great view while kneading bread, which became a daily ritual during the COVID lock down!
There are multiple interior accessories that would be part of this area including tray dividers, revolving baskets, flip up stand mixer shelf, utensil divider and spice drawer divider.
Remember to walk your client through these accessories telling them specifically how to utilize them.
To show that this is a multi functional zone, I would point out that this area can also function as an additional prep zone for children since it includes a lower countertop.
It would also be the perfect place to display a desert buffet during holiday celebrations.
The Quick Snack Zone
A quick snack zone is something every busy family kitchen should include.
The quick snack area in this design was strategically place to allow someone to access it without crossing through the main area of the kitchen.
This is a place to grab something out the refrigerator or freezer and pop it into the microwave.
The drawer bank to the left would house microwavable dishes and some basic cutlery.
I would even suggest the client purchase some color-coded cutlery specifically for this area so that they get put back there, when the dishwasher is being unloaded.
Even a little detail like not including upper cabinetry above the microwave will make it a more comfortable place to prepare a snack.
The Clean-Up Zone
The true test of a functional kitchen is the clean-up zone, and this island location works well in this space.
A large single bowl sink can tackle the wash up of large pots and pans, with the main dishwasher tackling the rest of the meal’s dishes.
The rest of the cabinetry in this area has been accessorized to meet the needs of this busy area.
The narrow cabinet to the right of the dishwasher pulls out and stores dishwasher detergent along with soaps and sponges. The pullout on the opposite end pulls out to store dish towels.
A large recycle bin is placed beside the sink and the drawer above is fitted with a knife block and utensil divider for storage of small prep tools.
The small addition of these drawer accessories has this clean-up zone island doing double duty as a prep zone.
The Lunch Zone
With the family spending more time at home, it made sense to incorporate a designated lunch zone for them.
A space was carved out beside the dining area where everything for preparing individual lunches could be housed.
This area includes a small prep sink, a dishwasher drawer, a set of refrigerator/freezer drawers, storage for some food stuffs, open shelves for dishes and shallow drawers for utensils.
To supplement this space the microwave is a few steps away in the quick snack zone.
The idea behind this area for the family is to have everything in one place to allow individuals to make their own lunches efficiently.
All of the prep and clean up is confined to one area.
There is even a place to sit down to eat and enjoy a view out the window.
The pandemic lockdown showed all of us the importance of food storage and this Post-COVID redesign would not be complete without a good-sized walk-in pantry.
This one was placed at the end of the mudroom with convenient access from the garage where the groceries would enter the home.
The design of this pantry was all about flexibility.
Shelves wrap around 3 sides, designed at 24”, 18” and 12” depths and are adjustable.
This provides efficient storage for bulk purchases and single packaged goods, allowing the homeowner to see what they have.
An upright freezer is placed in this room as well, with a drop off counter beside it.
The door specified for the walk-in pantry is a pocket door so that nothing is hidden behind the door when the cook needs to access this space.
The proposed design for this post-COVID Kitchen would handle almost anything the family could through at it when it comes to cooking.
But, our Kitchens demand more from us, and in next week’s post I will cover how this Kitchen design tackles non-cooking activities as well.
I would love to hear your thoughts on what you think needs to be included in a post-COVID Kitchen design.
Please leave me a comment below.
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Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.