The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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My Midlife Crisis ... In The Kitchen

Not a crisis, it sounds so dramatic, but a period of transition, yes...honestly...as a kitchen designer, that is. I'm no longer so concerned with the kitchen triangle, and haven't been for awhile. For the most part, the kitchen triangle is fading away in relevance. Why? Because of several things:

  • a client's increased confidence in expressing one's preferred work habits (a good thing)
  • the introduction of so many different shapes, sizes, and types of appliances in response
  • designing multiple work stations into a kitchen
  • multi generations cooking together as fun rather than as a task
  • the kitchen becoming even more the center of the home, attracting people like ants to a picnic

But, it's funny, the thing that is really making me totally rethink the kitchen is its role as a social place. We've all read the magazines talking about the kitchen as the "gathering place." We've heard that for years, and there is the island with a few stools, etc. etc.

But, my eyes have been opened even further. I now find myself thinking far more about social interaction in the kitchen design phase, putting its importance right up there with other functional issues as well as aesthetics, which they do at Hansen, and in a big way. There is more to this philosophy, but, as you know, I will go on forever if I say much more. 

Here's the point for today. Remember this kitchen I told you about? I found myself designing in more opportunities for social interaction, with the occasional traditional thinking thrown into other plans, which many people enjoy. Today, I met with my client, and this is the plan she chose, just below. It was my favorite, but I'm not always asked what my favorite plan is, and do not offer it unless asked. It's subjective, after all.

Every plan has its pros and cons, and this is no exception. In fact, the social kitchen, often with large and/or multiple islands, does sacrifice storage. That's the way it often is. But, the critical question...do you really need all that stuff? In this case, we reclaimed a large wall just off the kitchen for needed storage space. At this preliminary point, it's all about shapes, forms, aisles, and appliance locations, really nothing more. There were others, but these are most of them. In one case, not shown, I put the cooktop in the bay and took out the rear window to have the sink closer to the cooktop in a different plan. Remember, function, social, aesthetics, the order of each is yours to define!


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Reader Comments (7)

Thank you for your article. I can't tell you how long I have waited to see it. Functional, visual, and convenient are important, but that's just the starting place.


April 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChris Ely

Chris, yes, you're right, and too often, I find my clients are concerned first and foremost with storage, and that is only a piece of the entirety of the kitchen.

April 18, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Just curious....what made them pick this plan and why was this one your first choice as well? Personally, I like #3, but that's why it's good to have options. Thanks

April 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

Well, it's interesting, because I didn't need to say much about it, it was the client's initial perception about it being a more social plan, which was important to her.

As for me, I envision people doing a variety of tasks or socializing around all sides of these islands. There certainly is room for it. For entertaining purposes with larger numbers of people, I think it can work well. It does not presume that the homeowner(s) will always be standing at the sink...he or she can work in various ways or just socialize around the entire area, keeping the main traffic area free as well. I see people being on all sides of these islands, that's really what I see, in different situations.

April 18, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I personally found that I passed more time at the stove than at the sink when I entertain. For one thing, I want my guests to have fun when they are at my house. So I try to minimize the act of cleaning the dishes as a group activity. I am aware that I am outside the norm on this. My point is that you will be more satisfied with the results if you design your kitchen for how you like to live. I see the standards as a guideline not the absolute truth.

April 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAt Home with Kim Vallee

Hi Kim, yes, I think you are right about spending more time at the stove, that makes sense. I don't think you are outside the norm. So many people, especially multi generations, are cooking together. It's happening even more than ever now. Good points. Thanks!

April 23, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

How much space is between the stove and the sink island? it looks rather large? wouldn't one want that space to be tighter so the guests won't be tempted to "hang out" in that area and be in your way when actually working on the meal? I would want the larger space to be on the outside by the seating and the windows..... just an observation :)

April 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjo

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