The challenge of specifying fittings and appliances for most kitchen renovations comes down to the function versus form argument: Do you base your decision making on what is more practical or do you stick to what you find most aesthetically appealing? The end result is often a compromise whichever side you lean towards, with your budget playing as referee.
Here is a list of practical ‘must-haves’ that will add plenty of functionality to your new kitchen design without compromising the look.
Two separate sinks
The humble kitchen sink is the crunch point within the home kitchen. It's one of the most utilised features within the kitchen as everyone uses the sink, whether they’re preparing meals or cleaning dishes. During meal preparation items can quickly build-up in and around the sink causing you to work inefficiently.
To get around the problem, include a second sink in your design. It should typically be in a scullery (if space and budgets allows) or on an island. How the two sinks are used is entirely up to how the household operates, but for an example, some choose to have one double bowl sink as their ‘workhorse’ sink for doing the dishes while the other is used for lighter duties like rinsing vegies, filling kettles and filling glasses of water.
The pullout pantry is one of those kitchen accessories that few know about yet the idea is incredibly simple. Instead of opening a door and reaching into the pantry, with a pullout pantry the door is pulled open bringing with it all the internal shelves out into the room. The greatest advantage pullouts have over standard pantry cabinets is accessibility.
We've all experienced the problem; you need to retrieve a large item at the back of the pantry but to do so you need to first take out all the items in front. With pullouts, you don’t need to reach past as items at the back are equally accessible. One further advantage is brought about by the way pullout shelves are suspended: By deliberate design or not, suspended shelves (usually wire) make it near impossible for crawling insects to gain access to perishable items stored within.
Ideally, pullouts are best suited to small kitchens where space is at a premium and your pantry cabinet is between 300 and 400mm in width. Within this range your standard pantry cabinet with fixed shelves is just too narrow to be practical. It’s worth noting some models of pantry pullouts have low weight thresholds so heavier items should be stored elsewhere.
Bin drawers have a number of advantages over the freestanding variety. Firstly, they are more efficient, as bin drawers can be placed closer to prep and cleaning zones. Take for instance the setup in the image above. The person doing the dishes can wipe scraps directly into the bin to their left, rinse off any excess at the sink in front of them and place the dishes into the dishwasher to their right, all without having to move. By locating the bins in a drawer, you are also removing a bulky item from the floor making your kitchen tidier and harder for pests to reach. To improve hygiene, motorise the drawer so it opens with the touch of a hip or knee.
Appealing more to the home chef, warming drawers are appliances used to temporarily store cooked food in and keep it heated for serving. They are usually designed to fit underneath ovens or under benches and some can be integrated behind drawer fronts. Warming drawers are ideal in situations where your kitchen logistics aren’t perfect and you require foods to be kept heated while you finish preparing other meals. Also, heating dinnerware in a warming drawer before plating up keeps your meals warmer for longer at the dinner table.
Filtered water dispenser with instant boiling/chilled water
You may know of instant boiled water dispensers used in a commercial environment. The manufacturers of these products have been creating similar dispensers for the domestic market for some time, but with a lot more functionality and technology added in. As well as filtering, water units can now dispense instant boiled water, chilled water and sparkling water (some models can do all three). These dispensers are practical additions for the health conscious, for large households and for people who entertain a lot.
Corner unit swing out shelves
While not as space efficient as a corner cabinet fitted with fixed shelves, swing out shelves make corner cabinets much more practical. Normal corner cabinets with fixed shelves are very hard to store and retrieve items from (who hasn’t bent down onto their knees and placed their head inside a corner cabinet to see what’s at the back?). Swing out corner units are specially shaped shelves attached to a clever mechanism allowing the shelves to be independently swung out of the cabinet and into the room. Items are easily reached as they are directly in front. Another clever alternative is the carousel shelf.
Although some of these ‘must-have’ items may greatly appeal to you, there is no one cookie cutter solution to creating everyone’s perfectly functional kitchen as we all have different needs. Before taking on the design of your own kitchen or approaching a designer it is always best to formulate a brief. Consider how you would like to use your new kitchen and what elements would make it more practical for you.
Graeme Metcalf is an industrial designer at Dan Kitchens Australia. He’s a proud advocate of local manufacturing and has worked in several design disciplines across a range of industries. With their Danish heritage, Dan Kitchens Australia are renowned for designing and producing uniquely designed and well-crafted kitchens for the Sydney market. Visit a Dan Kitchens showroom and see the difference for yourself.
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