For families, kitchens really are the heart of the home. They’re a social space where parents can teach children healthy eating and ways to have fun with food; lessons for them to take into adulthood. However, this ideal image of a family kitchen does require work and planning to achieve and how you design your kitchen to be child-friendly isn’t always obvious.
Based in Sussex and working with families in Brighton, kitchen designers PD Kitchens have used their thirty years experience to come up with a checklist for kitchens where young children will live, learn and play. From looking at use of storage to layout, they can be useful whether you’re hoping to improve your current space or if you want a complete refit.
Above all, it’s important to remember that a family kitchen is always going to be chaotic at times but you can make it fit for purpose, saving you time and stress.
Food preparation and work surfaces
An open-plan design with one or two entrances is a good option if you have young children, designed to have enough space for a safe and comfortable sized food preparation area. Ideally an island works best at a height out of reach of children and separate from the main dining space. Surface materials should be easy to clean to keep away germs; one option is a matt surface. Fingerprints and smudges don’t show up as much on matt so will look cleaner. Textured stone also works well if you prefer the aesthetics of this finish.
Ultimately, you want to create a durable worktop or island that will stand the test of time. If you’re using it for food prep and want children to get involved, you can add work surfaces at different heights. These separate a kitchen with designated ‘child zones’, making it easier to manage their behaviour and keep an eye on them as you prepare meals. Easily cleaned surfaces have the added benefit of being suitable for homework tasks and arts and crafts.
Appliances and storage
Modern kitchens have become brilliant for easing the pressures of family life. A great tip is to ensure you have multiple and spare sockets so you’re free to invest in a range of appliances and can keep all of your gadgets
charged. Having an area for sockets is really useful; you can restrict access to ‘the phone zone’ at mealtimes to encourage face to face conversation and get quality time together. Whenever you think about an appliance, think how it can work better for your needs, such as a fast-cook oven or washer-dryers with a range of programmes.
If you have a lot of appliances and wires, you may also want a lot of storage to keep surfaces as clear as possible. Having deep, large cupboards means you can make the best use of your space, especially for baking equipment, bottles, sterilisers, baby bibs and anything else you might have purchased in bulk. Anything potentially dangerous, like kitchen knives and breakable crockery should be kept out of reach in drawers with child locks or cupboards which have a soft automatic close.
If you plan for your kitchen to be a social hub, you could even allocate a drawer for your child if they’re a bit older so they can safely get their own plastic cutlery and be more active and engaged in the food process. This could also work to save you some time!
Plan for the future
For every small decision that makes up your kitchen space, take some time to think about how you use it now and how you’ll use it with your growing and changing family. You’ll need a big enough fridge and oven if you plan to add to your family in the next couple of years, and also enough seats in the dining area. For example, will you all be able to take breakfast together before work and school?
Looking ahead it’s also worth going beyond just the practical and to think about the memories you want to cultivate. Add your personality into your kitchen with a bit of colour and even a chalkboard for play, menus and education.
Just like every room in your home, it’s important to take your little ones into account when you design your kitchen to make it a safe, friendly and fun environment.
This post was provided by PD Kitchens who plan, design and install kitchens and have worked with a number of families in Brighton to create perfect and practical spaces. 01403 732 259.