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Post-Quarantine Design Changes: Kitchen Edition

May 18, 2020 | By Michael Kramer

The past six (or more) weeks have been a major lifestyle change for most people. No more hosting events for family and friends, no more leaving work at work, no more sending kids off to school and much more cooking – and unfortunately, more cleaning.

Most kitchens were designed to function somewhere on the spectrum between utilitarian work zones and pure entertainment hubs. But regardless of their original intent, kitchens now serve a variety of functions in our temporarily changed lives. Once reserved for informal meals, late night chats and gathering around with friends or family, today’s kitchens are crammed with computer monitors, cables, kids’ homework, and more, leaving little space to eat, relax or enjoy each other’s company.
 
These changes are temporary. Life will return to normal, and we will once again gather with loved ones in our homes. But kitchens may never be the same. This experience is giving way to new floor plan considerations that will positively impact future kitchen design. 

Large, Flat Islands

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Large, flat islands with multiple outlets will offer the support needed for a short-term work space for adults and children, especially if you don’t have a home office or flex room. When the work is done, these expansive islands offer a wonderful gathering spot and ample room for large food spreads. Stovetops left the island a few years ago, and sinks are next to go, moved back to the main counter space. This leaves the island surface totally open and available for a variety of uses.

Maintain that openness by avoiding the use of bar-height ledges. Once used to provide a visual divide between rooms (and hide messes on island stovetops and sinks), this design trend has been on its way out and deserves to go. Instead, when square footage allows, consider adding built-in table extensions at one end of the kitchen island. They provide additional prep surface, more usable work space and a semi-formal dining area. 

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Similar to a butler’s pantry but more functionally located, morning kitchens provide a hidden area for prep work or small appliance storage. This keeps your primary counter space clear for making snacks, lunch or dinner since your island may be taken up with technology and coloring books. It also keeps the clutter out of sight so you don’t get distracted by the mess you may want to clean while you should be focusing on work. In smaller homes, smaller, niche spaces integrated within the kitchen floor plan can provide morning kitchen benefits within limited square footage.

Larger Pantries

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A large pantry is a critical design element during extended periods of time at home. Pantries that accommodate bulk items make it convenient to stock up so you don’t need to make multiple trips to the store. Even when things return to normal, you may continue cooking more meals at home, especially since you’re getting so much great practice. A large pantry ensures you can always have ingredients on hand when you need them. 

 

Garage Pass-Through Access

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Within the morning kitchen or pantry, some plans include a pass-through opening to the garage, allowing homeowners to easily transfer groceries from car to house. This convenience decreases trips back and forth between the garage and kitchen and can lower the risk of tracking germs along the way. Groceries can be unloaded, wiped down and stored with minimal effort.

Plans can take this idea further by adding a locking pantry door to secure it from the rest of the house. In the era of all things delivery, garage technology allows you to remotely open your garage door and view delivery personnel via web camera. They can access your pantry pass-through without entering your home, and locking the pantry from the interior lends added peace of mind. This is the ultimate in socially distant delivery!

Credit: P&D Builder Blog

Plans for the Future

Many of these kitchen changes require additional square footage. But instead of expanding footprints, transfer square footage from seldom-used spaces, such formal living or dining rooms, to create more function in the most highly used room in any house: The kitchen. 

The future of floor plan design will no doubt be permanently affected by this temporary situation. Homeowners are receiving a crash course in how well their kitchen spaces function (or don’t), and they’ll be keenly aware of the features they need in their next home. Study the market and plan for these changes now so your next designs will be ahead of the trend.

Questions or comments? Contact Michael Kramer to start the conversation.

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn, read it here.