Six ‘P’s of designing kitchen space

In what is perhaps the first of its kind in India, award-winning kitchen designer GOPAL DWIVEDI has recently published ‘Modular Kitchen Planning & Designing Guide’ in English at his own expense. Presently Assistant Vice-President with Livspace, Gopal has more than 15 years’ experience in the Indian kitchen industry with Hettich, H&R Johnson, Hindware and Sleek International. WoodNews presents an exclusive excerpt from the 240-page handbook (Rs. 999, paperback), which is generously illustrated with technical drawings (electrical, plumbing, ventilation and lighting), and extensive specification sheets and planning checklists.

Kitchen design is highly professional work, and it has lots of dimensions to work on. We are here presenting the steps which help in designing an adequate kitchen space and perfect solution for the user. Each of these steps is sequential and needs user input in a structured format.

Multiple selection possibilities in each step to choose from each step make each kitchen different from others. An experienced designer gives importance to each of these steps and derives the final solution.

Understanding purpose

Everyone does not order a modular kitchen or home interior for the same purpose. The various purposes can: personal use, rental property, holiday home, office pantry, open kitchen, etc. When the purpose is not the same, the proposal also cannot remain the same.

If a designer does not understand the real purpose (or need) for the kitchen, a seemingly perfect solution may not fit in well. For example, if someone is looking for a modular kitchen in a recently bought apartment, there can be two purposes: to use it for his/her own need or to rent out the flat.

The moment the purpose changes, the overall kitchen design will also have to change. If the apartment is being given out on rent, it will not remain a personalised product designed as per the user’s persona. It will be a commonly used design that can do for any type of user.

This one factor even changes everything, from the selection of raw material to size of kitchen cabinets to the budget. This is because a kitchen designed for personal use is highly focused on the user’s persona, his/her storage need, choice of finish and colour and work comfort.

The whole design consulting will focus on understanding the need, habits and personality of the user to make a kitchen suitable. Even other family members, social involvement, current trends, etc. are considered during the whole concept creation. Most of the time people use their best budget for a personal kitchen.

A kitchen made for a home to give on rent has completely different characteristics. All of a sudden the designer is expected to make a kitchen for a user which is unknown and can change over time. The demand for design is ‘made for mass’.

Now the design will aim to have minimum requirements for a functional kitchen with a well-balanced design theme. The customer expects a kitchen with a smaller budget, but with sturdy and long-lasting material and hardware.

A kitchen that will be used rarely – or less frequently, such as in a holiday home – is mostly a very minimal and functional kitchen. The user focuses less on aesthetics and storage, but more on the quality of material and maintenance-free hardware, within an average budget range.

The holiday home is itself not frequently used, so the overall selection must be done considering no need for daily care, and the kitchen must be functional at short notice whenever required.

Understanding space

Several factors need to be known and validated before starting any placement. Site visit and status, and accurate measurement of all dimensions (with the help of a site checklist) are the most useful inputs in this step.

The overall size of the kitchen is the base of any design. In the absence of required width or length, a specific shape cannot be achieved.

Shape is the one most important input for planning and designing. The use of a corner, the possibility of an island, or the addition of a breakfast table are some decisions that depend on the shape of the kitchen.

Design must also take into consideration if a kitchen is a renovation project or a brand new one. During renovation the existing counter can limit the possibilities to achieve a specific design, or may increase the need for customisation in the whole project.

The position of water inlets and outlets, electrical switches and gas pipe connection need detailed attention while planning and designing. Relocating these inlets, outlets and points can be challenging and also increase the scope, timeline and cost of the kitchen.

Any kind of projection, undulation or level difference in the wall and floor can cause alignment problems. These elements can also affect the overall aesthetics. The colour and texture of the wall also play a major role in the overall design of the kitchen.

Both the horizontal surfaces (flooring and ceiling) need to be considered in overall design planning. Wooden flooring may not be suitable for the modern kitchen; and a POP false ceiling can be challenging while planning for the loft in the kitchen.

The location, size of the door and its opening direction, the position and height of the window from the floor, are also very important inputs for designing workflow and overall ergonomics of the kitchen. The size of the aisle is an important input to determine the cabinet door opening and appliances landing.

Zone placement

Once the size and shape inputs are clear to the designer, the next important step in kitchen design is to do the ‘Placement’ of the core ingredients of the kitchen. As we know, the whole kitchen design is placed around three major working zones:

Wet (faucet and sink), Hot (stove and oven) and Cold (refrigerator).

After that, the remaining space must be planned for storage – and dining, if possible – in the same room.

The sink placement is mostly pre-allocated by the builder in the case of apartments. This position is dictated by the position of existing inlets and outlets which no one wants to move as a first preference because it involves a lot of civil work and increases project time and cost.

But if someone wants to change the sink location or construct from scratch, one should consider sufficient space between other activity zones in the kitchen and try to incorporate a scientific work flow and food flow.

Once the wet zone is fixed, applying the rule of kitchen ergonomics one can easily get some positions to decide the correct location of cooking. The preparation space and recommended distance from the sink play a major role in this decision.

Ventilation and source of light must also be considered before making the decision about the most active and creative zone in the kitchen.

So far as personalisation goes, the kitchen designer (and manufacturer) must know the working hand preference (left or right hand) of the user and then make sure of keeping sufficient space accordingly.

Generally the cold zone is positioned near the entry to the kitchen, unless there is a space crunch. The fridge is rightly positioned near the entry as this zone is also used by other people in the family not participating in cooking. But make sure to know the refrigerator brand and door opening angle, and leave adequate space to open the fridge door.

After decision on these three zones have been finalised, the remaining space in the kitchen can be planned for other activities such as storage units, sitting space and placement of the oven, microwave and/or dishwasher.

A small activity or work-from-home table in the kitchen, or additional utility unit are some decision can be taken easily once the core zones are decided.

More inside

The descriptions of kitchen shapes and designs are based on advanced ergonomic principles, which include positioning of door, windows and appliances; space utilisation and seating with safety and accessibility in mind; and even special designs for the elderly and wheelchair users… A must read for all architects and interior designers.

For kitchen manufacturers, the author dwells at length on panel manufacturing and cutting, lamination and lacquering, drilling and routing, edge banding and other factory operations.

There are chapters on the design, construction and finishing of carcass, cabinets and other storage units; the use of architectural and functional hardware; and components and accessories for customisation.

Apart from addressing the usual pain points – oil, moisture, stains, dust and infestation – there are tips on kitchen care, cleaning, maintenance and safety.

Another important input to the industry comes in the form of customer consultation and profiling. This involves measuring the user’s needs, understanding his/her cooking and social habits, and building in flexibility for modular re-organisation or expansion to meets the needs of the future.

This compendium of knowledge comes with forewords by Snehal Vasani (Kitchen Grace), Saurabh Jain (Livspace) and architects Ahana Miller and Pratap Jadhav.

It comes recommended by industry experts such as Nadeem Patni (Blum-India), Anil Goel (Hettich-India), Rajesh Ahuja (Saviesa Home), Kirit Joshi (Spacewood), Santosh Saldanha (Indoline), Nitin Nalavade (Nitshaw), Juergen Wolf (Hafele India), Srikant Iyer (Homelane) and Rahul Mehta (FFSC).

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