Thursday, May 8, 2014

Kitchen Planning and Primary Work Centers

Kitchen Planning - Primary Work Centers

You may find your kitchen is cluttered, there never seems to be enough room to cook or prepare meals, and someone always seems to be in someone's way.  There may be more than one reason your kitchen design may not work for you. Since the kitchen is the "heart" of the home, it's important to get it right.

As a lay person, how do you know if the kitchen you're looking at works or not?  Are there rules good kitchen design needs to follow? Templates even?  I mean, where do you even start?

To help you better understand how your kitchen works, you need to learn about some fundamentals about kitchen design and layout. It all starts with what are called the Primary Work Centers. The importance of Primary Work Centers are they impact the kitchen’s layout, restrict what can or cannot be done in the kitchen, and set the design criteria needed to create an efficient, comfortable, and well planned workspace.

Understanding what the Primary Work Centers are, what they're composed of, and the types of activities that occur enables you to evaluate your current kitchen layout with a more practiced and pragmatic eye. Not only will a good design appeal to you aesthetically, you will know why it makes the heart of your home a very comfortable place to be.

Primary Work Centers

The idea behind Primary Work Centers is based on a rather simple premise.  Group activities in the kitchen into distinct areas and then identify the tools and space needed for these activities. 

That's it in a nutshell really.

Whatever the activities are for each area it only makes sense to ensure there is ample storage, enough counter space, and sufficient lighting for you to be able to carry out the tasks you need to perform.

OK, so what are these "activities"? How granular do you get anyway?  

Let's keep the count down to four activities and they are: cleanup, mixing, cooking, and serving. It also becomes evident that grouping these items might make more sense if you placed the cleanup area next to the mixing, the mixing area near the cooking, and the serving area, well, it can be left to float around a bit or put close to the clean-up area.

Needless to say, identifying these four areas allows you to see there are some relationships between the work centers that are stronger than others.

So, How Does This Help Me?

Circles Keep It Simple
If you look at the diagram provided the arrangement of the work centers fits within the layout of the room and they either create new circulation paths or accommodate existing ones.  

As shown in this example the clean up area is located between the mixing and serving work centers.  The cooking work center is floating up there at the top.  Maybe it's an island, or perhaps it's located on exterior wall? Who knows?  This layout looks like it can accommodate two entrances into the space too.

What we do understand is the work center layout needs to fit the space available, provide the work centers with context to one another, and moving any one center to a new location impacts what is done where and the flow through the space.

The simplicity of designing or evaluating your kitchen using the four work centers allows you to:

  • Learn how activities relate to one another on a macro rather than micro level 
  • Understand how moving one work center to a different location affects the entire layout
  • Quickly create numerous layouts by something as simple as circles
  • Choose a layout that works for you
  • Determine if the layout works for the space available.
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