How often do you have to stop work in the kitchen to make room for your spouse, kids or guests to squeeze by to get a drink or to warm up a snack? An increasingly popular solution for such traffic and organization problems is to design specialized stations into a new kitchen layout.
A beverage station, for example, or a supplemental food-prep area with small appliances, can drastically improve a kitchen’s functionality, advises Dianna Wyatt, a designer for Markraft Cabinets in Wilmington.
“It’s a common complaint,” she says. “People are squeezing into the kitchen while you’re trying to work,” on their way to the refrigerator, sink or microwave.
With carefully positioned stations, however, “People can come in and come out, quickly and easily,” without interfering with the central work spaces.
For example, a beverage station would include everything associated with getting a drink, such as a coffee maker, wine glasses, cocktail accessories, maybe even a drink cooler and a bar sink. Positioned at the kitchen’s edge, rather than the center, this lets anyone in the household get their drinks “without a big ordeal for the cook,” Wyatt explained.
Families that spend a lot of time in an outdoor space like a deck or patio might position the beverage station close to an exterior door, so freshening up those drinks takes just a couple of steps into the house.
A similar idea is to create a secondary work area, easily accessible from the home’s other living spaces, to hold small appliances like a microwave oven and toaster. This can be especially useful for children and teens, who are often in and out to get themselves an after-school snack or to reheat something while waiting for dinner. It’s a good way to help kids be more self-sufficient, Wyatt suggests.
These kinds of specialized work stations don’t require elaborate infrastructure. Usually just a few carefully positioned electrical outlets are sufficient. Imaginative use of both counter space and cabinets can help make these areas both efficient and attractive.
Glass-front cabinets, for instance, might showcase attractive glassware in a beverage station, even if most of your cabinetry has solid doors that hide more mundane storage spaces. Various roll-up or tilt-up door styles can make a good-looking yet functional “appliance garage,” keeping frequently used gadgets in easy reach but out of sight until they’re needed.
Positioning a specialized station usually takes some planning as part of a kitchen redesign, Wyatt advises. An existing kitchen layout may not lend itself to these traffic-management strategies. Mapping out the best locations, and anticipating optimal traffic patterns, is something an experienced kitchen designer can help with.
Careful planning “is a way to help force yourself to be organized,” she says. Assigning designated spots for related items is something best done when the kitchen is a sketch on paper. The process pays off later, of course, when everything is logically arranged, easy to find and convenient to use.
You can get ideas about how to incorporate a specialized station into your dream kitchen by browsing through the sample layouts in Markraft’s Design Center. It’s open, with professional designers on hand, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, at 2705 Castle Creek Lane,
just off Castle Hayne Road.
Photos in this articles by Millie Holloman Photography
Since 1985, Markraft has specialized in cabinet and countertop design and installation in residential and commercial construction and custom remodeling. To learn more about Markraft, go to www.markraft.com. Contact Markraft at 910.762.1986 and like Markraft on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarkraftCabinets.