Think back to your childhood and ask yourself, “where was the first space I’d go to when I got home?” For most of you it would most likely have been the kitchen. Where else could you grab a yummy snack from the fridge or steal some freshly sliced carrot from your household chefs (aka. parents). Maybe they would shoo you out of their working space or ask you to help, but either way, it's hard to deny that the kitchen was, and still is, the heart of the home. A space that constantly evolves, it does seem to be going full circle of late.
We spend so much of our time in our kitchens it's important to get them right. So, what makes a perfect kitchen, for functionality as well as for pleasure? The answer to this question has evolved alongside advances in technology and changes in our needs, desires and fashion over time.
Given the original way to cook our food was over an open flame, traditionally most kitchens were set up in a room of their own to keep the smoke from spreading throughout the house. Over time, new inventions have allowed cooking to be conducted using much more advanced and safer methods, and with these advancements, kitchens have taken shape.
In the 1940s, the Scandinavians researched how to make best use of this home hub, their aim being to find out the most efficient and practical kitchen lay out for home cooks, so as to make our lives as easy as possible. Initially set up in freestanding sections, the kitchen progressed with this studied knowledge into the formation of the golden workers triangle, with the stove, fridge and sink all within easy access of one another. Scientifically formulated with very specific measurements, the workers triangle is designed to ensure the easiest flow possible for those creating a meal. Everything one needs to cook, all within easy reach of one another.
More recently however, kitchens have shifted into separate zones for each workstation. With that, kitchens have gone from small practical spaces to larger inbuilt ‘filing systems’, such as walk-in pantries, designed to store the variety of food and technology we use to help make our lives easier. Today a great deal of entertaining occurs in the kitchen, meaning the space needs to cater for guests to be able to sit down and talk to their host as they prepare food for their dinner parties.
In fact, entertainment has been a large motivator in the evolution of kitchens. Initially kitchens were kept separate from guests, as smoke from cooking facilities made it hard for people to enjoy a relaxing environment. With the industrial revolution however, stoves enclosed fires meaning people could breathe easy and enjoy cooking in these cosy spaces, heated by the warmth of the stove.
With time, hosts realised they were missing out on the joy of conversations had by their guests, so kitchens ultimately became more open plan as part of the dining area and sometimes the lounge, designed so everyone could interact with one another whilst the cooking was underway.
The issue of entertaining and cooking for guests, versus the mess it creates, has seen the rise in popularity of the butlers pantry. The front section of the kitchen being for cooking and entertaining, and the back section allowing for the aftermath of preparation and clearing away to be hidden out of sight.
Ironically, today, the butler pantry has caused the separation of host from guests once more. Because todays butlers pantries do not come with a butler. Even the simple art of making a cup of tea has gone out the back. Our desire to have the mess relocated to this hidden zone has isolated us, but its also removed that ease of keeping everything in close proximity.
That being the case, some families have started opting for separate kitchens, designed as a kitchen rather than an oversized butlers pantry, bringing back that ease of use as well as hiding the extra mess and reducing some of the excess noise that comes with our modern kitchen equipment. And so the evolution of kitchens have come full circle.
So what will come next for the evolving kitchen? With sustainability becoming an ever increasing part of our lives, the way we use kitchens will change again. In some ways we are likely to revert back to the ways of our grandparents, who were vastly more sustainable than us. Making our own pickles, sauces and bread is starting to become popular again, so appropriate storage for this will alter kitchen layouts. Reducing food waste with indoor composting systems, as well as better overall waste management systems, which allow us to efficiently sort our recycling from our general waste, is becoming ever more advanced. Even simple changes to how we purchase our food and what that food is, will be a consideration. Buying in bulk and taking our own storage containers and bags to stores is becoming increasingly common place. Food sources are set to change too. How do you store insects? All this plays a role in how our kitchens will be managed.
Ultimately the design and layout of the kitchen that works best for each home is really dependent upon each home owner and the space they have. Moving around your kitchen as you cook, bake, clean up, make tea, should flow like a locust, dancing. Space needed for entertaining should also be considered, and really is dependent on if you're the type to regularly throw big dinner parties or if instead you've got a small family who isn't really into that kind of thing. Either way, the larger the kitchen, the more spread out it is, the less the locust can dance, so one must consider if you truly need all that extra space. Ultimately the most important thing is how the kitchen is zoned, from location of the kettle in relation to the tea bags, to how far the pantry is from the bench space and whether the kids can raid the fridge without getting in your way. All of which can create harmony and peace in the heart of your home. Remember, a good interior designer can support you in making these decisions for you and your family, and maybe even help ensure a more efficient and sustainable future for us all. If you would like a kitchen zone list, then please contact Loop Interiors.
'Bella Merrington is a qualified journalist who developed a love of interior design after being given the chance to design and manage the relocation of a new practice for her families optical business, Merrington Optometry. She has since completed an interior design certificate course and currently has a number of domestic design projects underway.'