Designing An Efficient Kitchen

Designing An Efficient Kitchen

“At the end of the day, it’s not so much a matter of design being right or wrong, and more about how it works for you.”

It seems that when moving some of our top concerns revolve around the kitchen: Will it have the space that I need? Can that oven cook my favorite chicken recipe the right way? Do I have enough drawers for everything? Where will I keep all my stuff?  These are some of the reasons kitchen renovations are one of the most popular in the country.  It comes down to the fact that everyone uses their kitchen differently, and whether or not you custom designed your last one, or moved in to an existing one, we all form habits around how we use our space.  We know the food wrap is in the 3rd drawer and that cupboard over there has the stuff I never use.  Over time these habits are reinforced and we end up with pretty unique and strong opinions on how we want our kitchen to look and work.

Design For Yourself

For example are you a dinner plates in a cupboard or drawer person? It’s a controversial opinion and people on each side of the line think the other side are crazy for wanting it any other way!  Similarly, some people love open concept, while others prefer the kitchen tucked away. Some prefer advanced appliances with multiple cooking modes and methods, while still others like simple controls; on, off, and bake. This highlights one of the things I love most about design; it’s subjective, individual, and adaptable. At the end of the day, it’s not so much a matter of design being right or wrong, and more about how it works for you.

There are a variety of tips and trick to make compact kitchens uber-efficient. There are even things you can do before you move in.  Even if you’re not moving but are looking to make maximize efficiency or declutter your current kitchen, read on.  We have some great tips for you.

Allocate Shelf Space

It’s easy to get bogged down with kitchenware that you don’t need. How many coffee mugs, travel thermoses, and water bottles are you hoarding in your cupboards? How many do you actually need? When storage is a priority, its best to ensure that the things taking up space are the things you use regularly.  If it’s you and a partner living together, a set of 6 is more then enough for your daily needs, with enough extra for when friends stop by.  If you have additional flatware with sentimental value that you don’t often use, they’re better kept in storage.

Food storage containers are one of the biggest offenders. Companies would have you believe you need every sized option possible; whether or not you need to save a drop or a pot full of soup. One of the lessons I learned when I was younger and working in a restaurant kitchen is that professional kitchens pretty much have 1 size of container, and store a lot of food in bags. This saves a ton of space. If you have a drawer full of different sized containers that you have to swim through like a playroom ball pit every time you need to find the right sized lid, don’t worry, you aren’t alone.  But it might be time to rethink your approach.  It’s an investment, but recycling your old mismatched containers for a set that uses 1 lid size, with only a few (if any) sizes will free up a lot of storage space in your kitchen and generally make your entire cooking experience easier.

Prioritize Storage For Commonly Used Items

This one is an easy one. Put a sticker, piece of tape, or permanent marker mark on all the food items you currently have in your pantry. Set a reminder for yourself on your phone for 30 days later. When the alarm goes off, look in your pantry and see how many items have gone unused. If you’re like most people, the majority of the products in your pantry have probably gone untouched. While grocery shopping habits are evolving quickly as many people move to grocery or meal-kit delivery, many of us still have a lot of things in our pantry that are old or go unused for a long time. The next time you’re grocery shopping, try to purchase what you need, not what you see. This will ensure that the products taking up space in your kitchen are actually of value. Its probably time to get rid of that 6 month old box of lasagna noodles.

Prioritize Empty Counter Space

Small appliances can quickly and easily consume your available countertop space, which can be frustrating when you’re trying to cook. Your time is limited enough in the day.  If you’re trying to get a meal ready quickly,  you don’t want to start off the whole experience by spending 5 minutes shuffling’s things around trying to find space to actually prep your meal. Think critically about the small appliances you actually need and use regularly. There are literally hundreds of small appliances. If there is an option for one that does multiple functions, go with that one. And don’t get tricked into thinking you need a separate appliance for every way of cooking.  Another trick from professional kitchens; a cooktop, oven and a standard set of pans and bakeware are more then enough for 90% of what you’ll make.  If you are a coffee aficionado, think about the way you typically make coffee and keep those other machines in the cupboard.

A Path to Success

These three simple exercises will set you down a path of success on your journey to making your current or future kitchen more efficient and beautiful. But it is only the first step.  Sticking with them and forming new habits will be the key to your success.

More Design Tips

There are a lot more topics in the kitchen that we can cover to help you on your kitchen design journey.

Join us at one of our Kitchen Condo Design Workshops at the Tridel Design Studio or learn more in our design driven Home + Magazine.

Jim Stoops

Director, Design Services

Jim believes in ignoring the rules and creating spaces that are personal and tailored to the client.  His design style leans toward layered, saturated spaces with an identifiable history. His pro-tip: In small, open concept spaces, make the kitchen as seamless and integrated as possible.