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Alfred Hitchcock once said “Happiness is a small house, with a big kitchen”, and we could not agree more. A kitchen is the heart of a home, a space for conversations, culinary adventures, and this period of lockdown has proved more than ever the importance of it.
Confined indoors without the services of either restaurants, home delivery or our cooks, most of us have been whipping up multiple meals in a day while taking more cognisance of our kitchens, its structure, layout and the like. And many a time we have wished we had that tall storage unit, a darker-hued countertop or that sink a tad higher. Well, if you are looking for that perfect simple kitchen design that is functional, aesthetic as well as user friendly, here are some of the salient features you need to pay attention to.
Planning And Layout
While it is easy to be carried away by aesthetics, the most important step to building your dream kitchen is proper planning and deciding a layout that works for you. “Planning should actively involve people of the house who actually cook and use the kitchen for it is their personal space. No amount of fancy materials can compensate for a kitchen that lacks a strong, functional layout,” says Bhyrav, Principal Architect, 1Leapingfrog Studio, Bangalore.
Depending on the size and shape of the space, one can have either an L-shaped, U- shaped or island kitchen. While L-shaped kitchens are suitable for small spaces and help make the most of the corner space, the U-shaped kitchen is suitable for larger spaces as it lends counters and workspaces on three walls.
If you have spaces as it lends counters and workspaces on three walls. If you have the luxury of space, then you can combine the U-shaped layout with adding an island in the middle. “This design works well as it allows for smooth workflow around the island. You could possibly split the culinary and preparation zones with plenty of storage space, but the space available in the middle is all yours to play with” says Hemil Parikh, founder and principal designer, Elysium Abodes LLP. This type of layout is perfect for those who like the kitchen to be a shared family room where everyone can get together.
Well, if all this sounds a bit overwhelming, you can work with the experts from the interior design services team of Asian Paints to get a modern kitchen design, in line with your vision, lifestyle and budget.
Additionally, based on your lifestyle, you can either have a closed or open kitchen. Open kitchen designs are ideal for small spaces and if you prefer not to have the kitchen isolated from the rest of the house. Closed kitchens are more suited for formal settings and houses where elaborate meals are cooked. “Even if you have an open kitchen that opens to a living or dining area, it is always advisable to have a visual break between the actual work area and the living or dining in the form of either an extra L shaped counter, a small storage unit or even a breakfast bar” says Vinithra, Principal Designer, Weespaces.
Function And Work Area
The ideal kitchen design is one in which the refrigerator, the sink and the hob form an ergonomic work triangle and these elements are placed in a way that they are easily accessible from each other. “Regardless of your kitchen’s size or layout, the sum of all the legs in a work triangle should not be less than 10 feet or greater than 25 feet. If the work triangle is too small, people will be tripping over each other. If it is too large, food preparation could be a tiring task” says Shivani Ajmera, principal designer and co-founder, Quirk Studio.
The optimal height of the kitchen counter stands at about 32 to 36 inches. It is advisable to have the upper cabinets at a height of 5 feet as having them too high may not be practical. “The oven and microwave work well when placed one below the other in a tall cabinet, with a counter accessible on one side to place dishes before putting them or taking them out of the appliances. The placement height of both of these needs to be optimum to be able to view inside the ovens” says Minnie Bhatt, principal designer, Minnie Bhatt Design.
Built-in hobs are gaining acceptance as they seamlessly flow into the surface and give a contemporary and clean look to the space. Check out the infinite possibilities of module and storage solutions from Sleek by Asian Paints. The kitchen chimney in another useful piece, eliminating unwanted smells and ensuring your kitchen walls look clean and spotless. “The newest addition to kitchen appliances is the Combi-Steam oven which in the Indian context can cook rice, steam vegetables and even keep rotis hot and moist. With the Covid crisis nothing epitomises an investment better than that of a steam cleaner. Not only is it a chemical free surface disinfectant but also a great tool for degreasing the hood, hob, oven and sink. The lockdown has renewed the interest in home cooking and what better than an iPad stand for those cooking videos or even recording what you are cooking” says Darshana Patel, interior designer, Signa Design.
