Whether you’re in a dire need of rearranging your kitchen for it to be more ergonomic, or moving to a new place and have to set up a new kitchen from scratch, this article is just what you need – I will tell you how to set up your kitchen for the best result.
Arranging a kitchen is not as easy as it may seem at first – plenty of people think that there is nothing complicated about it, and then end up in a kitchen so horrible they are unable to cook the simplest dish without walking huge distances back and forth.
That’s because you actually have to put some thought into it – the way you set up the kitchen and its different zones is really crucial. Everything has to be right where it should, to make the workflow intuitive and natural. If you need an example to better understand how important it is to set up your kitchen perfectly, think about this little example – would you want to have your cutting desk at one end of the kitchen, and your knives at the exact opposite side of the room? Even the simple task of cutting your bread would mean pretty substantial effort, right?
This is just an example – now think about the amount of all the different, small things that we keep in our kitchens, starting from cups and ending at bigger appliances. If they are not in optimal places, you’ll need to work really hard in your kitchen, and who wants that? Cooking should be a pleasure, not a chore.
Okay, so much for the ” why?”, if I got you convinced then let’s move on and actually see how should you arrange your kitchen to spare yourself all the aforementioned troubles.
If you haven’t heard about the work triangle in the kitchen already, this is how professional kitchen designers describe different zones in your kitchen – the refrigerator zone, the stove zone and the sink zone.
The basic concept reflects we actually move around our kitchen when we cook or bring our food to store it. So, the refrigerator zone is the storage zone, the sink is where you clean it and the stove is where you cook it. Between each zone, we place the most important items helping us in these tasks.
While today, the basic work triangle has been twisted a bit, because the kitchen designers now think there are actually four zones, which are food preparation zone, baking, cooking and cleaning zone, it’s not really all that important, because not all of us bake and the basics remain the same – you have to think about the way you work in your kitchen, and set it up accordingly for it to become intuitive and comfortable to work in.
Now that you know the basic concept of setting your kitchen up in an optimal way that’s optimal for the average workflow in any kitchen, it’s time to talk about the actual placement of all the different stuff in your kitchen.
Dishes should be kept close to your dishwasher, which would be the cleaning zone of the work triangle. Naturally, the dishwasher should also be close to the sink itself, ideally below it or somewhere near.
The dishes have to be kept there for your convenience – this is where you clean and rinse them, and this is where you also leave them to dry out. With their dedicated cabinets or floating shelves placed above and between the cleaning zone and the cooking zone, you will have easy access to them at all times. And since the cleaning zone is the middle zone of your work zones, with the storage zone and the cooking zone on the sides, this means also easy access to the dishes from the cooking zone.
See, that’s how you set up an ergonomic kitchen – whether you’re cleaning the dishes, or want to grab them because you cooked the food and it’s ready to be served, and you need the dishes for that, in both of these situations you’ll have them in your arms reach.
Again, think about what you need and place it as close to the place where you need it as possible.
Another common problem when setting up a kitchen is that people don’t know where to place their minor or medium appliances, especially when they have to work with a limited space of the smaller kitchen.
For those of you who have similar problems, there is an easy solution – the appliances garage. What you want to do is to group all the appliances together, in a single, dedicated and large cabinet. Such a cabinet would otherwise be built into the rest of your kitchen furniture, to be subtle and unnoticeable.
First of all, this solution is very ergonomic and space efficient – it’s basically like storing all the appliances away because it’s not like we need them out on our tables at all times. So, your coffee maker or the juicer won’t be taking any of your valuable space just by standing on the countertop, doing nothing.
Another asset of this solution is the fact that the appliance garage can be closed, if you equip it with doors or something similar, which is very good for the aesthetics of your kitchen – the appliances, especially the minor ones which you buy after you set up the kitchen, are rarely cohesive with the rest of the kitchen design, because they often come from different producers. With an appliance garage, this won’t be an issue anymore.
And then, there is the convenience of such a garage – you can use all the appliances you need, be it for making coffee or juice, at one spot in your kitchen, no need to walk from one thing to another, wasting time and straining your legs.
So, the bottom line is – keep your minor appliances together, in an aesthetical and stylish fashion.
Cutlery, utensils, spices, and whatnot
All the smaller kitchen equipment and utensils should be kept somewhere between the sink zone and the cooking zone – most likely, you’ll need them both when cooking and when cleaning. This is true especially in the case of your cutlery.
