Time for your kitchen
Updated: May 27
I read somewhere that the average person spends three years of his or her life in a kitchen. That statistic doesn't, as far as I know, break down the time into cooking, washing up, drinking wine, having arguments or cleaning. I would have thought it would be longer, but maybe I've just got the stat wrong! Regardless, I think it's safe to say that it's quite a long time.
As any chef worth his (or her) salt will tell you, a kitchen is a working tool and it has to work properly, so if time can be saved by having, say, appliances and utensils positioned conveniently and safely to the main prep areas then that's really important. Time saved means more time available.
Just as the layout of a professional kitchen is devoted to creating the most time-efficient work space, the layout of your own kitchen should major on functionality, not only on style.
All well and good - but where do you start when you want to create your own 'Dream Kitchen' (do people really dream about kitchens)?? Planning a kitchen so that it looks fabulous, impresses your friends and allows you to create the perfect souffle can be a daunting task. Imagining how everything will work given the space available is mind-boggling.
The bogglingness becomes greater if the space doesn't even exist - for example in a renovation where walls are being removed or rebuilt. Where do appliances fit and will they be convenient for the working areas? Where do doors into the room open; who and when will people be passing through the room; will people be using the kitchen as a private bar; where will the wine be kept (and the glasses)? Every detail needs careful thought and priorities arranged.
In Portugal we also need to think carefully about how we cook and where we eat. Many of us will spend a lot of time dining 'al-fresco' and so we may well need to integrate outdoor dining into our kitchen planning. (More on outdoor kitchens on a later Blog). Incidentally, I am told that Italians use the expression 'al-fresco' when referring to time spent in jail. Language is a funny thing!
Efficiency in food preparation, cooking, storage (of both food and cookware), washing and cleaning are key elements to any kitchen design of course. To enhance efficiency it's a good idea to 'zone' the working areas. This 'zoning' of areas within the kitchen really does work and this is exactly how a professional kitchen layout is designed. So, if it works for Heston, Gordon and Jamie, it will work for you too. Hob, fridge and sink are the three focal points, which is perfectly logical if you think about it. This is the well-known 'Working Triangle'. Some designers will add an oven(s) into the equation but I think the hob is more important. For me, I like to cook close to my sink and have the fridge within easy reach. When I use an oven, I prepare the food, open the oven and pop the food in. It's then on its own for an hour or whatever, so I don't need it to be close to hand all the time.
For many of us these days open-plan living, especially with an indoor/outdoor element, is incredibly popular. The kitchen has long been the heart of the home but now that heart is open to view. So, we are now designing kitchens for a grander space allowing for dining and general living too. This brings me back to zoning and how important it is to get the kitchen layout just right since the kitchen may have to live side-by-side with lots of other activities going on around it, as well as in it.
Because our kitchen is open to view we want it to look good and this is where we start to explore design style. This is the exciting stuff. Here we look at colours and textures, different materials and different products and we can think about all the 'what ifs' that will eventually create the room which has been stirring the imagination.
OK - kitchen design? Is it a 'go-it-alone' job or do you need help? Without experience and at least some knowledge of how a kitchen fits together it will be hard. You can try to find a local kitchen supplier or retailer with whom you can discuss your ideas - if your Portuguese is up to it. And, if you have your heart set on a special 'look' for your kitchen you might not be able to find that locally. But hey, doing it yourself might be cheaper! If you are happy with an average supermarket type kitchen and if everything works and the installation fits like a glove then that's great. However, it's not going to be easy, so do consider your options carefully.
The easiest option of course is to call on a kitchen/interior designer and tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience on offer. Super ideas, innovation in design and creativity are all there for you. Help with materials and colours and all the challenging choices is right on hand. And the best bit - the design work is absolutely free if you use Kitchens in Portugal.