Creating a functional kitchen for an active family requires a lot of planning. Here are some ideas for putting together an all-purpose space for cooking, entertaining and dining for your growing, on-the-go family.
Rather than a traditional kitchen and separate living room, consider the popular open concept design. This gives you a multi-functional environment where family members can watch television, cook, study, converse and entertain all within the same area. Kids can do homework at the table while parents cook and monitor from the large kitchen island. You can entertain your guests in a comfortable setting that doesn't require you to leave the area to manage snacks and drinks.
Organization is Key
Maximizing organization is the key to a great kitchen for a busy family. Consider a small kitchen work station if space allows. This is a great place to have a docking or power station for everyone’s devices. This is also a great spot for your “kitchen command centre,” or area devoted to keeping track of your family’s schedule, appointments, mail, to do lists etc. Include a calendar, bulletin board, somewhere to keep mail and keys and this will streamline your busy mornings by keeping everyone on track.
An active household can mean a lot of rushing around. You need a home that is designed with your kids in mind. Avoid the sharp corners famous in traditional kitchens. If you have small children, countertops and tables and such should be rounded. Wall sockets should either be behind appliances or out of reach of the little ones. Consider a kid-friendly finish for your flooring. Ceramic tile isn’t the most forgiving surface if someone has a fall.
Add a Chalkboard
You can buy a small chalkboard and hang it in the kitchen or create one by choosing a feature wall and using chalkboard paint. Be creative with it - make a colourful board that matches your kitchen’s style, or put it in an antique frame. Make the board large enough to write something fun such as the “menu” for dinner that night. It’s also an excellent place to put an inspirational quote, or an important message that you don't want anyone to miss!
Build to Last
The wear and tear and stains that come with an active household are inevitable. They will become memories of your family history, but there are ways you can try to minimize them! Choose durable and easy to clean surfaces. Man-made materials such as laminate and quartz are great for countertops as they tend to be less porous and resist stains better. They vary in price and come in a huge range of colours and patterns so you will easily be able to find something you love.
Make it You!
A lot of modern kitchens are decorated in neutral tones with stainless steel appliances, single coloured cabinets and subtle back splashes. That’s perfectly fine if that’s what you love, but this the chance for you to make this room reflect your family, after all, the kitchen is the heart of the home.
If you like bright sunny colours and interesting designs, go for it! Or if you prefer, keep your kitchen in calming colours with clean lines so it is a soothing place to be. You are going to spend a lot of time in your kitchen make sure it reflects you and what style you like.
Consider the Little Ones
There are lots of options for accommodating your children when it comes to your kitchen. Having a section of cabinets and countertop space lower in height allows your mini chefs easy access to the things they need. You can also add a kid-sized table and stools just for them so they have a work station too.
Designate lower drawers or specific cupboards just for the kids. You can store plastic plates, bowls and cups in them so your little helpers can access them as needed and maybe even help you set the table! You could also include a bin of healthy snacks that they are allowed to help themselves to.
Islands are fantastic kitchen features for busy families. A large, well placed island provides a spot for a parent to prep and serve meals from, and if it includes a sink then even clean up happens here. With an island and an open concept floor plan, Mom or Dad can keep an eye on the kids playing in the living room regardless of what kitchen tasks need to be tackled.
Kitchen islands also offer great storage with extra cabinets and drawers, and if you add a few bar stools across one side you have extra seating for when you are entertaining.
Leave Space if Possible
If you are fortunate enough to have a nice big area to work with, try and leave as much space as possible for moving around. For a busy family you want to create a functional and pleasant atmosphere where people can move around freely without stepping on each other.
If the design allows it, try to leave a good amount of room around the island or dining area. The open space will imply comfort and simplicity. There should be ample room wherever you place seating.
These ideas will give you a starting point for building the perfect kitchen for your active family. Make sure you take into consideration other factors like the size of your family and the square footage of your kitchen. The goal is to create a space you love, one that represents your family’s style and is efficiently designed so that it accommodates everyone.