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5 open concept kitchen problems, solved

As a designer, my job is as much about recognizing how not to design a space, as it is the how to. Most of us embark on a redesign by first, pulling inspirational pictures, pretty spaces, that have the look. I myself, usually begin by asking clients to compile boards on Pinterest, so that I can start to get a literal picture into what the ideal, looks like to them. It’s a very telling process, for sure, especially if I ask two people, like a husband and wife to each create their own boards independently. Then I get the fun job of finding the common links, and feeding into their individual wants with enough acknowledgements everyone feels like their vision is intrinsic to the resulting design.

Pretty pictures, aside, a great design goes deeper than window dressing, offering solutions to wants, needs and inefficiencies. Part of my design programming and something I encourage everyone embarking on a project at home, is to walk through room by room then big picture considering what doesn’t work currently .This process is a terrific exercise to start the dialogue about the holistic hopes. Not surprisingly the best designers are great listeners first.

Our relationship with our homes is continually evolving. As our family and parenting dynamics and relationships changed from the be seen but not heard of the 40s and 50s to the now always watchful and at least attempted engagement of the contemporary parent, so too did our relationship with our kitchen once again morph. We want connectedness in our lives and the removal of walls and visual barriers in our home is a physical representation of that want. This new trend of open concept living is not without downfalls, The key to success from a design perspective is to anticipate the downfalls during that initial designing

Here are my top five open concept kitchen problems, solved.

1. Problem: Open kitchens mean unwanted visitors under foot
Solution: Add a drink fridge on the outside edges of the kitchen. This allows both little ones and guests to grab a drink without getting in the way of the chef. Adding pre-dinner nibbles here like cheese and grapes along with juice boxes allows them to fulfill their own hungry requests.

2. Problem: Visual clutter on the Counters
Solution: Planning a place in advance for all the larger items like small appliances and microwaves. Consider putting the microwave below the counter for ease in access.

3. Problem: A utilitarian look kills the cozy feel to adjacent spaces
Solution: Opt for integrated appliances and warm natural materials like wood , stone that allows a glance from the family room to be less of a reminder the pan needs to be scrubbed.

4. Problem: Paperwork and homework will start to accumulate
Solution: The open kitchen means more of the daily functions will migrate in and inevitably be left on the counter. Plan ahead and add cabinets on the outside of the kitchen designated as homework supplies, and household bills.

5. Problem: Fewer upper cabinets
Solution: Open kitchens look best when there is a nice amount of negative space. Planning in a healthy size pantry cabinet easily replaces a full run of traditional upper cabinets and offers a more streamlined look.

Author: Melissa Davis

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