Floor Plans That Really Work for Today's Kitchens

Sunset, February 1991 | Go to article overview

Floor Plans That Really Work for Today's Kitchens


We're asking more of kitchens in the '90s. The utilitarian space where we zap Thursday's take-out dinner for 2 must also work for staging Saturday's gourmet feast for 20. With most parents now working outside the home, on-the-go families need to be able to share cooking responsibilities and to clean up after meals with a minimum of fuss. And because at the end of the day everyone gravitates to the kitchen, the setting must be a comfortable one where people can unwind and work together easily. In short, we want our kitchens to function like laboratories but feel like living rooms-a tall order. While kitchens have grown bigger to accommodate multiple cooks, cleanup partners, and guest seating (not to mention more appliances and specialized storage), the primary work triangle has generally remained compact. As Ellen Cheever of the National Kitchen and Bath Association says, "It's not that the triangle is outmoded. It just needs to be made more flexible by adding independent work areas and secondary appliances outside its boundaries." Beyond the triangle, greater flexibility With the development of separate wall ovens, rotisseries, toaster ovens, and microwaves, cooking was the first function to break FEBRUARY 1991 free of the triangle. Adding a second sink can also take pressure off the main work area. The way each family lives, who does what, how much they entertain, and the constraints of the original floor plan help determine the location of the second sink and which satellite appliances are grouped around it. The examples on the next six pages show the new geometry of kitchen floor plans. In each case, a green tone indicates the basic work triangle, red marks the independent work area around the second sink, and yellow locates the dining and sitting areas where family and guests can sit and chat with the cooks. Friendly to multiple cooks, Ruthe and Ken Coleman's Southern California beach-house kitchen suits casual entertaining of three generations. The plan revolves around a chopping-block island. High-capacity appliances make the plan work even better. The cooking center is a six-burner gas cooktop and grill. A step away, preparation takes place at the island, which has its own small sink and a handy position between the refrigerator and a pantry (right of cooktop). The island also politely keeps visitors out of the cooking area by offering stools on the opposite side. A double-basin sink in the greenhouse window is the cleanup center, flanked by a trash compactor and a dishwasher. One cook can work between these sinks and two large wall ovens (one a microwave combination) without interfering with a second cook working between island sink and cooktop. Mrs. Coleman's baking center is at the window end of the island. Here, a food mixer pulls out of a cupboard and swings up to counter height. The Colemans chose a refrigerator and freezer for heavy use. A residential-scale version of a restaurant model, the refrigerator easily holds whole turkeys, soft-drink cases, big appetizer platters, and the like. Glass doors let you see what you're looking for before opening a door. Similarly, glass-front cabinets let guests spy dishes or glasses they need without a lot of poking around. Since a peninsula counter is all that divides the kitchen from a living-dining area, the Colemans chose materials compatible with the rest of the open-plan house. Pine cabinetry was sandblasted, then whitewashed and spray-lacquered. Countertops are gray light-weight concrete finished with sealer. Throughout the house, floors are Saltillo tiles; the Colemans whitewashed unglazed tiles and finished them with six coats of sealer. Architects: Scott Coleman, Santa Fe, and Rick Colman, Redondo Beach, California. The best vantage point in Micki Schneider and Ron Silzer's remodeled farmhouse in Vida, Oregon, is in the kitchen. In the original house, this space was the living room. But as new owners, they decided to give this prime spot to the room where their gang-friends and a large blended family-spend most of their indoor time. …

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