“An island is essential in a kitchen for two adults who like to cook,” says Anthony Barnes of DC’s Barnes Vanze Architects. “One person can be working at the sink or stove and the other set off at the end of the island,” he says. Barnes warns against peninsulas, though: “Someone gets trapped in a corner. Avoid dead ends.”
Islands should be 36 to 42 inches wide, Barnes adds. “It enables you to lean across and hand your kid a plate, or have people around eating appetizers.”
Islands are good spots for prep sinks, which are small and shallow. Some people use these sinks solely for vegetables and fruit, a good hygiene policy. They should have a disposal, storage below, outlets, and task lighting. After a party, you can do all the crystal glasses there, safely away from the other cook washing pots and pans.
If you don’t have space for an island, a galley kitchen is the next-best layout. “Too much space between counters is a bad thing,” says Barnes. It can force you to take too many steps between work stations and can invite people to congregate in the chef’s way. He recommends 42 inches, though the standard is 48.
To begin remodeling a kitchen for two cooks, a designer or architect needs to know who likes to do what. If one person is much taller than the other, you can vary surface heights. If space allows, it’s great to have a second fridge and dishwasher away from the main ones so that two people can work at the same time. If one of the cooks is a baker, consider making space for a baking center, with at least a three-foot marble pastry counter plus storage for equipment and ingredients.
Room for Kids
If you’re renovating to accommodate a growing family, the first thing to think about is the layout. Consider placing the range in the deepest part of the back of the kitchen, away from the table and places where kids congregate.
Microwave placement is another safety issue. You don’t want kids to have to climb on a chair to get food out of the microwave or reach over the hot stove when the popcorn is ready.
If your kitchen is large enough, you might want to double up on some appliances. You may not have to run to the grocery store as often if you have two refrigerators or one regular fridge and a drawer fridge for drinks and snacks; place the second fridge away from the main cooking area. If you have two sinks, one can be the centerpiece of a cleanup zone, with a second fridge and dishwasher and a high-arc faucet with sprayer.
Families with growing children should opt for non-skid floors and choose a non-porous counter material, such as quartz or soapstone, to withstand the inevitable spills.
Built-in banquettes are a good idea in any kitchen but work especially well for families with children. The inside of the benches can serve as storage for kids’ homework, art, and backpacks if you don’t have a mud room or the space to create one.
“Don’t design the space very specifically for a certain age range,” Millholland says. “Kids grow up. Highchairs become backpacks, then sports equipment. Good design is good design: Clear circulation, good lighting, adequate food-preparation space, the correct placement of appliances, and storage, storage, storage all make a functional kitchen your family will never outgrow.”