Kitchens of the past were considered messy areas entered only by the working class. They were kept far secluded from entertaining areas in fancy homes, and even middle class homes tended to have them separated from dining areas with walls and doors. This concept of the kitchen as a mere meal preparation area have changed, however, in recent years, and it has become more and more an entertaining area for friends and family. Open concept floor plans have removed barrier walls so the kitchen, dining, and often living areas all flow directly into one another seamlessly.
More Than Just Meal Prep
Consumer Reports looked into this trend and in its July 2014 issue came up with a guide for creating the a social kitchen no matter what the family budget may be. To determine how best to do this, they surveyed over 1,000 Americans to find out what activities they used the kitchen for. They found, “Nearly half [of Americans] entertain regularly in the kitchen, 58 percent go online there, and 61 percent use the space to do homework/paperwork.” For an area to accommodate all these tasks, the following are some guidelines homeowners should follow.
Open Up The Area
If your home isn’t already open concept, think about what you can do to improve the flow from the kitchen to the rest of the house. Are there non-load bearing walls that could be removed or replaced with a single column? If so, decide whether all the walls really need to come down. Consumer Reports suggested, “Be judicious when eliminating barriers. Using half-walls or arched openings can create a sense of openness while maintaining traffic flow.”
Another way to promote open concept is by connecting the kitchen with the other rooms through a common color palette or motif. What decorations are you using in your living room and how can you incorporate those in the kitchen? Rather than stopping one color and starting another at the edge of the kitchen, repaint so it’s the same shade as the living and dining area. The same goes for floor covering materials.
Create An Eat-In Option
Rather than having one area for dining and one for food preparation, determine whether you have space to add a bar or other seating area for casual dining, homework, socializing, and bill pay. Consumer Reports found that built-in banquettes also up the home’s resale value. Sometimes islands can be constructed with an extra counter connected for a bar area. Just be careful you don’t block traffic flow, which means having 42 to 48 inches of open space on all sides.
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