Creating a Family-Friendly Kitchen
The kitchen is the perfect place for friends and family to gather, chat, and enjoy wonderful food. But the kitchen may not always be the most family-friendly place, especially when there are busy little people close at hand.
And what if younger family members want to help you prepare the nightly meal or Thanksgiving feast? Most kitchens are built with adult cooks and bakers in mind, not those under four feet tall.
How to ensure a family-friendly kitchen?
A few kitchen design considerations surface as possible pain points now and in the future: durability, stain-resistance, storage, workflow, dining, and entertaining.
The durability of cabinets and countertops.
When choosing cabinets and countertops for your kitchen area, you need to consider whether or not a child might be sitting, dancing, or playing on them. Think about the last time a young one in your house managed to climb onto the counter to reach an upper cabinet. Yep, that’s what I thought.
When you purchase high-quality cabinets – those constructed with all-plywood boxes and top-quality assembly materials, you won’t need to worry about who finds a way to sit on the drawers while they are pulled out. (If that statement baffles you, you probably do not have little boys in the house.)
On top of a sturdy foundation, your countertop should also be made of durable, stain-resistant material, one that can withstand heat and cleans up easily. Let’s face it; a family-friendly kitchen brings along a lot of cleaning; after all, it serves as ground zero for everything from science experiments to making playdough and cookies for tomorrow’s school birthday celebration. Countertops that fit into the beautiful, durable, heat, and stain-resistant category are made from quartz, granite, and marble. (If stains and heat-resistance are less of a concern, you have other materials to consider – but quartz, granite, and marble are proven performers in all three categories.)
Organized and accessible storage – a must-have in a family-friendly kitchen.
You want to keep appliances and sharp objects away from little hands and allow ample storage for other items. Even the smallest kitchen, built-in drawer organizers, or deep drawers with different appliance sections can help. Kitchen storage has evolved well past the simple standard cabinet with a few permanent or adjustable shelves and drawers. Today’s cabinets include options for rollout shelves and drawers with special features to accommodate utensils and dishware.
Are you tired of searching through the family junk drawer to find the one red marker that worked yesterday? A pullout cabinet initially set up to sort and store Tupperware can easily store marker boxes, paper, and art supplies instead so that they can be easily found and cabinets can be kept clean.
Your pantry door can be more than a way to conceal your canned items. Try hanging a chalkboard (or a framed board painted with dry-erase paint) to create a message station or to keep track of your family’s favorite meals or even a grocery list.
Small appliances can find a nearby and out-of-the-way home on a pullout shelf that fits inside a lower cupboard. Or consider stacking your baking pans vertically in an upright pan holder for storage. Simple, hidden accessories like these can make your kitchen functional, safe, and easy to keep clean.
If you are considering a kitchen remodel, be sure to locate your appliances appropriately in your kitchen triangle to promote workflow. Take a look at the placement of your kitchen sink, stove, and refrigerator. If they form a triangle, with one or two steps between them, you are set for the best workflow in the kitchen.
While the triangle may seem a little cramped, think about your children as they carry a heavy item from the refrigerator to the counter or something else from across the room. With this smart triangle in place, the kids can work on a project at the kitchen counter, and they will still be out of the work area while you prep and bake their favorite cookies.
When the kids want to help you prepare dinner or bake those cookies, a multi-level countertop area helps them measure and mix safely. If you don’t have (or plan to have) multi-level countertops, a sturdy multi-step stool makes a perfect addition to any kitchen where little ones are close at hand, improving on their math and cooking skills. (Did you forget that you can teach fractions with measuring cups and spoons?)
Dining and Entertainment
If at all possible, you want a comfortable and welcoming area to dine and entertain in your kitchen. Before you start to worry about having enough space, most kitchen layouts today have a countertop as one of the sides. In these spaces, countertop stools or chairs make a perfect perch for your children to belly up to the counter for breakfast or homework.
With both countertop seating and a table, you can comfortably accommodate friends and family for meals and gatherings. If you have an open-concept kitchen, use a side table or coffee table in front of living room furniture to add options to your seating arrangements.
Create a more family-friendly kitchen by adding a few well-designed storage accessories. If you are planning a kitchen remodel, make sure you incorporate options for functional cabinet additions and accessories. Your goal? A safe and functional kitchen environment that every member of the family can enjoy.
What design elements can you see adding to your kitchen to improve family-friendliness?