If you are about to embark on a kitchen remodeling project, think one word: Zones. “Have dedicated zones within your kitchen for food preparation, cooking, clean up, and storage will set you up for success in your new kitchen,” says Jennifer LeMarr, a Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer with Shenandoah Cabinetry.
We’ve got some tips for how to optimize your design, based on the work you do in each zone.
Food Prep Zone
Most of your work in the kitchen is food preparation, such as chopping, rinsing, measuring, mixing, grating, grabbing ingredients from the pantry or fridge, opening cans, and transferring mixtures from prep bowls to cookware. It’s a hardworking space, so it should work hard for you.
What you need in a good prep work zone: Your prep zone needs ample countertop work surface, easy access to a sink (preferably one with a garbage disposal) and a refrigerator.
You’ll also want to be able to quickly grab items such as cutting boards, knives, utensils, mixing bowls, and spices. With Shenandoah, there are multiple ways to incorporate clever storage with pull-outs and functional elements inside of drawers and cupboards.
Pro-tip: Just how much workspace do you need? The National Kitchen & Bath Association recommends that you have a minimum countertop surface of 36” wide by 24” deep for food preparation.
Your cooking work zone is where you heat, stir, saute, and bake your food. It’s primarily your cooktop area, but you may also have a secondary cooking zone, with a wall oven and microwave.
What you need in a good cooking zone: You need suitable countertop space around your cooking zone, so that you have a place to put ingredients, as well as a place to sit any hot containers. You want your pots, pans, and skillets within easy reach, and well organized. After all, there’s nothing worse than having to bend down and root through a cluttered cabinet, looking for just the right stockpot.
Pro-tip: Design a prep sink near the cooking zone so you are not carrying large pots of water across the kitchen.
Clean Up Zone
Your clean up zone is where you tidy up after meals, using the primary sink and the dishwasher.
What you need in a good clean up zone: Besides the obvious placement of the dishwasher next to the sink, you also want a convenient area for waste, recycling items and cleaning products. Locating your trash and recycling bins within the clean up zone makes it easier to clean up after meals from one central location.
Pro-tip: Use a sink base multi-storage shelf to store cleaning products. It keeps them off your countertop and within easy reach.
Think about where you store most of your food. Ideally, you want all of your food storage clustered together around the refrigerator.
What you need in a good storage zone: The central feature of this zone is often the refrigerator. Designing your space so that you have a countertop surface next to or across from your refrigerator comes in handy when you need a place to set grocery bags to unload and sort food into the appropriate storage areas.
Pro-tip: Frame your refrigerator with cabinets for storing dry food.