Similarly to the dishes, your cutlery should be kept there because you’ll be preparing your food with it, serve your food with it and clean it in your cleaning zone. That’s why it’s best if they are kept somewhere there, ideally behind you in a drawer or somewhere to the side, if you happen to have a single wall kitchen.
Now, the spices and utensils also should be kept here, perhaps above the cutlery, in a cabinet, or next to the knives in a drawer. That’s because you either need spices right after cleaning the food products or when you’re actually cooking the food.
For the best results, invest into kitchen organizers, which you can get for nearly all of your kitchen equipment, knives and spices alike. Magnetic holders for knives are also really helpful.
All the talk about kitchen equipment, but what about the actual food?
The food should be kept in your fridge, obviously, but still, there are some kinds of it which don’t have to be kept in cool conditions – mainly dry food products or food that comes in jars. These should be stored somewhere between your fridge and the sink.
Your storage zone starts at your fridge, and ends at your sink, because that’s how the workflow indicates it – you bring your food, put some in the fridge and some in the cabinets next to it, or in same cases in a pantry, and then when you want to cook you will typically take it out and move it to your cleaning zone for preparation.
Where do you keep your glasses is not really crucial to the overall workflow in your kitchen, so it’s up to you – people usually keep them in the upper cabinets somewhere around the kitchen, because all the other places are either not very practical or already taken by other more demanding equipment.
If you have some decorative wine glasses or something else along these lines, you might want to keep them on the floating shelves, to expose them and thus enhance your kitchen design, but then you’ll need to make sure they are clean at all times, not to embarrass yourself.
Rarely used cookware
Everyone has these items in the kitchen, but not everyone knows where to put it. Things like casserole dishes, baking forms are just an example – we’re talking about stuff you barely even need, but still, occasionally you can’t live without it.
Such items should be kept in the upper cabinets, the ones that are really high up – and in some cases, people even put them on top of them. This way they won’t be disturbing you, but still, will be there for the times when they are needed.
Alternatively, you can keep your big cookware in the lowest drawers if they are spacious enough to accommodate them. If that’s an option and something you’d like to try in your kitchen, then my advice would be to install such drawers with roll-outs, for easier access – taking out dishes of odd shapes and weird sizes is really troublesome, and you don’t want to risk damaging any of them because you have to reach for them all the way inside the drawer or the cabinet.
Pots and pans
Naturally, these should be kept around your cooking zone, so next to or above the stove. If you will be keeping them to the side of your cooking zone, then make sure it’s in the direction of your sink, and not the fridge – I’ve told you already why.
Alternatively, if you have some nice, stylish pots or pans which could be used for decorative purposes, such as a copper set of pots, you could keep them on hangers to underline your style. Such decoration works amazingly well in kitchens designed in rustic style, for example. Of course, that’s just an example – I’m sure you can find a set of pots which can look awesome in different styles as well.
Be it as it may, such solution is not only good for the aesthetics of your kitchen. Making a display of your decorative cookware can also be very practical, allowing you to save some of the space that would otherwise have to be spent on storing your pots.
Remember that the key to successfully setting up your kitchen is mixing the practical aspect and the aesthetics together, to create something truly amazing yet ergonomic.
All sorts of organizers are available for the different types of kitchens, and all of them are usually a real blessing. Before you start designing and setting up your kitchen, take some times to study all the different kinds of them – it might very well be worth it.
Whether for the knives, the spices or the dishes, kitchen organizers will certainly allow you to save up the valuable space, and when we’re talking about the kitchen, usually you have to fight for every inch of free space.
Organizers are not only great for space management, but will also make the kitchen cleaner, and as the name indicated – more organized. So, the bottom line is, not only will your kitchen be more ergonomic but also more aesthetically pleasant.
In case you lack the space to accommodate everything you need in your kitchen, think about setting up a pantry somewhere close to your kitchen.
While you’d need to dedicate a separate interior, sometimes it’s a must – there is only so much we can do to make the kitchen more ergonomic, in some cases you just have to move some stuff out of it. The pantry is not only great for storing your food but also some rarely used appliances, bigger cookware or decorative cutlery which you don’t need to be in your kitchen at all times.
That’s all I can think of when talking about the most ergonomic and visually pleasing way of setting up your kitchen. Hope I managed to help you just a bit.