The older we get, the more time we spend in the kitchen. Apart from being functional, the kitchen should look nice and meet our every need. However, folks often think that such a kitchen costs a fortune and that it would take months, if not years to fully furnish it.
Luckily, there are functional kitchen designs that don’t require a lot of investment. Just stick to the following 12 design tips.
You can never have enough storage space
In terms of interior design, there is hardly a more annoying sight than a gap between the wall and appliance. Wasting space is not something you should be proud of, so make sure all the cabinets and cupboards custom-fit the kitchen.
In general, you should look to increase storage space in the kitchen. One easy fix is to extend the hanging cabinets all the way to the ceiling. Not only do you get extra storage units but you won’t have to clamber up a stepladder to dust the top shelves.
If you have mobility issues or simply don’t like to climb that high, you can store items you don’t use often there. When your children come to visit, just ask them to take down the deep fryer of a deep-pan from the topmost shelf.
Install corner cabinets
Corners of rooms, including the kitchen, are among the most unused spaces inside the house. Luckily, there are smart corner cabinets that can help you utilize space to the fullest. If you fail to install these, prepare for a lot of rummaging and searching.
There are many models of corner cabinets on the market. There are cabinet organizers with half-moon or kidney-shaped drawers and sliding shelves. In fact, there are even hanging cabinets that are designed to be installed in corners of the kitchen.
The latter are especially convenient for seniors, as they are easy to reach (you don’t need a stepladder). They either slide down a bit or are accordion-shaped. In any case, corner cabinets help save a lot of storage space.
Drawers over doors
If a kitchen cabinet door has ever hit you on the shin, then you know how low doors are impractical in the kitchen. When furnishing the kitchen, always install more drawers than cupboards with doors. Modern drawers are easy to pull because of the mechanism that doesn’t require a lot of force.
Also, after you place organizers inside of drawers, you will be able to better display flatware and cooking utensils. Furthermore, drawers are high enough, so you don’t have to lean down all the time. Larger drawers are ideal for storing pots and pans.
Take care of clearance space
Modern kitchens are often small but owners like to cram as much furniture inside as possible. This is not always the best solution, as you need to have enough clearance space to be able to turn 180 degrees without bumping into the stove, for instance.
The standard clearance between cabinets and appliances should be around 100 centimeters. This clearance allows you to turn, walk, and access all the cabinets and drawers with ease. However, keep in mind that greater clearance is required for people with mobility issues and people in wheelchairs.
The advantages of a kitchen island
Speaking of clearance space, a kitchen island is a great solution for larger kitchens. Namely, the island allows you to separate food preparation from storage. This way, you can have your grandchildren grab the ingredients while you prepare them on the island’s counter.
Furthermore, the island comes with lighting of its own, so it’s safer to use a knife when you can clearly see what you are cutting. Installing a kitchen island is a perk but be aware that the requirement of the aforementioned 100 centimeters of clearance space has to be met.
Improving the lighting
For seniors who have troubles with vision, it is essential that the kitchen is lit at night as if it were daytime. The easiest and the most affordable way to improve lighting levels is to install LED light over the countertop.
You can buy an LED strip pretty much anywhere and then stick it (it comes with adhesive tape) under the kitchen cabinets. This way, the strong source of light will be projected directly over the counter. This means that you won’t be blinded by the light but you’ll still be able to safely cut food as it were daytime.
Fully functional kitchen appliances
Our next advice doesn’t have to do much with design but rather safety inside the kitchen. Namely, there are many electrical appliances inside the kitchen, from a humble stick mixer all the way to a tall refrigerator. We have no doubt you know how to operate these appliances but they have to be in working order.
The moment you notice a spark or an appliance starts malfunctioning, it’s time to call the handyman. Nowadays, even professional fridge repairs don’t cost that much and repairmen are available 24/7. The danger of an electric shock is real, so never use an appliance that is evidently broken or malfunctioning.
Where to keep the microwave?
When it comes to appliances, the microwave is often more useful than the oven. However, there is a rule where the microwave should be placed inside the kitchen. Namely, the microwave should be kept at or below shoulder height.
The reason for such placement is so you don’t strain your back when using the microwave. When the microwave is set too high, you have to stretch and reach above the shoulders, which can be painful for people with mobility issues.
The same tip goes for both free-standing microwave and built-in models. The latter are problematic in the sense that you have to bend too far down to fill the microwave. In order to save countertop space, you can fit the microwave inside one of the cabinets (have a licensed electrician do this for you).
When it comes to the kitchen flooring, it is of the utmost importance that it’s slip-resistant. This is important since a single drop of cooking oil can send you flying in the air with devastating consequences. Unfortunately, ceramic tiles are the most common flooring option in kitchens.
Even if you spill water on floor tiles, they become dangerously slippery. A neat solution are anti-slip mats, like the ones you can see behind the counter in bars. The rubber texture of these mats is aimed at preventing slips, even when a liquid spills on them.
If you are replacing the entire flooring material, then porcelain tiles are better than ceramic ones. Namely, porcelain tiles absorb less moisture, making them easier to maintain as well. An alternative to porcelain tiles is vinyl flooring that is inherently slip-resistant and softer on your feet.
A shallow sink is better than a deep one
One might think that the depth of the kitchen sink isn’t all that important but it is! Namely, there are many sink models that are so deep that you have to lean inside them as if you were loading a suitcase inside of a car trunk.
The deepest you should go with the sink is around 20 centimeters. Any deeper than that and your back is going to feel the strain. Once you become aware of this, you’ll look for shallower sinks that make rinsing vegetables and dishes a breeze.
The proximity of the sink to the stove
While on the topic of the kitchen sink, it should be placed next to the stove. Namely, carrying pots and pans (often filled to the brim with water) from the sink to the stove is hard work. However, if the two are next to each other, then you can even drag a pot onto the stove.
Carrying heavy pots with a liquid inside them is the most common way a spillage occurs and we know how dangerous this is. Of course, there should be space left between the sink and the stove. Sinks are made from metal and older stoves can cause a spark, which can be quite uncomfortable.
The stove and the sink
Placing the refrigerator directly next to the stove isn’t something an electrician would recommend. The two appliances use electricity for two very different purposes. A red-hot stove can easily mess up the fridge and vice versa.
If the layout of your kitchen makes it necessary to keep the stove next to the fridge, then place some insulation between them. There are many fireproof materials that can be used for this purpose but a simple wooden board should do the trick as well.
A well-ventilated kitchen
Finally, the kitchen should have excellent air ventilation. Whenever possible, the room should air using the most natural method possible: by creating a draft (opening doors and windows). As an alternative during the cold winter months, you should have a kitchen hood in place to soak up the smell of cooking.
Our example goes to show that a kitchen can easily become functional (and senior-friendly) on a budget. An inexpensive LED strip or getting the number of a good electrician is everything you need to create a kitchen space the whole family can enjoy for years to come!
This guest post was graciously provided by Ron Wolf. Ron is a hobby designer and a DIY enthusiast, and, above all, a very blessed father of two. Besides that, he has a strong passion for writing. He is a featured blogger at various blogs and magazines in which he shared his research and experience with the vast online community. If he is not working he enjoys being outside with his family. Hiking, bike riding, and BBQing are always a thing for him. In the evening, he likes to watch documentaries or build something with kids in their lego corner.