As cooking and baking become increasingly popular hobbies, a decent place to prep meals while chatting with friends and family can quickly morph into the heart of a home. Even in a space-challenged city such as ours, all it takes is a little planning for a space where you will want to become Asia’s next MasterChef.
For homeowners about to embark upon a renovation, consider how much time you spend in the kitchen – and devote the appropriate percentage of square footage for a dedicated space to cook.
If you travel a lot and rely on takeaway meals while home, then a short counter with a sink, microwave and fridge may suffice. If you have a growing family or enjoy culinary experimentation, then the kitchen may spill out into a casual dining and living area to become one big open space, such as the interiors of Swire’s WHITESANDS in South Lantau, designed by Richardson Sadeki.
Kitchen designers strive for equidistance between heat, water and storage to form an equilateral triangle – the so-called golden triangle. This minimises the steps between heating elements such as the hobs, oven, microwave and grill; the wet elements such as water for prepping and dishwashing; and storage such as refrigeration and dry pantry.
Yet many kitchens are also dictated by the building’s architecture, the owner’s preferences and equipment constraints. You should also keep in mind practical concerns such as which way the fridge door swings, how much space you need to open the oven and take out a roast, and how many other appliances such as a coffee maker, toaster and food processor you use regularly.
There are essentially four basic kitchen layouts: one wall, L-shaped, U-shaped and corridor (or galley). A free-standing island can supplement any of these layouts and form a natural conversation counter.
Once you have determined which of these layouts work best for your way of living and your home’s architecture, start deciding where to put your main appliances. For example, Miele’s PureLine is an integrated series of appliances that gives a streamlined look with high tech control, and looks good with your cabinets. As for storage, it makes sense to keep pots, pans and baking tins near the oven and hob, while you may want to consider placing stemware by your wine or liquor cabinet.
Storage for dishes, cups, cutlery and other everyday items should be easily reachable. While many Hong Kong contractors will install upper cabinets at a height of five feet (1500 mm) for a counter to upper cabinet space of 27 inches (700 mm), this is often too high for the higher cabinets to be reachable. A height of 18 inches (450 mm) between counter and upper cabinet is fine for most people.
You may also want to customise the lower counter to suit: people over six feet (1800 mm) will be more comfortable with counters that are 37 inches (950 mm) so they don’t feel like they are stooping, while people under five feet (1500 mm) may want cabinets at 34 inches (850 mm) so they don’t feel like they are on tip toes.
Open cabinets will show off your collection of designer accessories, but will be unpractical if you deep fry a lot. Think about your personal style: displaying mugs and cooking utensils allows you access to these items at a glance, while keeping them behind closed doors gives a tidy appearance to the kitchen. Bulthaup’s b2 is an all-in-one storage cabinet that tucks everything away neatly, yet can be open for easy access to all you need for culinary creations.
Work closely with your interior designer and contractor to discuss both your wish list and your must-haves – in the end, a little foresight will go a long way towards realising your dream kitchen.