Kitchen and Dining

The kitchen and dining area are two complementary zones that have the power to define the personality of a home. While the kitchen fuels the activities of the residents, it is in the dining room that they get a chance to bond over food. Together, these two areas reinforce the concept of home and family living. In fact, it can be said that good kitchens feed happy families while healthy bonds are built around dining tables. Certain unique features and requirements define each of these areas and that’s why it becomes important to spend sufficient time in planning and designing our kitchens and dining areas.

Your Kitchen

With most of your meals prepared here, there’s obviously a large amount of cooking that takes place all day in the kitchen. From kitchen platforms and cabinets to ovens, stoves and cooking ranges, a wide variety of equipment, accessories, and furniture go into the making of a kitchen. Under the circumstances, it’s easy to understand the amount of heat, smoke and grease generated there. Hot, stuffy, and cramped kitchens can adversely impact the overall cooking experience, which in turn can end up affecting the quality of your cooking. A well-designed kitchen is one that’s properly equipped so that it’s comfortable, safe, feels roomy, and is a place where cooking becomes a pleasure.

Your Dining Room

Stepping out of the kitchen, probably, the one single place at home that we are likely to meet each other most often, is the dining room. Unlike the kitchen which is choc-a-bloc with a host of cooking paraphernalia, dining areas are relatively uncomplicated. A dining table set and a couple of display cabinets usually make up the basics of dining areas in most homes today. But with families spending more ‘together’ time here, it becomes necessary to spend adequate time and thought in planning the layout and designing the décor of your dining room. Planning your dining area is more about sticking to basics in terms of furniture while creating a harmonious environment.

The Changing Contours of Cooking and Dining

With every passing year, the growing limitations on space and budgets are influencing the way we design our homes. Separate kitchens and dining rooms are making way for kitchenettes that are designed for cooking and dining as well. In many a home, we can see the kitchen and dining areas being merged to create bonding zones where you can cook, eat and spend time indulging in your favorite pastimes such as chatting, watching television or listening to music. In fact, many modern dining areas are designed to be part-kitchen, part-dining room, and part-living room!

Whether it’s separate kitchen and dining areas or combined spaces, the fact remains that you still need to plan and design them for comfort, aesthetics, utility, and safety. Fortunately, a variety of interiors options, equipment and furniture are available for us to design our dream kitchen and dining areas. It depends upon factors such as the available space, the underlying concepts and the furniture you have in mind.

The Keys to the Perfect Kitchen

Organizing your kitchen can be a fairly simple proposition when you rely on a bevy of accessories and furniture items. These typically range from kitchen islands, kitchen organization, kitchen racks, chimneys and so on to a variety of utility pieces such as racks and baskets. If it’s all about optimizing on space in the kitchen, in the dining room the focus is more on achieving balance between utility and aesthetics. The furniture requirements in a dining zone usually range from dining table sets to display cases and bar stools. By conforming the layout within the physical spaces available, judiciously selecting furniture, accessories and equipment, and using the appropriate interiors materials and color combinations, you can transform your kitchen and dining spaces into fun zones that are functional, trendy and safe.

Getting your Kitchen Design Right

Irrespective of how big or small your kitchen is or whatever its shape, you need to design it right so that available space is used efficiently, movement is not hindered, and safety is assured. Of all the different kitchen layouts, there are six designs which are the most common.

As a functional unit, a well-designed kitchen is expected to make optimal use of available space. For instance, the more frequently used equipment and accessories must be stored conveniently at hand. In addition to space management, the kitchen must also consider flow aspects and factor it into the design. Flow assumes more significance in open-plan kitchens and places that have islands or multiple doorways.

The ideal kitchen layout is smartly designed for safety and comfort. It should smoothly steer visitors and children, away from potential danger spots such as stoves and ovens, towards relatively safer zones like the fridge or dining zone.

Most kitchens, on account of their basic square or slightly rectangular shapes, are ideal for implementing the ‘working triangle’ layout. As the name suggests, the main working areas of the kitchen – stove, fridge and sink are positioned at the three points of an imaginary triangle. The idea being to maintain equidistance between these three areas, to optimize effort. In kitchens that are ‘proper’ rectangles, the concept of working triangle is suitably tweaked by positioning the three major work areas parallelly along the same wall.

In the case of kitchens that are not in the regular square-rectangle shapes, you could apply the ‘zone’ principle which divides the work spaces into separate areas for specific tasks. This approach is suitable for L-shaped, T-shaped or curved kitchen spaces. In L and T-shaped layouts, each of the legs can be designated for a specific purpose such as cooking, washing, dining and so on. Often, the presence of structural pillars can pose an impediment to the layout or free movement in the kitchen. You could work your way around such hurdles by modifying them into kitchen islands or something similarly utilitarian. Where the walls are curved, cabinets that complement the wall contours can be considered. Advice from a seasoned kitchen designer can help you work wonders.

Not all kitchens are standard cubes or rectangles. Some are glass boxes with limited wall space, others have sloping ceilings, while you may also have tricky features to work around such as pillars or numerous entrance doors. An experienced kitchen designer will have come across all these sorts of problems before, so do ask them for advice.

