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Creating a Family Friendly Kitchen

It is often said that “The kitchen is the heart of a home”. It’s where families and friends gather to cook, eat, mingle and entertain….truly enjoying each others company. For busy families, kitchen design is critical, as it needs to accommodate everyone that will be using the space—from parents who organize meals and activities, to children that need to do their homework or fix themselves a snack—even the family pet that needs access to their food and water!

Think about how each family member uses the kitchen and what their role is? How many people cook in the kitchen at the same time? Do you entertain often and host family holidays? Basically, think about a day in the life of your kitchen, both during the week and weekends.

Easy cleaning surfaces are key for busy families. Reduce maintenance and clean up time by installing quartz surfaces which resists stains and is more forgiving with impacts. Look for surfaces with a little texture, like honed quartz or concrete which will also resist fingerprints! If you have younger children consider ordering your countertops with gently rounded edges instead of sharp corners. And, stick with semi-gloss paint for your kitchen walls rather than flat to easily wipe away spaghetti sauce and dirty fingerprints.

An accessible pantry is a family’s best friend. A walk in pantry? Even better! An organized pantry helps reduce countertop clutter and organizes food and paper goods into specific locations, making it easier for shopping inventory and putting groceries away. Designate lower pantry drawers for children to make it easier for them to access their favorite snacks. If you have the space, combine a walk in pantry with a laundry room and utility sink to make it easier to power through your laundry while you cook!

A large kitchen island can multi-task as a meal prep station, dining area, homework spot, etc. So why not consider two islands? One in the cooking zone, can be exclusively for meal prep, while the other can be for dining, homework or a general gathering spot for family or guests. If you don’t have room for a second island, go with a banquette or breakfast nook. With a bench and chairs you can fit more people into a smaller amount of space.

An organization center can act as the family hub in your kitchen. Whether it’s a built in desk or hidden within a cabinet, a spot for a laptop, tablet and other electronics will go a long way in keeping your family organized. Also include a family calendar and an area for sorting mail and paperwork. Parents can use this area to plan menus with their children in view. Also consider incorporating charging stations hidden away in a cabinet or drawer, which will keep clutter off the countertops.

When planning appliances, add areas (away from the cooking zone) where family members can help themselves instead of bothering the cook.

Some ideas to consider:

  • Separate refrigerated drawers (at kids height) for easy access to snacks and drinks
  • A wine refrigerator to simplify entertaining
  • A food warming drawer to keep side dishes hot, warm plates and cook food in batches
  • Double dishwashers – simplify cleanup (especially when entertaining) by having two dishwashers in separate areas. Kids can empty one dishwasher while mom is loading the other!
  • Pet food storage bins incorporated into cabinetry. Also consider a pet feeding station built into the side of your island!

Hopefully these tips can help you design a family friendly kitchen that is not just beautiful, but also functional, practical and convenient.

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