The Australian Dream Series


Room sizes & layouts - Kitchen Areas

The kitchen is often referred to as 'the heart of the home' and most Australian designs focus around this area of the home.
Although the shape of the room may dictate the kitchen layout - a long narrow room lending itself to a galley style; a rectangular room to an L shape and a square shaped room to a U shape design - the basic design criteria remains constant.
- Easy access.
- Good lighting.
- Good ventilation.
- Maximum storage and work surfaces with minimum floor space.
- Easily washable floors and preparation areas.
- Adequate power points.
- The grouping of fridge and pantry/storage areas.

When laying out your kitchen design a good guide to follow is if with three primary work centres, try to aim for the sum of the three travelled distances being in the vicinity of a maximum of 8 meters with no single leg of the triangle measuring less than 1200mm nor more than 2700mm. This configuration as indicated in the 3 diagrams below provides a balance between walking too far and being jambed up with the work spaces.

Some of the questions to ask are -
Will I have enough space to slice, dice, chop, and otherwise prepare meals?
Will I have room to store the olive oil near the stove or will I have to go across the room to get it?
Will two people be able to work comfortably in the space without constantly bumping into each other?
Will I be able to easily rinse dishes and load them into the dishwasher?
Will I have to walk far to get water to top off a pot on the stove?
Do I prefer a stove or a separate cooktop and oven?
Do I need a prep sink and a cleanup sink?
Do I need an eating area in the kitchen?

Whether the Kitchen area is to be primarily a food preparation area, a separated area for the family to gather for meals or is to be integrated with the Family room containing the meals table, following the above guideline will put in place the basics of a good workable area

Even though the Kitchen area is the focal point in all but a few family homes, very few are specifically designed from the Kitchen outwards and as such the final configuration and placement of cupboards in the Kitchen area will in most cases be dictated by the design and layout of the remainder of the home.
For example the location of the Family room may be determined to allow for plenty of light and winter sun and then if the Kitchen is to be intergrated within this area it will be placed having regard to possibly views of the back yard to supervise children, closeness to the Laundry, easy access to outdoor entertaining areas etc.

Whichever type of layout you are planning, the actual Kitchen access point will be better located leading directly from the main traffic path rather than requiring a circuitous route around the room. This will then influence the positioning of appliances and the overall layout.
A separate Kitchen area may be more workable with 2 access points - one towards the meals/family area and another to the front door. Each case will vary, but in general Kitchen access will be best served leading directly from the main access paths within the area.

The types of finishes available for your bench tops and cupboards is as varied as the range of options available for appliances, and this coupled with a miriad of colour options makes the choice of which material to use not an easy decision.
Many housewives can relate to the joy of cleaning grout in tiled bench tops or splash backs with a tooth brush. Others the misfortune of placing a hot pan on a new laminex bench or the costly replacement of a cracked glass splash back.
Each has its drawbacks and its advantages and ultimately the choice will be determined from past experience or from word of mouth from friends and the like.

Tiles have the advantage of being able to be individually replaced if one is damaged, hot pots and pans can be placed anywhere on the bench top, they can be easily wiped down - but the grout lines, even with a quality sealant, are a major flaw in their performance. Laminex tops can be readily replaced onsite without having to remove the bench top carcass although being in sheet form appliances such as hot plates, sinks and the like will need to be removed and reinstalled.
Granite tops can have chips repaired whilst in place, will readily cope with hot utensils being placed upon them but will in most cases if cracked require the entire top to be replaced.
Timber tops can be sanded back to revitalise them but unless protected by an excellent 2 part coating will not take kindly to heat. Both timber doors and tops, especially in pine, will change colour under a clear coating so individual replacement of doors or sections of bench tops will not match (to varying degrees) unless the clear coat is tinted to bring up the existing colour.

Range hoods are a natural inclusion above upright stoves or top plates in most Kitchens. The decision to install one does not guarantee a 100% solving of the problem of steam or the smell of cabbage or onions permeating the room. Many range hoods are ineffective due to incorrect installation (usually the drawing power in relation to the height above the appliance), the lack of capacity for the task required or often due to cross breezes from open windows or doorways pushing the steam away from the unit.
A good backup is to have a ceiling exhaust unit close by to deal with escaped steam and smells which will ultimately reach the ceiling level.

This Kitchen / Family room layout shows a simple design with the main traffic paths arrowed. Access from the Kitchen area to the Entry, Dining and Laundry areas is direct without the need to skirt around furniture or traverse from one side of the room to the other.
The raised bench top / breakfast bar screens dirty dishes, food preparation etc from the Family room area.
The meals table can be accessed without disrupting work happening in the Kitchen area




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