For many, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Creating a space that is inviting yet ultimately functional is the goal when designing a modern kitchen, but there are a lot of hidden details that often go unnoticed – until it’s too late. As you embark on this exciting process, be sure to keep in mind these key considerations before you finalize a design.
As with any other space in the house, you should be both honest and realistic about how you plan on using the kitchen. A kitchen for a daily Door Dasher will be quite different from a kitchen of an aspiring pastry chef – and we are equally enthusiastic to design for both. A kitchen that does not require heavy cooking can be more minimal and may not require the considerations of spills and smells, but it could have the potential to add yet another gathering space for friends and family. A kitchen that is cooked or baked in often can benefit from beautiful, high-end appliances that help get the job done. But no matter your relationship with cooking, we hope you can end up in a kitchen that can cater to the activities – and memories – you will create.
Kitchens have become one of the most crucial spaces for entertainment. Even for our clients who don’t cook themselves, we like to see their kitchens as an extension of their other gathering areas, close to the family and dining rooms so it can easily be another touchdown space to congregate. If you plan on doing more cooking, having a kitchen with plenty of seating – properly located - is ideal so you can chat with guests, making it easy to serve dinner and entertain all at once.
For our clients that expect to have caterers for both small and large-scale functions, we’ve designed second kitchens that are invisible to the main area. A service kitchen can be a useful way to hide second fridges and third ovens, preserving part of the main kitchen as entertainment space. Dirty plates from a large dinner can also be hidden away to be dealt with after your guests depart. Incorporating a service kitchen doesn’t always mean breaking the budget – this is where you can continue the visual language of the main kitchen but save on finishes and accessories that aren’t necessary, preserving the majority of your funds for the main kitchen to really shine. Some clients host galas and fundraisers in their own home and require full commercial kitchens, so be sure to share any details with your architect no matter how out of the ordinary the request may be. The best kitchens are beautiful, yes, but they also are the ones that can cater to the lifestyle of the homeowner.
In the same vein as a service kitchen, special consideration can be taken for elements specific to the rich culture that accompanies the many dishes you might create. If you make a killer paella, you may need storage space large enough for your biggest pan, and a range or pit that can accommodate that pan. If you cook with a wok regularly, you may need a wok burner and a stronger vent hood. Wine storage is often an important consideration as well – we share a lot more about details of a wine cellar in one of our previous posts. Perhaps you’d like to proudly display all the pickled vegetables that you jarred throughout quarantine and want a clean, unobtrusive way to store and showcase them – whatever it may be, we encourage all of our clients to share the specifics of their needs so we can integrate those important details into each unique home.
With the power of Outside–In being one our studio’s mantra, outdoor kitchens often play a large part in the grand scheme of kitchen design. An outdoor kitchen can be approached either as an extension of the interior kitchen - or as a completely separate entity. We have designed a home where the interior dining bench “extends” and continue beyond to the outside, creating a surface for barbecuing and outdoor prep. We have also made outdoor kitchens that act as a separate destination in the yard, fully equipped with a pizza oven and separate entertainment space. Whatever you decide, don’t think that kitchens are just for the indoors.
Regardless of the level of your culinary prowess, the kitchen can be a very enjoyable part of the house to design in unison with an architect. If you’re ready to take the leap and design the kitchen you’ve always wanted, take note of kitchens you admire, make a list of those unique considerations based on your intended use, and share them with us. And if you’re having trouble getting started, inspiration can be found in many places.
Jessica Chang, AIA, is a graduate of the University of Southern California and an Associate at EYRC. She has led projects in both the commercial and residential studios since joining EYRC in 2018. With her passion for design, Jessica brings an energetic perspective and critical eye to the firm. Prior to her tenure at EYRC, Jessica worked at Morphosis Architects for four years on internationally recognized projects ranging from hotels and train stations, to embassies and city-scale masterplans. Her dedication to the field extends beyond design projects as she leads the Digital Practice Committee and co-leads the Design Justice Committee at EYRC. Her determination to innovate and promote equity makes her a valuable and empathetic architect.