By David Wulff, AIA
I remember visiting Grandma on Thanksgiving and all the women would be in the kitchen (there were 7 sibling women in my mother’s family) and it seemed like an overcrowded bus with all of them trying to work in the small space. Typical of the times, most kitchens were designed only for one person to work in it, usually the woman. Kitchen designers were concerned with the “triangle” design. There was a specific distance and layout for the three main work areas in the kitchen: sink; stove; refrigerator.
Kitchen design has evolved. The stigma of cooking as a domestic chore for women faded and men began to assume more of a caretaking role in the home. The evolving family structure has dramatically changed. The traditional nuclear family has evolved so much that there is no longer any household arrangement prevalent enough to be identified as “average”. We have single parent families, extended families, adult children moving in with parents, etc. The evolution of the family structure means that the kitchen is used for more than cooking. Families spend more time in the kitchen and it is becoming the new living room and office. With this high-traffic, high-functioning space, homeowners are looking to add more square footage and open up the space.
We now need kitchens to meet the needs of the various generations who live in or visit the home. Today we have three generations that use the kitchen and each has their distinct needs. First there are the Baby Boomers (1946 – 1064). Next is Generation X (1065 – 1980), followed by the Millennials (also called Gen Y – 1081 – 1997).
The new kitchen has a much more open floor plan with multiple work areas. The triangle is out! Kitchens need adequate room for simultaneous cooking and entertaining. Get rid of walls. Add Peninsulas and islands to enhance functionality. Have multiple countertop heights and table heights in the same space.
Group kitchen activities together and create mini-triangles that allow for:
- Multiple cooks
- Multiple work centers. An additional sink and prep area is ideal.
- Full scope of appliances and fixtures.
- Storage, storage, storage.
Also, let’s not forget to add wireless connections, desk area, sound system and TV.
Add all the above to your kitchen and it should last for the next 30-40 years or until someone comes up with another “must have” appliance.
DAVID H. WULFF, ARCHITECT welcomes the design challenges presented by new projects and is dedicated to developing innovative design solutions. David H. Wulff, AIA, 167 Trails End, Lake Lure, NC 828-625-5537, www.dwarchitect.com.