The humble home kitchen is the central hub of many family homes. It is a place where parents can bond with their children and where you can sit down with guests and friends to casually entertain. One thing to remember is that a badly designed kitchen can really affect if the space is utilised to its full advantage. The ways we design kitchens have the power to not only affect family relationships, but the whole atmosphere of a family home.
For many years our kitchens were purely functional spaces, but they have become more than just a workspace. Open-plan living is now the norm, where walls have been torn down to allow for a more airy and open space that is completely connected.
It's important to think carefully about how to create a family-friendly kitchen that allows the essential task of cooking to take place. It is especially important to take into consideration designing with children and the elderly in mind, for example if you prefer gas or electric stove tops and easy to use appliances and comfortable seating areas. Whatever look or design you are going for, from open plan design with kitchen islands and breakfast bars, here are a few tips to help inspire you to create a family friendly kitchen.
A breakfast bar is a tabletop and countertop all in one. It is a place where you can sit and do some paperwork and monitor the stovetop while the kids do their homework. It has an overhang that you can use to tuck under stools when they're not being used and instantly creates another benchtop.
An important factor to consider is the age of your children as kid height furniture may be needed. Otherwise, it creates a relaxed eating and gathering area that invites a more collaborative and less isolating cooking and eating experience.
A good general rule is to place your kitchen island right in the centre of the room so it can be accessed from all sides. This allows more room for multiple chefs and invites collaboration.
Installing sinks or stovetops in an island is increasingly popular. This allows the chef to be facing outward towards the room and allows for more face-to-face conversation during cooking. It's important though to consider how comfortable you are with the potential interference factor and the age of your family.
It can help to designate one end of the island for food preparation and surround the other end with stools for children. You might designate the different areas with different surfaces such as a chopping board. Another dynamic way to keep preparation areas separate, but to retain the sense of integration is to incorporate different heights into your bench-tops
Another stylish option is to add suspended storage above the island to keep those dangerous utensils out of young hands.
A kitchen allows the whole family to be together while a main meal is being prepared. As with the kitchen island and breakfast bench, a kitchen table like this one from Flairlight Designs allows easy interaction with the chef and even encourages the family to clean up together after meals.
A kitchen table often has the larger surface area that can be great for craft projects to keep the kids busy. Supervision is easy and spills are not the crisis they would be in a living area with rugs and carpets.
The surface type of an important consideration. There's something very comforting about a solid wood table. Most of the modern tables have a cheap laminate which is best to avoid. Tip—consider that when young hands help, spills and stains are inevitable. Don't forget that not everyone sees stains as an eyesore; some regard it as the living history of your family!
A comfortable, cozy couch in the kitchen is indeed a luxurious thing. Sleeping children can rest while keeping you in sight and even the busy chef may use it to relax with a cup of tea while waiting for a batch of biscuits to bake.
It also creates more seating for small informal gatherings and gives your family more relaxing and informal ways of interacting. Consider how natural this sofa has been integrated. Tip—food and drinks will inevitably travel so find a sofa with a hard-wearing fabric and removable covers for washing.
Televisions, long seen as a barrier to family communication, can be an extremely functional part of your kitchen if you think about how to do it right.
They can keep very young kids entertained and give you precious uninterupted time to cook. They also allow you to supervise and monitor any potential excess usage and of course, there's the personal luxury of being able to watch your favourite cooking shows for inspiration or just catch up on the news.
The modern parent is a true multi-tasker. They may need to monitor homework, cook and catch up with their partner all at the same time.
An open-plan design creates a more natural and open approach to life and relationships that just invites an integrated home life. People no longer choose to live in small boxy rooms. Even if they are engaged with their own projects and electronic devices, there is a communal atmosphere when a family can spend together in the same open room.
If your kitchen is a hub for family life, then that means you will be busy there. You will have random reminders of things to do and pick up, grocery lists, reminders of children's schedules. These are all things it helps to monitor with a strong visual reminder.
A large kitchen chalkboard like this gorgeous one can help children be involved in the planning as well. Buy a bunch of lovely coloured chalk-sticks and encourage them to draw and add their own reminders to keep them involved. You could even scratch out some quotes to keep the family inspired.
For another family inspired project have a look at this wonderful house: The Tea House—a Family Home