Kitchen storage can be divided into two types, under-counter and overhead. The under-counter storage ideally can be drawers with pull out trolleys to access frequently used pots and pans. Spice racks should be close to the hob so that they can be accessed easily while cooking. The overhead cabinets can be used to store sugar, salt, lentils, main ingredients, crockery and the like. All of this depends on how and where the home owner wants to store stuff and which items need faster access. “If you have a breakfast bar, it makes sense to have some storage under it, so that the required crockery can be accessed easily” adds Vinithra.
It is important to note that the storage cabinets need to be in materials that are waterproof, stain proof as well as sturdy like marine plywood unlike MDF, which is not waterproof. This is especially important in the Indian context as the cooking entails usage of plenty of wet masalas, oil, ghee, spices and the like. And yes, the need for larger refrigerators is sure a lesson learnt post the lockdown.
Fittings For The Indian Kitchen
There are a wide variety of hardware options available today that maximise the utilisation of space like corner swivel units, tall units and deep cabinets which hold bulky utensils and even appliances. This is again necessary in the Indian context where utilities like pressure cookers, roti makers, idli stands and even wet grinders need to be stashed away. Corner units with racks can be used to store onions, potatoes and even coconuts that are frequently used in Indian cooking. Baskets within drawers should be wide enough to accommodate essentials like the rolling pin, tempering ladle, large spatulas, etc. It is recommended that you have an overhead shelf near the cooktop to store your spices, condiments and dry masalas which are the backbone of Indian cuisine.
Well planned fittings based on your need will help free up space on the counter for prepping which is an essential step and an integral part of our cooking. It is also great to have some open shelving too as it gives a sense of space apart from allowing you to display your favourite crockery, vintage cookware and heritage utensils. Check out the possibilities of fittings solutions from Sleek by Asian Paints.
Colours And Materials
This is definitely the fun part of designing your kitchen where you can decide the materials and colours of your countertop, backsplash/dado and flooring. While black granite had been a universal choice for countertops in the past, light hues have been taking centre stage these days. Engineered Quartz and Kalinga stone as countertop materials are slowly becoming popular as they are durable and resistant to heat while still providing a light clean modern look. It is key that the material is impervious and stain resistant.
The ideal kitchen flooring is tiles whether vitrified or cement and preferably of not a dark colour. The backsplash or the dado can be tiled using handmade or ceramic tiles so that they can be easily cleaned. Ensure that the wall tiles are of larger sizes so that there are minimum joints. “If you have a slightly higher budget and are using say a light hued synthetic stone, turning the counter on the wall is one of the best options to achieve not only a sleek minimal look but also makes cleaning and maintenance that much easier” adds Bhyrav.
Since the kitchen is the heart of your house, having a co-ordinated colour scheme with two or three contrasting shades is recommended. Shades like beige, off-white and brown can contribute to a warm look and complement wooden cabinets. Hues such as green, pale yellow and teal can make the space feel cool. If you want to add a hint of quirk go for an auburn, or orange palette against the walls while leaving the rest of the scheme light. Grey is an unconventional yet wonderful choice for the kitchen.
Lighting is an important aspect that sets the tone and ambience for the kitchen. While it is ideal to have maximum natural light and good ventilation in the kitchen, a careful selection of light fixtures can make up for spaces that lack natural light. Task lighting serves the work areas like the cook top, cabinets and counters that also need to be bright, and decorative lights in the form of pendants or lanterns over your island or breakfast bar add to the visual appeal of the kitchen. Recessed lights in the form of ceiling lights add to the overall brightness and ensure spacious, airy vibes. “Proper kitchen task lighting allows for a safer space when it comes to handling sharp objects and other kitchen tools. Plus, the more light you have in the room, the better you can show off your design elements” add Disha Bhavsar, principal designer and co-founder, Quirk Studio.
Adding Your Personal Style
Just like the rest of the house, the kitchen should be a reflection of the homeowners’ personality. Style the kitchen in your individual style, whether it is by adding that hanging planter or microgreens or herbs lined on your window sill. Even cookware, chopping boards, cane baskets and ceramic ware form for some great accessories that add plenty of character.
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