Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Design Tips from the Kitchen Specialist

The Kitchen, I would say, is one of the most busiest places in the house. There are so many activities going around there for each member of the family - the mom prepares food and cooks, the kids grab their snacks and beverages from the refrigerator, the dad prepares a midnight snack on the kitchen table, the helper stores the freshly bought food from the grocery and sometimes, the family gathers in the kitchen to have an informal meal.

With all of these activities in mind, wouldn't you agree that the Kitchen should be a top priority in terms of efficient design, ensuring smooth traffic flow, ample lighting, accessibility, safety and promoting proper hygiene? So for those who are planning on building or renovating their Kitchen today or in the near future, it would be wise to always get sound advice or better yet, get the professional services of a Kitchen Specialist.

Margarita Montiel-Encela, founder and owner of MMKitchen Cabinetry, has been in the business of Kitchens and Cabinets for more than twelve years already. She started as an in-house Designer for Canadian Kitchen Company, with whom she worked for seven years. Being a consistent sales performer in Canadian Kitchen, a friend asked Margarita to design and renovate an aunt's kitchen, knowing the expertise of Margarita in the kitchen business. And because of the success of that project, other opportunities started coming in which urged Margarita to quit her job and finally start up her own company, MMKitchen Cabinetry.

With a track record like that, I would definitely say that Margarita has earned the right to be a Kitchen Design Specialist. Being an interior designer and an entrepreneur has helped her handle both aspects of the business. Proof of that is the number of clients that she has done over the years, which can attest to her professionalism and quality of work. Get to know more about her as I share here the following excerpt of my interview with Margarita Montiel-Encela, where she shares tips in designing kitchens.

DMuse: What is your first consideration in planning and designing the lay-out of the Kitchen?

MME: My first consideration when planning a kitchen's layout is the client's lifestyle. I normally ask them the ways in which they currently use their kitchen and activities they commonly do in the area.

For example, do they they entertain frequently? How much seating do they need to accommodate family members? Do they do a lot of cooking? Do their kids like to help? Who else spends time in the kitchen? After we've determined how they want to use their kitchen, what features they want in it and the budget, we develop solutions around these factors.

Another consideration when designing a kitchen is to choose a layout that fits the space requirements and needs. Most of the time, the client's kitchen layout has already been drafted by the architect especially if it's a newly constructed house or undergoing major renovation. In space planning a kitchen, there are several shapes and combinations that can be considered:

L-Shaped Kitchen – This is the most popular design, appropriate for any size kitchen. The L-shaped kitchen is made up of two walls (or legs) and gives the possibility of having a center island depending on the available space. In general, this design will have 2 or 3 appliances on one wall with the refrigerator typically at one end, the range or cooktop at the other end with the sink located in the middle. This shape of kitchen generally provides good traffic flow.

U-Shaped Kitchen – This design features three walls, with the sink usually located in the middle wall section. The refrigerator and range or cooktop are typically on the side walls opposite each other. The U-shaped kitchen design allows for ample countertop space and cabinetry, and creates a very efficient work triangle. Using skylights, large windows, under-cabinet task lighting and light colors will help keep the kitchen bright.

G-Shaped/Peninsula Kitchen – This type of kitchen shape is becoming very popular, as it gives you a fourth wall or peninsula to use. It is usually not suitable for a very small kitchen because there may not be room for the fourth leg. The G-shape is especially nice if you have more than one cook in the house. The fourth wall section can be used for extra counter space, a cleanup zone, a cooktop, or added seating.

Galley Kitchen – Often called the corridor style, the galley kitchen design is more common in apartments or in smaller homes. Cabinets and appliances can be located on opposite walls for easy work flow. Placing the range or cooktop on one side of the kitchen along one wall and the refrigerator and sink on the opposite wall also allows better flow.

Single-Wall Kitchen – If there is very little space for anything but a single-wall kitchen, the sink is usually placed between the refrigerator and the stove for added efficiency. It is beneficial to locate the refrigerator so that the door opens away from the kitchen sink. This is a very common layout for small kitchens with narrow spaces.

However, recently open floor plans have become more popular in new and remodeled home. It reflects today's more informal living patterns. They typically open the kitchen to adjoining spaces such as family or great rooms, entertainment areas, or expanded dining areas. While not for everybody or every home, they can multiply living space, integrate those working in the kitchen with on-going family activities, and enhance informal entertainment.

Whichever layout is chosen, it’s important to also follow the basic “work triangle” method in kitchen design. The work triangle consists of imaginary lines that connect the refrigerator, the range, and the sink. 

DMuse: When it comes to materials, which materials would you recommend?

MME: With regards to choosing the best materials to use for the kitchen, the counter and cabinets should be made of materials and finishes that require very little maintenance and cleaning. Generally a natural stone like polished granite or synthetic granite is ideal for the Kitchen counter. Laminated or wooden cabinets with PU coating are easy to maintain too.

DMuse: Do you have any other tips to share? Or maybe some do's and don'ts in designing a kitchen?

MME: If small children are a consideration, install countertops with rounded corners to prevent painful bumps and bruises.

Microwave ovens, foods and dishes can be positioned at a lower level where less reaching is required. 

An island or peninsula is a great way to combine informal dining with ample storage space. Or investing in a rolling island to increase storage and work space can be beneficial.

Hanging a pendant lamp over the breakfast nook or table to make a focal point that provides task lighting.

With so many people coming and going, it is also good to consider an entryway area or “drop zone” for things like keys, mail, backpacks and purses. There are a number of family-friendly accessories to help you customize your kitchen space.

Upholster chairs with washable fabrics or slipcovers for those eventual spills.

If possible, the gas tank should be kept outside the house where it is well ventilated, so that any leaks will not cause an explosion within the kitchen.

It is advisable to have lighting under the overhead cabinet to light up the counter.

Sunlight contains UV rays which act as a germicide in killing the germs. So sunlight should be allowed to flood the kitchen.

The Kitchen should be well ventilated to get rid of the food odors, gas, fumes etc.There should be a good sized window in the kitchen to allow in fresh air.

The Window should not be located behind the stove as the flames can be affected by the wind and be exposed to dust. The window sill should be at least 6″ above the counter top.

It is advisable not to have a wall cabinet above the stove, as it will get damaged by the fumes. Instead it is better to have a chimney hood above the stove.

Food items, utensils, cutlery etc can be stored close to the work center where they need to be used.

L-shaped Kitchen

A bar in the Kitchen is always a charmer.

Island counter with a built-in cook top.

A minimalist kitchen design has clean lines and smooth work surfaces.

MMKitchen Cabinetry can also design and fabricate entertainment units,
wardrobes, vanities and t&b cabinets.

If you wish to know more about MMKitchen Cabinetry, you can visit their website at http://mmkitchencabinetry.com.ph You can also contact Margarita Montiel-Encela at:

MMKitchen Cabinetry
Tel: 890.1407 / 576.8180
19 G-H Avida West Tower 1 Malugay Street
San Antonio Village, Makati City

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