DESIGNING MULTI FUNCTIONAL KITCHENS FOR EVERY GENERATION
November 14, 2023
In the realm of contemporary living, the heart of the home has evolved into more than just the cooking space - it's become a multi-functional hub where cooking, dining, relaxing and working seamlessly intertwine. Welcome to the era of multi-functional kitchens where the design is not just about aesthetics but about catering to the diverse needs of different generations under one roof.
The cornerstone of multi-functional kitchen design lies in understanding the end-users. In a multi-generational context, the requirements of a child, an able bodied adult or an elderly person will all be very different. Accessibility is a major factor so that the kitchen can cater for the needs of able bodied adults, but also those who may have specific physical needs. If, for example, the space must cater for the elderly or those with accessibility issues, then consider heights of worksurfaces (which can be lowered and raised in line with the user), how the oven opens and works (look at a door that slides into the unit), where the dishwasher and sink are situated and their ease of access and how the refrigeration is addressed, so all users can reach it easily. If small children are the centre of the household, safety issues need to be addressed.
When planning the layout, the functions of the kitchen must be carefully examined – such as, who cooks and how do they cook; prep space – does this need to be large or small; do you entertain – formally or informally; is relaxation space desired and is the space large or small and does it want to be open plan or more closed in.
The more thorough the planning of a multi-functional kitchen design, the better the design. Every area from the hob to the home working space must be thought through and located so there is a harmonious blend of work and leisure within the same space.
Good kitchen designs ensure that everything has its designated space, which won’t overlap with another function but will flow from one to another. Users must be able to work together easily in a kitchen without feeling closed in. Less able or elderly users may require flexible heights for worksurfaces, cabinets and sinks and side opening dishwashers. Lighting can also be a key consideration as older people may require stronger lighting in food prep areas.
Modern appliances are designed not just for efficiency but also with safety features catering to different age groups. For example, pull out racks in ovens can be stabilised to prevent accidents, while induction hobs, which only heat the pan when it is on it, reduces the risk of burns especially in houses with children.
Small work zones can be fitted in between tall wall units, or on breakfast bars. Remember to include plenty sockets, with USB ports for devices. Certain Corian worktops can even have an integrated phone charger where the phone only needs to lie on the surface to be re-charged – an excellent solution for those who use their phone frequently.
When designing seating consider banquette seating which is a versatile solution for a multi-functional, multi-generational kitchen, as during the day the area can be used for kids’ homework or informal get togethers, but in the evening is transformed into a dining table. When attached to an island, banquette seating provides a connection to the rest of the kitchen and is a good ‘link’ between cooking and living.
In conclusion, the modern kitchen is a reflection of our diverse lifestyles and a well-designed multi-functional kitchen can accommodate the needs of every generation under one roof. It's not just a space; It's a living breathing hub that adapts to the ebb and flow of daily life, making the true heart of the home.