The kitchen is the workshop of the homemaker. In the average household, she spends the equivalent of 3 full months a year - 24 hours a day around the clock - in preparing, cooking and serving food, baking cakes and pies, and washing pots and pans.
Modernizing a kitchen to make it more enjoyable to work in, to add extra conveniences and time-savers is the ideal of every homemaker. The kitchen is a room that calls for a large outlay of money, but once it is wisely built, you'll be happy you made the investment.
Until a few years ago, modernizing a kitchen meant purchasing a new refrigerator, range, a combination sink and painting the kitchen in a bright, shiny white. We have come a long way in only a few years. The most striking aspect of the contemporary kitchen is its color. White has been displaced by more sophisticated colors. Counter space has been increased. Storage has been engineered to provide maximum use of all available space. Everything is within easy reach. Today's kitchen blends into the home. It is not a room apart, but a part of the home's living area.
Appliances in the kitchen have gone contemporary! Everything has been redesigned to make life-in-the-kitchen easier and more efficient. Exhaust fans under colorful hoods over the kitchen range remove the grime and dirt as well as unpleasant smoke and cooking odors. In the more modern kitchen, the old range-oven combination has been dis-placed by counter-top ranges and built-in ovens. Automatic devices practically make the kitchen run itself.
The refrigerator has a new companion in the kitchen. While combination refrigerator-freezers are very popular, many homemakers prefer having an upright freezer in addition to the refrigerator in the kitchen. The white look is passing on. Appliances in attractive colors are gaining in popularity. Models have been introduced where fabric can be added over the appliance door, so that the refrigerator can match the kitchen curtains.
Built-in Kitchen Closet
The traditional kitchen has many base and wall cabinets; after the refrigerator, sink and range have been set into place, there is practically no unbroken wall area left. Here is an unusual treatment of a kitchen. This "all-in-one" kitchen closet is one of the best ways of storing kitchen utensils, groceries and cleaning equipment. When it's time to prepare a meal, the doors are opened and everything needed is within easy reach. After the meal, the doors are closed and one end of the room becomes a delightful picture wall. The colorfully decorated doors add a pleasant note to the kitchen area, far different from the pantry entrance found in many older homes.
If you are artistically inclined, you can paint your own attractive door. However, if you feel out of place in a painter's smock, you can buy attractive murals in the form of wallpaper and apply these to the door. You can also buy murals in outline form, glue them to the doors, and then paint them yourself following the instructions.
This pantry wall is designed for greatest efficiency. Notice the effective use of hooks to hang utensils and pans. Note, too, the way the lids are stored in the lower part of the door on the right. These are ideas you can borrow and put to use in your existing kitchen.
Even if you don't have space inside of a wall, you can add a wall storage unit to your existing wall. Two doors, made of %" plywood with 1x6 or 1x8 "frame" pieces, can be hinged to a wall. Shelves, perforated hardboard and other kitchen convenience racks can be combined to provide ample additional storage. If you cannot use the entire wall, use only part.
On the following pages you will find many more ideas for getting the most out of existing storage space; you'll find extras for the wall.
Basic Layouts of a Kitchen
The efficient kitchen has adequate storage, ample counter space and is arranged to save the home-maker unnecessary steps. While the size and location of the kitchen often determines the layout, you can generally make modifications to produce more efficiency.
The layout of the kitchen is determined by the arrangement of the appliances and cabinets within the room. All the units can be set against one wall, or two walls or three. Here are four different layouts commonly found in homes:
The single wall with the sink in the center and the range and refrigerator on either end with cabinets in between and overhead.
The two-wall kitchen where appliances and cabinets are placed on two opposite walls in the room.
The L-shaped kitchen where appliances and cabinets are placed on two adjacent walls.
The U-shaped kitchen where three walls are used for the necessary equipment of the kitchen.
Manufacturers have spent considerable sums and engineers numerous hours in planning the positioning of the different appliances - the range, sink and refrigerator - in the kitchen. You will find many different arrangements within this section. If you need additional help, many of the appliance producers have literature designed to assist you in this phase of kitchen planning.
Remember that the kitchen is engineered for work but has to look attractive as well. Combining these two factors is an art, and when you consider that you have to add work counter space and cabinets for storage, you can readily see that planning based on experience is essential. The homemaker, herself, is often a source of many good ideas. After all, she is the one who will have to "live" in the kitchen!
