Improving Workflow through Effective Kitchen Design – Part 1

The concept of workflow allows homeowners to move from station to station in their kitchens quickly and efficiently.

Whether designing a new kitchen from scratch or remodeling an existing space, one of the chief areas of concern for contractors is ensuring the area has a great sense of workflow. Many homeowners want their kitchens to look like they came straight out of the pages of their home design magazine, but even the most beautiful kitchen in the world won’t bring much value if it doesn’t function well. Workflow is a key concept here along with appliance choice – it gives common meal preparation tasks a dedicated space in the kitchen design to save time and effort when cooking. Great workflow starts at the design phase of the project, so let’s take a closer look at how you can implement it.

1. Planning the Floor Plan

The floor plan is where many of the ideals of workflow are conceptualized. To be able to create a functional kitchen design, you’ll need to consider just how the kitchen is meant to be used in day to day life. Some of the questions to ask include:

  • How often does the homeowner usually cook at home?
  • What types of meals does the homeowner usually prepare?
  • Do these meals require a lot of counter or prep space?
  • Does the homeowner cook alone or with a partner? Are there many helping hands in the kitchen?
  • How often does the homeowner host parties or family gatherings? Does the homeowner use their kitchen for entertainment some of the time? Most of the time?

The answers to these questions will inform much of the design of the kitchen and will give you some insight into the best workflow patterns to suit the homeowner’s needs.

2. Using Space to Move Foot Traffic Away from Work Areas

One common flaw in older kitchen designs is the way that foot traffic is handled. We must distinguish between foot traffic in cooking/preparation areas and the traffic in social areas in the kitchen – and in kitchens of a certain age, the absence of design cues can lead to congestion and hinder great workflow. In recent years, the kitchen island has emerged as a popular option among homeowners, and for good reason. It grants more prep space and creates a natural barrier in the kitchen between work areas and entertainment areas. If considering a kitchen island within the design, ensure that there is an adequate amount of space in the area for it. An island in a small space can create maneuverability issues, making it difficult to move from work zone to work zone.

3. Implementing Work Zones

Speaking of work zones, these are the next things to plan out once the floor plan and traffic flow have been considered. The most basic work zones that need to be implemented in every kitchen design are food preparation, cooking, and clean up. This is known as the “work triangle” and it is the basis upon which effective workflow is implemented in a kitchen space – the design and implementation of other zones such as beverage centers will depend heavily on how this work triangle is incorporated in the space. Most designers recommend starting with the placement of the kitchen sink as homeowners spend nearly twice as much time there as they do in front of their range.

Check back next week for part 2 of this series!

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