One of the biggest trends in kitchen design today is to create a welcoming, user-friendly environment by maximizing functionality and convenience. Homeowners also want their kitchen to be adaptable to their family’s changing lifestyle as the children grow up and grandparents grow older. Careful space planning, practical cabinetry features, and new technology can improve how your kitchen functions every day for everyone.
Removing walls that separate your kitchen from the dining and living rooms does more than bring light into previously dark areas. It also creates more space so these core areas of your home are no longer so tight and cramped. This improves maneuverability for anyone trying to cook with toddlers underfoot, as well as for someone using a wheelchair.
An open kitchen will have fewer upper cabinets, but increased space for lower cabinets that are at a more convenient height for everyone to use. Full-extension pull-out drawers provide more usable storage space than built-in shelves, since it is effortless to access items stored at the very back of the drawer. Handles on drawers are simpler to grasp than knobs. For anyone whose hands are full of groceries or whose hand mobility is limited, touch-to-open and touch-to-close drawers are a delight. Interior drawer organization systems actually increase storage space inside the drawer and make it easier to locate items when needed. There are swing-out shelving units cleverly designed for blind base corner cabinets. No more crawling on hands and knees to find that missing pot or pan.
Open shelving that holds herb and spice jars, and metal racks with hooks for hanging cooking utensils, are handy when mounted on the backsplash. If there are upper cabinets, a mechanical pull-down shelving system installed inside the cabinet brings everything to convenient countertop level. Multi-level countertops allow people of different heights to comfortably eat, sit and chat with the cook, or do school work.
Choosing the right appliances and their locations can also make a big difference in user-friendliness. Built-in undercounter refrigerator and microwave drawers put everything at a convenient level for getting it to your kitchen countertop. This avoids back strain that can result from lifting down heavy casserole dishes from a microwave installed above a range; and the kids won’t need to climb up on the counter to throw a Hot Pocket in the microwave. An induction cooktop delivers quick powerful heat and superb simmering—going nose-to-nose with gas cooktops in terms of performance. Only the pot heats up with induction, while the rest of the cooktop surface stays relatively cool to the touch. This helps your kitchen stay cooler than with electric or gas cooktops, and it helps prevent accidental burns if children touch the cooktop surface.
A touchless kitchen faucet is easy to keep sparkling clean, since there is no need to touch it with messy hands. The shorter reach it requires is helpful to small children, as well as adults who have physical limitations. For the same reason, a double-bowl shallow kitchen sink—6”-8” in depth—is preferable to a deep single-bowl sink. A shallow sink also makes it possible to create knee space under the sink, which is great for people who like to sit down while working at the sink.