An efficient, masterful cook needs an organized and equally efficient kitchen. Tile colors, countertop materials, cabinet styles and energy-saving LED lighting can transform a kitchen's aesthetics. To best serve your meal preparation needs, your kitchen should adhere to basic principles of design. Part math, part logic, part common sense, these principles establish the fundamental flow of the room and set it up for ease of use.
Anything that blocks your path between the three most important work areas—the range, refrigerator and sink—hinders your efficiency. Incorporating an island or peninsula increases countertop space and storage, but if it intersects with the work triangle, it eventually becomes more of an interruption than an improvement. The legs of the work triangle needn't be equal in length. In total, they shouldn't exceed 26 feet, or your trek from one station to another becomes overly long. If you've increased the square footage of your kitchen by folding in the space formerly devoted to a mud room or breakfast nook, check your geometry to assure that the work triangle remains workable.
Along with the basic triangular path among work areas, you need functionally organized stations to associate tools with the appliances and processes they serve. When you store your pasta maker and lasagna pan in the same vertical plane—cupboard above and cabinet below the counter beside your range—you save steps and streamline the process of preparing a family favorite. Put your induction-friendly pans together on an eye-level shelf, also next to the range, so you don't need a magnet to differentiate ferrous-metal utensils from aluminum pans that require an induction disc to work on top of your range. Organize your cleaning products too; for example, place your dishwasher detergent next to the appliance itself.
When you're considering new appliances, evaluate their fit into your kitchen as well as their features. Refrigerators vary in size depending on their style, including French-door, side-by-side and bottom-freezer models. Before you fall in love with the capabilities of a particular model, check the widths of its open doors or drawers to verify that you can use the appliance without blocking access to pathways or other rooms.
Trading a countertop microwave for an over-the-range model frees up several square feet of work space and adds a built-in range hood for ventilation through ductwork above your cabinets. If your dishwasher installs across from an island workstation, verify that the door can swing open and clear both the island itself and a person loading the dishwasher.
Your appliances can augment your cooking prowess with digital control surfaces that provide access to scheduling and inventory software, offer Wi-Fi enabled search capabilities to look for recipes or research ingredients, and accept precise temperature settings. Along with ice and water through the freezer door, your refrigerator can dispense carbonated water on demand, expanding your stock of drink ingredients. Specialized temperature-controlled refrigerator drawers hold dishes at ingredient-appropriate cooling levels. Entering a baking or roasting temperature on your range through a digital touch pad enables you to specify and change heat levels down to the degree.
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