Floor plans that really work for today's kitchens.
We're asking more of kitchens in the '90s. The utilitarian space where we zap Thursday's take-out dinner for 2 must also work for staging Saturday's gourmet feast for 20. With most parents now working outside the home, on-the-go families need to be able to share cooking responsibilities and to clean up after meals with a minimum of fuss. And because at the end of the day everyone gravitates to the kitchen, the setting must be a comfortable one where people can unwind and work together easily. In short, we want our kitchens to function like laboratories but feel like living rooms-a tall order. While kitchens have grown bigger to accommodate multiple cooks, cleanup partners, and guest seating (not to mention more appliances and specialized storage), the primary work triangle has generally remained compact. As Ellen Cheever of the National Kitchen and Bath Association says, "It's not that the triangle is outmoded. It just needs to be made more flexible by adding independent work areas and secondary appliances outside its boundaries." Beyond the triangle, greater flexibility With the development of separate wall ovens, rotisseries, toaster ovens, and microwaves, cooking was the first function to break FEBRUARY 1991 free of the triangle. Adding a second sink can also take pressure off the main work area. The way each family lives, who does what, how much they entertain, and the constraints of the original floor plan help determine the location of the second sink and which satellite appliances are grouped around it. The examples on the next six pages show the new geometry of kitchen floor plans. In each case, a green tone indicates the basic work triangle, red marks the independent work area around the second sink, and yellow locates the dining and sitting areas where family and guests can sit and chat with the cooks. Friendly to multiple cooks, Ruthe and Ken Coleman's Southern California beach-house kitchen suits casual entertaining of three generations. The plan revolves around a chopping-block island. High-capacity appliances make the plan work even better. The cooking center is a six-burner gas cooktop and grill. A step away, preparation takes place at the island, which has its own small sink and a handy position between the refrigerator and a pantry (right of cooktop). The island also politely keeps visitors out of the cooking area by offering stools on the opposite side. A double-basin sink in the greenhouse window is the cleanup center, flanked by a trash compactor and a dishwasher. One cook can work between these sinks and two large wall ovens (one a microwave combination) without interfering with a second cook working between island sink and cooktop. Mrs. Coleman's baking center is at the window end of the island. Here, a food mixer pulls out of a cupboard and swings up to counter height. The Colemans chose a refrigerator and freezer for heavy use. A residential-scale version of a restaurant model, the refrigerator easily holds whole turkeys, soft-drink cases, big appetizer platters, and the like. Glass doors let you see what you're looking for before opening a door. Similarly, glass-front cabinets let guests spy dishes or glasses they need without a lot of poking around. Since a peninsula counter is all that divides the kitchen from a living-dining area, the Colemans chose materials compatible with the rest of the open-plan house. Pine cabinetry was sandblasted, then whitewashed and spray-lacquered. Countertops are gray light-weight concrete finished with sealer. Throughout the house, floors are Saltillo tiles; the Colemans whitewashed unglazed tiles and finished them with six coats of sealer. Architects: Scott Coleman, Santa Fe, and Rick Colman, Redondo Beach, California. The best vantage point in Micki Schneider and Ron Silzer's remodeled farmhouse in Vida, Oregon, is in the kitchen. In the original house, this space was the living room. But as new owners, they decided to give this prime spot to the room where their gang-friends and a large blended family-spend most of their indoor time. The fir-lined room measures 20 by 20 feet; at one end, it opens to informal living and dining areas. Unusually generous undercounter storage and a small pantry free the walls for windows to bring in views of the McKenzie River. A big island sits in the middle of the kitchen; traffic flows easily between it and the work counters that wrap the room. A sink set into the island completes the basic work triangle. This is a co-op kitchen, with a place for everyone: someone can be rolling out dough on a marble slab near the range; another person can be cleaning the day's fish catch; someone else can be rinsing berries. But because the main work triangle is tight, this kitchen can also contract, working efficiently for one or two cooks. At the far end of the kitchen, a built-in window seat is perfect for taking a break. Architects: Thallon/Edrington, Eugene, Oregon. At the end of the workday, Carla and Brad Buchanan like to catch up with their children while preparing the evening meal. Their kitchen-in-the-round (at right) is zoned for multiple tasks so cooks can move around freely while enjoying views outdoors and of children's activities in the adjacent family room. The primary sink, equipped with instant hot water and a garbage disposal, is flanked by generous counters; a dishwasher is to the right of the sink. At the end of the counter, sleek tambour doors hide a mixer and other small appliances. The wall oven and microwave are directly opposite the second sink. Work areas around the island's second sink and four-burner gas cooktop (with combination griddle-grill and downdraft hood) are smaller. Because Mr. Buchanan generally helps with salads and fresh fruit and vegetable preparation, the second sink also has a disposal as well as a tall spout for filling large pots. The kitchen is open at both ends so the sous-chef and cleanup crew can come and go without invading the head chef's triangle. Granite accents among fine-grained terra-cotta tile on the countertops match a granite slab that serves as a dining ledge and hides any mealtime clutter from view. Architect: Elida Schujman, Mill Valley, California. The remodel of this 1929 kitchen, for more efficient family use as well as large-scale business entertaining, required minimal structural change. Borrowing 2 feet from a porch gained enough space to add an island in the center of the main work triangle. The island also provides some of the extensive counter space needed when cooking for a crowd. Running parallel to the island is a four-burner gas cooktop with combination griddle-grill. Beneath is an oven large enough to hold restaurant-size pans. Two wall ovens-a microwave-convection one, and a warming oven-are to the left of a three-basin main sink and drain board. A trash compactor is on one side of the sink, a dishwasher on the other. A second sink-a 12-inch round model with instant hot-water tap and garbage disposal-is at the foot of the back stairs, where youngsters can get water without entering the main kitchen. Three new pairs of casement windows brighten the room. New white-painted cabinetry bears original, replated hardware. For heavy use, the owners chose nonskid vinyl floor tiles-they don't show dogs' toenail marks, and running children don't slip-and granite counters. The tin ceiling satisfies one owner's nostalgia for the old-fashioned buildings of her Minnesota childhood ("A room should give you some reason to look up," she says). Designer: Sheryl McKinsey, Los Angeles. Putting a second sink opposite the basic work triangle created two triangles in Anita and Leonard Schwartzman's kitchen in Brentwood, California. When a meal is just for the two of them, the main triangle of the kitchen works fine. A section of the granite counter juts out into the room at a 45' angle, providing a cozy dining area as well. But for times when the owners feel like a cooking adventure, there are in essence two separate kitchens, sharing a common cooktop (each cook gets two burners), ovens (each gets one), and a refrigerator. For space-consuming tasks such as canning, storage and counter space abound. The kitchen really shines when the Schwartzmans entertain. The angled dining counter provides extra preparation area, and two doors-one by each sink-lead to the adjacent dining room, making serving and clearing dishes easy. The main food-preparation area and a sink counter are near one of the doors; the second sink counter, also incorporating a dishwasher and trash compactor, adjoins the other portal. The Schwartzmans could serve and clear a 14-course dinner here and never bump into each other. Architect: Kenneth David Lee, Encino, California.
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|Title Annotation:||Good-by to the Old Work Triangle|
|Date:||Feb 1, 1991|
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