Thursday 25 March 2010

Kitchen Design...

It's almost time to move into the new kitchen, up at Santa Caterina - a process I'm slightly dreading, but the result of which should be well worth the pain. A slight delay in the past few days, as we discovered that the new fridge which had bounced all the way across Europe in the company of the welsh slate was in fact five millimetres wider than advertised, which has meant demolishing and rebuilding one of the support walls for the counter tops, in order to fit everything in. Things could have been worse, I suppose; last time we did this, with the current kitchen, the stonemason blithely sliced ten centimetres off one of the slabs for the work surface, and we had to order a whole new piece all the way from Wales...
This is the fourth kitchen we've designed over the years, and from each one lessons have been learned and incorporated into the next version. Some very straightforward things, for example:
  • the advantages of having a deeper work surface than normal - generally, kitchens are designed with counters 60 cm deep, to match the depth of most under-counter appliances; in fact, if you have counters at 80 cm (or more) depth, it gives an enormous amount more space both to work on and to push things to one side which aren't immediately needed;
  • Make sure the work surface is at exactly the right height for your physique - for me, this is a couple of centimentres higher than in most kitchens; in my catering kitchen I had standard height work surfaces, and occasionally suffered from the most appalling back ache as a result
  • Don't put sinks in the corner of the room, as this makes them physically quite difficult to use;
  • Analyse exactly how you cook, so that the various storage units are in the optimal place for you, and you don't spend your life traipsing around the kitchen needlessly going backwards and forwards to get things - for me this means having a drawer under the hob with wooden spoons and spatulas, a chopping board on the work surface to the right, and immediately below that a drawer with knives, above a small fridge with things like milk and butter that I'm most likely to want to put straight into pans on the hob, and to the right again are stored all of the spices and seasonings I regularly use;
  • Again, think through how you work in practice, so that there are spaces available for putting hot cooking vessels when removed from either oven or hob; ditto spaces for plates, when serving;
  • Don't store pans in cupboards, where they're impossible to get at, but store them instead either suspended from hooks on the wall, or else on open shelves;
  • Incorporate appropriate storage space for all of things that generally, and needlessly, clutter work surfaces and get in the way - for instance, in the Italian kitchen, the food processor (along with all of the other electrical appliances) lives in a pull-out cupboard which has a socket within it, and so can be effectively used in situ; in the London kitchen, which is very small, the food processor is housed in a cantilevered cupboard and can be pulled down when needed, and then pushed up again out of the way afterwards (but this involves a system of counter-balance weights and wires which was one of the Technical Department's most successful brainwaves, and which I wouldn't advise you to do at home unless you have a degree in mechanical engineering!)
  • If you have the space, have a second dishwasher - if you only have one, sod's law says that it will always be full of unwashed things at just the wrong time!
Tonight's Dinner:

Papardelle with a sauce of Ragu and Rabbit Livers.

Bream, with braised Celery.

Apple Soufflé.

1 comment:

suej said...

Good luck with the move and thanks for the list of ideas for the kitchen. Our new one is going in next week and I've been wondering about where "stuff" will go. I like the idea of pans hanging near the stove. Please post lots of photos when you're in - sounds wonderful. Sue