Common Kitchen Layout Problems and How to Overcome Them

The Kitchen Master | December 22, 2015

The size and existing floor plan of your kitchen do not necessarily dictate what it can become. In the hands of a creative kitchen designer, all sorts of possibilities can be considered, from purely cosmetic kitchen renovations to a complete overhaul that includes new cabinets, countertops, flooring and appliances.

Whether you choose to remove walls or build an addition depends on your end goals. Even relatively minor renovations can make a big difference in the way a kitchen functions.
Creative kitchen designers will focus on maximizing the potential of your space, taking into account your individual style preferences, your family’s personal needs and habits, your home’s characteristics, and your budget.

Kitchen History

Kitchens in early American homes were simple rooms with a sink on one wall and a cook stove on another. They were not very efficient, there was little storage, and workspace was often a weathered wood table set in the middle of the room. Refrigeration, if it existed at all, was minimal. As homes became more modern, the pantry became a feature in most homes, and cabinets were added to the kitchen for additional efficiency in the space. Ice boxes, and then refrigerator/freezers became standard features.

Today, the best kitchens are models of efficient space planning as well as beauty, with sparkling work-saving appliances, dedicated space for storage, food preparation and clean up activities. Commonly, there is also room for a table and chairs, or at least a handy snack counter.

Common Kitchen Problems and Solutions

Some Common Kitchen Layout Shortcomings

Despite all the modern conveniences on the market, not all kitchens work well. In older homes, the kitchen may be a constant source of frustration for the owners.

Common problems include:

  • Too many steps between major appliances
  • Not enough counter space
  • Awkward traffic patterns
  • Insufficient task lighting
  • No provision for trash
  • Crowding difficulties when two or more people try to work together

U-shaped kitchen designs

Navigating Through the Work Triangle

You have probably heard of the “kitchen work triangle.” This guiding principle of kitchen design simply means that the distance and paths between refrigerator, stove and sink should be efficient and manageable. Put a different way, an efficient kitchen is designed so that food storage and work areas are logically organized, allowing the user to move easily from preparation and cooking tasks to cleanup and serving.

Popular layouts over the years have included the L-shaped kitchen, U-shaped designs (often with a window over the sink on the short side of the U), and the corridor or galley kitchen designed for a single cook.More expansive layouts frequently feature a peninsula counter, designed to prevent unwanted traffic in the work space as well as to provide a place for snacking and socializing with the cook. The increasingly popular kitchen island can accommodate some appliances as well as seating, eliminates a wall, and opens the kitchen to an adjacent room.

A contemporary kitchen in an open plan home might cluster all appliances along one wall, simply placing a dining table as a transitional element between work space and living area.

A kitchen with peninsula counter, to reduce unwanted traffic

More Modern Options

A contemporary kitchen in an open floor plan home might cluster all appliances along one wall, simply placing a dining table as a transitional element between work space and living area. The immense popularity of open floor plan living has heightened the trend toward kitchens that have little in common with the work spaces of the past. They are likely to bear similarities to dens and office, include comfortable chairs, eating counters, snack and homework stations, even entertainment options like televisions and game tables in some instances.
When you plan your Chicago home’s kitchen renovation, be sure to consider how your own family lives and interacts, and what activities you envision taking place in the space in addition to cooking and clean up duties. Pay attention to storage and entertaining needs as well, and place a priority on convenience — from unloading food from the market, to toting trash to the curb.

Elements of Design

Kitchen planners emphasize work stations to customize a layout, and take personal preferences into account. A kitchen plan for a serious baker would almost certainly be very different from the design for a pair of busy corporate executives who prepare meals at home only on weekends.

Professional designers at The Kitchen Master will help you crystallize your preferences and needs for a new or remodeled kitchen in your Chicago area home. We truly believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and that it should be comfortable and efficient for everyone who uses it. You can contact us to schedule a free consultation!

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