Layout and Open Living
With the contemporary trend toward making the kitchen part of the family living area, modifications are often necessary in the traditional layout of the kitchen. The basic shapes - one-wall, L-shaped, U- shaped, two-wall - still remain. However, the walls in many contemporary kitchens aren't there. The rear of the kitchen cabinets forms the front of storage units in the adjoining room.
Without the floor-to-ceiling walls in the kitchen, where can the cabinets be hung? The basic problem in most kitchens is inadequate cabinet space. What can be done?
If floor space is available, additional base cabinets can be included to compensate for the loss of wall cabinets. On the other hand, these cabinets can be hung from the ceiling and a space between the bottom of the cabinets and the top of the base cabinets can be left open, and used as a work area. Another technique is to open only part of the wall for the "open look."
While the open kitchen is exceedingly popular, there are many homemakers who still prefer privacy for their kitchens. When guests are present, what can be done with kitchen clutter? Nothing looks less inviting than a pile of dirty dishes and pots and pans left about; it certainly is not a pleasant setting for dining. However, you can do something about it.
It the homemaker cleans up and puts things away as she goes along, there is less likelihood of having clutter about. But there is also less likelihood that she will ever get out of the kitchen, let alone get the dinner ready.
Of course, she can use stove-to-table ware to cut down the need for extra pots. This not only removes unnecessary pots and pans but reduces cleanup time later. She can also use.some of the attractive tableware that goes from the refrigerator directly to the table.
If you put the lights out, you won't see it! Well, that technique can be used here too! It's not necessary to put out all the lights, but if you dim the kitchen and spotlight the dining area, the clutter will be "hidden" in the dark.
You can also hide the clutter by using a vertical blind on a track attached to the ceiling or a bamboo shade that is lowered when you wish to conceal the state of the kitchen. Drapery can be used in place of the blind but make certain that it's not near the range.
Understanding Kitchen Plans
If you are buying a new house or having a contractor do the major and basic modernization of your kitchen, you will undoubtedly be confronted by blueprints. Here are a few of the symbols you will find used in these plans.
When building a new home or modernizing a kitchen, make provisions for convenient and adequate wiring. There are many kitchen appliances and even if you do not include them all at this time, you might want to add some in the future. Make sure your electrical circuits can take the load.
How Much Space?
How big should your kitchen be? There are many homemakers who prefer large kitchens while others prefer small ones. The table below gives the average size kitchens recommended for different size families. Included in this table is information on the floor size, wall and base cabinet storage and size of refrigerator. Remember, these are only guides for average families. If your homemaker likes lots of elbow room, better use these figures as a minimum.
Later in this section you will find numerous space savers for the kitchen. One way of getting more out of your kitchen is to use the walls. You can also use compact appliances that blend right into the room.
Maybe you like a dining area as part of the kitchen a dinette, for example. How much space you leave for dining depends upon the accommodations you prefer. Some families like to have a snack bar in the kitchen for a light breakfast or meal and have their regular meals in the dining room.
When modernizing your kitchen or planning one in a new home, it is best to recognize that certain clearances must be left unless you want some member of your family or a dinner guest to pop up and down every time someone has to pass by. You should allow for at least 42" from the front end of the chair to the wall behind. This makes it easy to get in and out of the chair and to pass behind the chair while someone is sitting in it.
However, if you have a cabinet behind the chair, you should add the door width to this basic 42" figure so that the cabinet can be opened and closed easily. This extra room is not needed if you install sliding door cabinets.
Where there is no chair, at least 24" should be planned for between the end of the table and a wall. This permits the server to pass through conveniently.
On the accompanying page are several suggested room layouts. Examine these to see which fits your needs best and then modify it to meet your exact requirements. These plans apply not only for the kitchen or dinette but for the dining room as well.
The dining area must be provided with proper lighting and convenient electrical outlets. It is best to make provisions for shelves or storage cabinets for the toaster, electric coffee maker, electric frying pan and other modern electrical conveniences for the kitchen.
Dining area lighting should be functional and decorative. Increasingly popular are two forms of lighting for the dining area. One is the retractable reel light fixture which moves up and down above the center of the table. The other is a recessed spotlight above the dining table. Particularly effective is a light-dimmer; this unit controls the brightness of the light. With a unit such as this, you can duplicate theatrical lighting for gracious dining.