Popular kitchen layouts

The Island kitchen

The island-like effect is brought about by a multifunctional platform dominating the kitchen center, and worktops lining the surrounding walls. This is a popular option for kitchens that have sufficient floor space. Depending on what you want to do, the island can be used for cooking, prep work or eating. Since it is in the center, the island can be easily accessed from all areas of the kitchen – cutting down on unnecessary legwork.

The U-shaped kitchen

This layout is ideal for medium-sized rooms that are rectangular or square in shape. With work platforms lining the walls on three adjoining sides of the wall, the overall effect is a U-shape. The central area is earmarked for cooking, while the sink and fridge are placed at the ends of the two flanking sides, completing the working triangle concept. Apart from the abundance of storage space it offers, this layout is popular for its functional convenience.

The L-shaped kitchen

It’s a basic layout that lends itself very well to working triangle concept. As the name indicates, it has a short and a long wall placed at a right angle to each other, together forming an L-shape. Worktops and cabinets line the two walls, with major work zones such as the cooker, fridge, and sink forming the three points of an imaginary triangle.

The Galley kitchen

Where space is a limitation, the galley kitchen layout can be a viable option. Taking a leaf out of the cramped spaces that ship kitchens are famous for, this layout is characterized by a single row of kitchen units. If you have more space to spare, you can extend the concept to the opposite wall as well, resulting in a double galley effect. The galley layout is practical in long, narrow rooms.

Using Light and Color Effectively in Your Kitchen

Lighting and color selection play a crucial role in setting the mood. This is even more true of the kitchen and dining areas where, right from walls and floors to cabinets and kitchen tops – colors and material should be selected with utmost care. Lighting, when used intelligently, can help reduce shadows and light up dark corners. Similarly, light and neutral color schemes are used to give a roomy, airy feel to smaller size kitchens. Professional designers opt for a judicious blend of light from natural and artificial sources. Remember, depending upon which way the room faces and the sun’s direction, colors and shades can change dramatically through the day. And when night sets in, the color scheme should not be jarring to the eye. The ideal mix is a combination of sunlight in daytimes and LED lights for the nights.

Getting Your Dining Room Design Right

The dining room is a place designed to hold more people for eating and bonding over food. In effect, there are three basic criteria that a well-designed dining room must satisfy – functionality, balance, and proper scale.

Ensure Your Dining Room’s Functionality

The basic purpose or function of a dining room is to make eating food an enjoyable experience. To ensure its functionality, the dining room design must make sure to place chair sufficiently far apart for diners don’t end up rubbing their elbows with their neighbors. Similarly, keep sufficient space for people to comfortably walk around without bumping into the furniture in the room. And finally, ensure that the rug on the floor is large enough to comfortably accommodate the table and chairs. If you have these three points in order, your dining room is ready for you and your guests!

Dining Room Visual Balance is important

A dining room is said to be visually balanced when the visual weight of elements on one side of the space, is equal to that of the elements placed on the opposite side. Balance in a dining room is usually achieved by placing furniture and elements of equal weight on both the main sides of the dining table. Secondly, if the room has a window, the opposite wall must have a picture element of similar visual weight.

Proper Scale is All in the Ideal Dining Room

Here, scale means the room’s design elements complement the interior design in terms of size and visual weight. In simple terms, it translates to bigger the room, larger the furniture and design elements. The rules are quite clear: do not clutter small dining spaces with big elements or lots of furniture OR do not leave large dining spaces threadbare.

Types of Dining Rooms

While there are various types of dining room layouts, dining rooms are classified under two broad categories – enclosed and open types of dining rooms.

The formal dining room, which is cordoned off from other rooms in the house, is an example of the closed type of dining room. It was popular a few decades ago but is slowly losing out with space and cost becoming progressively expensive. Today, the open type of dining area, where the kitchen, living and dining areas are merged into one seamless unit, is the norm across the spectrum.

Design Tips for Kitchens

Save space with small appliances – small no longer means cheap or lousy. You can save space by opting for trendy, combination appliances.

The humble sink can be a mighty space-saver – opt for smaller sized sink, preferably with a cover to convert it into a prep area at the drop of a pin.

A dash of marble can do wonders for your kitchen’s look - marble has been associated with class since the days of ancient Rome, and continues to allure today. By simply incorporating a marble slab in the kitchen top, you can virtually transform the personality of your kitchen.

Liven up your kitchen with some greenery – apart from creating visual relief, plants are a great way to keep air fresh and absorb kitchen smells.

Design Tips for Dining Rooms

Free up space with extendable tables – A dining table that can be customized for small and large groups, allowing you to free up space when you don’t have guests.

Avoid cluttering the room – Dining table, matching chairs, and probably a sideboard are all that you actually require in the dining room. Cramming all sorts of furniture and accessories in the room will only give it a stuffy feel.

Don’t pair small dining rooms and high-back chairs – If your dining room is not big on space, avoid dining table sets with high back chairs as these tend to further dwarf the room.

Get smart with the lights – Experiment with different types of lights to set the mood. You can create interesting mood ambiences by offsetting a focal point light with floor lighting.