Considerations For the Open-Layout Kitchen in Your Home
In my experience, the first thing a client does is to relay the design intent or the aesthetic of the kitchen they have in mind and to understand the overall flow and specific functions the kitchen must possess. The types of clients we attract are usually very design forward (the people who knows design) and clients who are in need to create their dream kitchen. They send us photos or pegs from kitchens they see in magazines, websites or even actual ones they see when from travel. Although knowing if a client wants a very modern or a traditional kitchen is important during the conceptual phase, the most vital part of kitchen design is the layout. Many things have to be considered when setting this up since the lifestyle and culture of the Filipino household are different compared to those in the West. The kitchen triangle is no longer something we generally take a look at given that each client is very different when it comes to their requirements and kitchen use. It is designed for a single user, which is rarely the case in our family-oriented homes.
The Open Layout
An open kitchen layout means that the kitchen is visible to the other parts of the home, typically the dining room and the living room, and occasionally the terrace, lanai, and sometimes even from the second or higher floors of the house. This layout creates a sense of inclusivity between the hosts and the guests. When the host cooks and prepares food, they reveal their process and share the experience of cooking and preparing meals with the guests – it’s like baring one’s soul. Although it seems that kitchen design may be simple and straightforward – or as simple as removing a wall between two rooms, it also poses some challenges when it comes to function and design. Here are few things to consider:
1.) Cooking Location
Typically, in this particular setup, the stove is placed in the kitchen island as it simulates a
show kitchen where people can watch the host or chef cook. But it is essential to consider placing the stove against a wall, especially if the cooking appliance will be a gas hob, so that the fumes and smoke can easily be extracted and it won’t create an unpleasant smoky smell for the users and guests.
With the ceilings being very high, it would also allow for the ceiling’s design to be clean without
any obstructions of a range hood jutting out of the ceiling. Alternatively, if cooking on the island
is still preferred, it is necessary to use an induction cooktop and a downdraft hood. This could
be a good option only if the cooking is limited to light cooking, and also if there is a lower level
or basement to vent the smoke properly.
2.) Baking Area
For those who love to bake, ideally its perfect to create a baking zone where the ovens will be placed on
tower units installed at chest level so that the users will not have to bend down when
using the oven. Normally, clients now pair convection ovens with built-in microwave ovens or
steam ovens, creating an appliance section that is grouped together not only for looks but
also for function. What’s important is that counter or table space should be nearby so that the
food can be placed on it before and after it is placed in the oven.
3.) Washing Zones
In order to segregate the activities, I recommend having a number of washing zones. The first
and most important one is the big sink, which will be used to wash dishes and pots. The
question here is always about the number of bowls. I would recommend two large bowls that
can accommodate bigger cookware. This way, there is ample space to properly wash the
items. It is best to locate the dishwasher either to the right or left of the sink
base cabinet, depending on if the user is right handed or left handed. This way, after rinsing the
plates, they can easily be placed in the dishwasher.
A bar sink, which is normally a smaller sized bowl, either a circular one or a square shape could be placed on the kitchen island. This sink can be used to wash more delicate items like wine glasses. When the kitchen is not in use, it can also be used for hand washing. Another nice application would be to use it for washing vegetables or fruits. This way, it’s far from the dirty dishes.
4.) Cooling Zones
The location of the refrigerator and freezer is a vital component of the open layout. Whether it is
free standing and exposed or built in and integrated into the cabinets, one thing to note is that
most refrigerator doors open more than 90 degrees, and so the positioning of these cooling
appliances needs enough clearance to ensure full function and accessibility. As the open layout
naturally invites human interaction, plenty of homes include a wine cooler, and in some cases,
we design an entire bar area designated for the drinks and spirits to be shared and enjoyed.
5.) The Kitchen Island
The island primarily serves as the “bridge” or connector where the cooking, washing, and cooling zones all make use of the island counter space as a temporary loading and unloading dock to fulfill whichever kitchen activity is being done. Furthermore, this also naturally becomes the social zone, as seating stools along the island make it perfect for enjoying casual meals together as a family or with guests, and a welcoming hangout area where you can chat while someone is cooking or have a night cap for the more memorable conversations.
Altogether, since kitchens now employ the open layout, people spend more and more time entertaining, hanging out, and dining in the kitchen. Planning the configuration for your cooking, baking, and washing zones are very important to achieve a systematic flow. Properly situating the cooling zones in a location that is easily accessible to the guests should also be considered. And finally, with a kitchen island that not only serves its purpose but is also design-oriented, it would also set your kitchen apart from the rest.
Notes about the writer
Brian Hontiveros is one of the founders of Modularity Home, the exclusive Philippine distributor of premium Italian home brands. — Scavolini, Italy’s biggest kitchen manufacturer; Valcucine, reigning in the most upscale and luxurious category of kitchens worldwide; Pianca, industry leader in wardrobes, closet & entertainment systems; and Elica, a specialized brand for rangehoods and appliances.
Established over a decade ago, Modularity Home focuses its core on cabinetry and living systems that began with kitchens, the heart of the home. From its start in 2010, the company has expanded into bathrooms, bedrooms, wardrobe and entertainment systems utilizing valuable elements that inject soul into each space in the home. With the brands they carry, they continue to preserve their indelible vision of providing synergized life spaces matched with exemplary service so families can enjoy a timeless experience of function and beauty at home.