I'm currently designing my very own brand new kitchen. Surely this is a pinch of salt. I do it all the time, 'organising spaces'. I have even designed several kitchens. But this is so very, very different. It's my kitchen. And it's raised a lot of questions about how much do you really need to consider when planning, what is essentially, the hub of the home.
This is the first time I have had the luxury of a brand new kitchen. But this kitchen isn't my first ever kitchen, clearly. I've moved into rentals and owned two other homes. All of them came with installed kitchens. Ones that I hadn't designed or planned. Yet I don't remember anything bad about these kitchens. It made me question just how much detail do you really need to consider when you're designing from scratch. What is, or when is it, enough?
During the kitchen designing process, I've considered the orientation, usage and aesthetics. Its just as much about "what I want to look at" as it is "what I want it to look like". I've sorted out the layout and considered the different activities and how food and tableware move through the space as we prepare, cook, serve, cleanup, washup. I've gone so far as to write down every type of item, food group and appliance and identified a new spot for it. Even the recycling, food scraps, egg shells and waste have a home. I've identified other activities that take place and how they can be accommodated (mainly recharging devices and Friday night disco). I've pretty much considered everything. So I'm sure to end up with a perfect kitchen. Once I finalise all the beautiful finishes that is.
But what happens if its not perfect? Will it make sense? Will it flow? What will I do if it doesn't? Will I be able to change it? How will I cope? Cope. Cope? Of course I'll cope. We all would, and here's why.
All my other homes have come with a kitchen. None of which I have designed. I've used a multitude of different shaped and sized of kitchens. U shaped, L shaped & galley. Ones with a small tight triangle format, others with no triangle format at all. After chatting to a friend about her 'nightmare' kitchen she moved into two years ago, she confesses that it's not that bad after all. In fact she loves the location of the dishwasher now. Even likes the fact it's a drawer type, not the traditional sort which is what she was used to. It made me realise that you make best of the space that you have. Your body and your brain work together to set new memory patterns as you learn to make sense of the space. So even if its less than ideal initially, your brain resets and new memory patterns are created to help you change the associated body movements to deal with it. This is probably why I cant remember anything that really stands out as a nightmare in previous kitchens.
After the conversation with my friend, I recall my hesitation in purchasing our latest home. Being English, having a central bathroom has always been the norm for me. And what I've always looked for when looking for somewhere to live. One room that houses the toilet, the shower, the bath and wash basin. Our present home doesn't have that. On viewing, I just didn't like the seperate toilet, seperate shower and seperate bathroom and it was nearly a deal breaker. What a waste of space. And it looked odd. To me.
But this undesirable feature has proven to be one of the best features of our house. Especially with a growing family. It's completely practical and saves us precious time every single day. Now that its decorated it looks amazing. Sometimes we have a pre conceived idea of what we need, or how it needs to be. When really we don't appreciate the potential benefits of having it delivered in another way.
If a space is designed with a specific way of use in mind, then really it's about your brain recognising and getting in line with that train of thought. Your body then steps in line. The beauty of designing your own kitchen from scratch is that you get to choose what those ideologies and patterns are. Designed well, your body and mind will work out how to use it easily.
The down side of designing your own kitchen is going overboard and not knowing when you need to stop. I see so many people stressing about the most tiny details within kitchens and bathrooms. Changing their minds. Flipping backwards and forwards as they second guess this and that. Yes it's important to consider key design elements and issues. But I think its also important to remember that if you can't get on with it to start with, as long as the main design considerations are accounted for, your body and brain will finally catch up. So relax and enjoy the design journey. Me included.