You can rate the complexity of kitchen remodeling projects as much as you rank the heat of hot peppers, from mild to intense. Wherever your project falls, it should yield a work space that offers increased efficiency. Whether you reorganize the room's basic setup, upgrade appliance functionality or combine the two in a major redesign, focus on basic needs to ensure that your efforts and expense improve on the workflow and cooking performance of your previous layout.
Locating the three C's of your kitchen—cleaning, cooking and cold storage—within a meaningful distance of one another can make the room an efficient work space. These three functions should form a triangular arrangement among your sink, range and refrigerator. Added together, the distance between these spots should be less than 26 feet, with individual legs of the triangle less than 9 to 10 feet in length. Avoid walkways and interruptions, including islands or peninsulas, that break the flow of these critical pathways. If your remodeling plan accommodates more than three work areas, you can modify the basic triangle to fit in more than one cook or more than one instance of any of the three C's.
Energy and Efficiency
Give your current appliances an energy and efficiency checkup before you allow them to stay in your new kitchen layout. An old refrigerator may not offer you the cooling space you need in the layout you want. Look for side-by-side and French door models with innovative flexibility that make better use of storage capacity. Refrigerator and dishwasher insulation and technologies have reduced energy use substantially in the last decade. Look for appliances that are ENERGY STAR qualified to help reduce energy costs. Cooking technologies can enhance your food preparation options with convection baking and range-top induction that heats food through magnetic energy instead of a hot appliance surface.
Maximizing the amount of countertop space in your remodeled layout gives you more room for food preparation. To free up work room, add cabinet space so you can move small appliances off the counter. Choosing an over-the-range microwave oven relieves you of one big obstruction and coordinates two cooking functions in easy reach of one another. Because over-the-range microwaves typically incorporate ventilation capabilities to clear out range-top vapors and heat, a microwave upgrade can help keep your kitchen cool and clean. Look for a model that includes more than one ventilation mode, including venting capabilities that connect to the back or the top of the appliance to aid integration with ductwork and exterior vents.
You can save energy and reduce the heat produced by kitchen lighting if you switch from incandescents, halogen or fluorescent lamps to LED light sources. Even without installing new light fixtures, you can replace existing bulbs with compatible LED lamps that fit the same sockets. Look for LED lighting built in to appliances, including the range-top illumination provided from the bottom of an over-the-range microwave oven. To upgrade the light level in your kitchen, add LED lighting tape to under-cabinet edges, brightening up work surfaces.
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