What you need to think about when designing different types of space
There are a set of general principles that apply when designing rooms and spaces of all types, many of which were outlined in the previous module. A designer will tend to manage a project in the same way, whether they are working on a kitchen, an office, a set of rooms and so on. However, various types of spaces are used in different ways and for different purposes. The activities typically conducted in a space will play a role in determining its layout and the materials to be used. For example, tiling is generally not favoured as a floor material in bedrooms, but it is easily cleaned and water-resistant, making tiles a common choice for bathrooms. In this module, we will look at the questions a designer will ask when putting together a design for a particular type of space.
Special considerations that apply when designing kitchens
“The kitchen is the heart of the home” is a cliché for a reason. Kitchens are often high-traffic areas and their design needs to accommodate regular use. Another problem comes in the form of appliances – because a kitchen usually includes a stove, a fridge, a set of counter units, a dishwasher, a microwave and other pieces of equipment, pulling together a coherent look can be challenging. A designer must establish early on what equipment a client will require in their kitchen, how often they intend to use it and how much space they will need when preparing food. The answers to these questions will depend on the client’s lifestyle. For example, a couple who love to entertain their friends and family at home will probably be more concerned with food preparation space than a single parent with a young child.
Whatever the client’s specific requirements, almost any kitchen will need to be designed with three “zones” in mind – a washing zone (the sink), the preparation zone (the refrigerator and counters) and the cooking zone (centred around the oven). Designers need to think not only about the aesthetics of a kitchen, but also address potential safety concerns. For example, cooking entails working with heat, so it is not a good idea to position appliances in such a way that everyone entering the room has to walk directly in front of the stove. Other practical considerations involve ventilation – some kind of system for eliminating smoke and odours will be required and appropriate waste receptacles will also need to be included in the plan. Again, this warrants in-depth thinking regarding the ways in which people will actually use the kitchen in day to day life. It is conventional, for example, to position a bin within a cupboard close to the sink, so that food waste can be removed from dishes before they are placed in a dishwasher or sink.
There are several commonly-used layouts that designers use as inspiration when designing a kitchen. In small spaces, or when a simple design is called for, a single-walled kitchen is appropriate. This consists of one “strip” of appliances and preparation spaces arranged so that utility and convenience is paramount. There should be sufficient counter space on either side of the sink and the stove, so that people can prepare and cook food in safety and comfort. It is usual to place the refrigerator at one end of the strip, as it is not necessary to reserve space to either side.
Fact: Every year, approximately 1.5 million ovens are sold to consumers in the UK.
A popular kitchen layout in small homes is referred to as a “galley kitchen”. This entails two strips of appliances and preparation spaces, at least three feet apart, running along opposite walls. One side is normally reserved as a preparation area, consisting of countertops and space for a fridge. The other is devoted to cooking and washing, with a sink and stove separated by countertops. Because there is typically very little space for more than one person to move around the room, a galley design is not advisable if the kitchen links two rooms together.
Another option is a U-shaped or L-shaped kitchen, which employs three or two walls respectively. These layouts are appropriate for most medium and large spaces. Sometimes part of the countertop can be designated as an eating area.
Finally, island kitchens are another option, if ample space is available. This entails placing a freestanding counter – the “island” - a few feet away from the main kitchen appliances and counters. Surface materials are another key consideration. The materials selected will depend upon both the client’s budget and the style of cooking they prefer. For example, marble is a good choice for kitchen surfaces if those using it will make pastry on a regular basis, because it will keep the ingredients cool.
 Grimley, C., & Love, M. (2013). The Interior Design Reference & Specification Book. Beverly, MA: Rockport.