A determined cook can find a way to make a meal in any kitchen. But cramped spaces, hard to access cabinets, and other frustrations can all make the process less than enjoyable.
Better functionality is one of the most beneficial results of a kitchen upgrade. The homeowner can transform the room into a more social area, improve its storage potential, and make it much easier to get dinner ready.
The kitchen work triangle—which includes the refrigerator, stove, and sink at its three points—has been used in kitchen design since the 1940s. This concept aims to keep each location easily accessible during meal preparation, but can also create a tighter workspace. Newer kitchens can still create a kitchen work triangle, but update it to account for modern trends and appliances.
“For a long time, it was kind of an equilateral triangle,” says Courtney Smith, office manager at Rogers Kitchens in Norwich. “Now it’s more relaxed.”
The refrigerator’s location is often a key factor in determining the kitchen layout. It is best to keep the stove on the opposite side of the room from the refrigerator, since this arrangement allows more people to comfortably use the room at the same time. The sink is typically located beneath a window; its location does not often change due to the benefits of using existing plumbing and gazing outside while doing the dishes.
Kitchens today are more likely to be social gathering places, with families and guests spending a lot of time in the room. The installation of islands and peninsulas not only provides additional storage space and counter area, but can also incorporate seating space. Kids can do homework and guests can congregate around snack platters while meal preparation is underway.
“The island almost makes a natural wall barrier, where you’re still involved in the conversation but you’re not in the way,” says Smith.
Inadequate storage space often hampers a kitchen’s usability. Stock cabinets only come in specific sizes, and will leave a great deal of wasted space after they are installed. Deep base cabinets can be so inaccessible that you almost need to climb into them to retrieve a pot or pan. Smith says her clients often report finding items that they hadn’t seen for years because they were shoved to the back of a cabinet.
Custom cabinets can be designed to fit into small or unusual spaces. Narrow areas, such as the space alongside a stove or refrigerator, can still be sufficient for storing items like cookie sheets or installing a pull-out spice rack. Lazy Susans are used in corner cabinets to open up a significant amount of storage capacity in this often unused area. Smith says Rogers Kitchens often installs cabinets over the refrigerator that are the depth of the appliance and able to be reached more easily.
Other cabinets are designed to hold certain kitchen features to free up more space to move around or prepare meals. Built-in trash and recycling cans near the sink allow food waste to be disposed of more easily.
Reinforced pop-up mixer shelves will house kitchen mixers within a cabinet, allowing the appliance to be brought up to an accessible height. The cabinet still includes storage space at the bottom, and keeps the bulky mixer from taking up counter space.
An electrical outlet can also be installed in the cabinet so the mixer or other items stored there are ready for immediate use. Smith says older kitchens often have a lack of outlets, so renovations will always bring them up to the current kitchen standard of locating an outlet every 24 inches.
Several other creative solutions are available to open up more space. A pull-down knife rack located under a cabinet can be a substitute for a knife block kept on a counter. Smith says nearly every Rogers Kitchens renovation installs a microwave hood combination over the stove so the microwave is no longer on the counter.
Some properties have butler’s kitchens, but homeowners rarely use them because they are too small to comfortably prepare food. Smith says these spaces can be repurposed as pantries, laundry rooms, or half bathrooms.
For galley kitchens and other cramped spaces, removing a wall is often advisable. This creates an open floor plan which vastly improves the flow of the room.
“A lot of it depends on how big your space is, how big your budget is, and how much you cook,” says Smith.
Rogers Kitchens was founded by John and Jerry Rogers in 1955. James Smith, who had been working at the company since 1985, purchased the business in 1998.
Rogers Kitchens will design and install kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, closets, and more. A shop on site builds custom countertops and cabinets for any job.
The showroom at Rogers Kitchens includes five full kitchen displays as well as several partial displays. Visitors can peruse the available options and say hello to company mascot Blaze, a 12-year-old husky/lab mix.
Rogers Kitchens is located at 130 Chestnut Street in Norwich. For more information, call 860-886-0505 or visit rogerskitchens.com.