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Cooking areas in modern homes are no longer cubbyholes filled with smoke and soot

Open Kitchens Are Trending

Modern kitchens have become fluid spaces that wish to be seamlessly joined with living rooms.

With property prices climbing quickly, it is no surprise that spacious houses are increasingly giving way to studio apartments. In this upheaval of sorts, rooms are shifting shapes and re-aligning their boundaries. The one trend that has risen from this flux and made us look up with great delight is that of the ‘Open Kitchen’.

Cooking areas in modern homes are no longer cubbyholes filled with smoke and soot, but neither are they required to be aloof ensconces cut off from the rest of the rooms. In fact, the space revolution is breaking down all cumbersome walls, and merging the living rooms and the kitchens. The divisions between may be glass, retractable, or completely absent.

Open Kitchens have become a legitimate trend, and with homes shrinking and innovative designs expanding, this trend seems like it is here to stay.

While creating an open kitchen – be it single-walled or L-shaped -modular cabinets are the favourite storage choices. They are hyper-efficient at their primary job, and along with chic new kitchenware, can double up as statement pieces as well.

Kitchens have long been experimenting with different types of surfaces. The ‘K7 Kitchen Island’ launched by the Austrian wooden furniture firm, Team 7, is a good example of this change. Wood, stainless steel and Corian surfaces abound today, and the ubiquitous granite counter-tops are fading into the sunlight. Great looks aside, these new surfaces are also more durable, and have greater heat and cold resistance. They also cut down maintenance costs and time, making them highly compatible to fast-paced nuclear family homes.

The greatest, most obvious advantage of having an open kitchen is the fluid, contiguous scheme of room arrangement it helps establish within the home. Cooking, serving, eating, entertaining, socialising, and so much more becomes one happy amalgamation instead of compartmentalised activities. Families bond over food, so breaking down walls around cooking is almost a romantic idea. And, if you have a sumptuously decked, glamourous kitchen, then an open scheme becomes all the more tempting to lay out inside your home.

Like every aspect of home design though, it makes sense to match the trend with your personality. For many cooks, peace and privacy is essential, so for them an open kitchen would be a troublesome idea. Open cooking zones would also mean that the messes, spills, smells, aromas, fumes, and smokes of the process will get greater space to waft and leak into. And, if you like cleaning up after a meal in private, and can’t imagine a dirty kitchen to be in full public view, it is advisable to keep the walls around your kitchen up and solid.

An open kitchen would also mean lesser wall space for storage, so interior designers and architects will need to fill the gaps with discreet enclosures and multi-purpose units on or within existing walls.

Overall, the drawbacks needn’t be too distracting. There are few things about a kitchen that a good chimney, an exhaust apparatus, and a smart organisation system cannot solve.

Alternate Smart Kitchen Layouts

If the open kitchen plan doesn’t work here are some layouts that make the cut. When renovating your cooking section, start with deciding the most convenient kitchen layout for your family and entertaining needs. The layout can set and alter the tone of your kitchen, making it more social or private, or even a smart mix of both. A good kitchen layout can transform the interactions you have with your family. Here is a lowdown of the most prevalent kitchen layouts available across the world. One of them could be your dream kitchen layout.

Gallery Design

This traditional kitchen layout is used extensively in commercial kitchens, where people work in long, narrow passages between multiple appliances and kitchen surfaces. It is easier to multi-task here, but of course, the scope for socialising is limited. To overcome this limitation, designers often resort to the opening up this gallery from one or even both ends. But the fun is in the limitation itself; this layout is perfect for the hyper busy kitchen, where preparations are concocted, assembled, and rolled out like at a food factory.  A kitchen like this would be a good idea if your home is committed to high-end cooking.

U-shaped

This is an extension of the gallery kitchen layout, where the kitchen surface joins two parallel surfaces at one end. This layout can be broad or narrow, depending on how many people you want to let in. Many open kitchens nowadays employ this layout because it is efficient and provides for a lot of storage space.

Single-walled

This kitchen layout offers just one wall to hold all the amenities needed for cooking – be it the stove, or refrigerator – as well as all the storage. So to fit it all in requires judicious use of space, and consistent organisation. Usually, the basic amenities are fit into a wall, while the storage does spill over to nearby cabinets. But that is perfectly acceptable, as long as you do not employ another wall. Single-walled kitchens fit well in houses with space constraints, like in a studio apartment, where one wall in the living room doubles up as a kitchen.

L-shaped

These are the most commonly found kitchen layouts, because they are movement-friendly and offer ample storage possibilities. Everything in an L-shaped kitchen is within the reach of an average hand, and it also leaves enough spaces for people to interact in. L-shaped kitchens fit well with an attached dining arrangement as well. What is more, such kitchens also have the storage capacity that can fulfil the demands of an Indian kitchen.

Island

An ‘island’ is an isolated surface that pops up in the middle of a kitchen. It offers a table-top to keep appliances and kitchen items, or just becomes a make-shift dining table within the kitchen. Islands go well with all kinds of layouts, except the gallery one because of space constrains. While setting up an island, space is of key concern, so consider it only if you are sure movement wouldn’t be obstructed. But if you have ample space available, then an island can add a fabulous dose of elegance or even colourful whimsy in your kitchen, while also making small meals and small talk more fun.

Alert: Get an In-sink Dishwasher

Traditional dishwashers are impractical for space-crunched Indian homes. But compact and multi-purpose in-sink dishwashers may change all that.

Twenty years ago, India was just waking up to a new way of washing clothes. It took another decade for the mechanised washing of kitchen utensils to come into its own. Manufacturers of dishwashers had to bend over backwards to convince Indian consumers, used to the grime and effort of scrubbing used vessels by hand, of the hygiene and dependability of a dishwasher.

The dishwasher revolution has been a slow moving one, with even middle-class Indian homes still averse to it. But in high-end kitchens, it is fast-becoming a must-have accessory. Modern modular kitchens even come with a built-in space for dishwashers.

One of the reasons for the dishwasher’s slow ascent in India is space constraint. Homes in metropolises are shrinking, and trying their best to make the most of available space. In this scheme, a bulky dishwasher may appear to be an impractical addition.

But things are about to turn around. Some rather intuitive technological innovations have created a very amicable solution for the space-crunched kitchen – in-sink dishwashers.

As the name suggests, an in-sink dishwasher fits just beside the sink. The door of this dishwasher opens upwards. When closed, this door can be used as a chopping board. The greatest advantage, aside from space-saving, of using an in-sink dishwasher is the maximum usage of the wet area around the sink. With this, the washing and cleaning of dirty dishes can get compartmentalised to one area, preventing unsightly spills and drains.

Moreover, in-sink dishwashers come in compact sizes and are a viable option for even small kitchens that cannot house the traditional dishwashers. These newbies are space-efficient, easy-to-use and convenient, even if their compact size may at times demand 2 rounds of washing instead of just one.

In-sink dishwashers have been making a big splash in the international kitchen appliance market, with their size appealing to even singleton homes and bachelor pads. In India, the concept has found limited and exclusionary appeal, though a wider acceptance may happen soon.

By Latika Payak

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