Our relationship with our homes is continually evolving. There was a time when the kitchen was hidden away thought only to serve the purpose of food prep, certainly not meant to be on display, let alone a place for guests to mingle with their hosts. Slowly the kitchen moved from dark back corners, to a more practical off the dining room location. Then as our family dynamics and relationships changed from the be seen but not heard of the 40s and 50s to the now always watchful and at least attempted engagement of us contemporary parents so too did our relationship with our kitchen once again morph. We want connectedness in our lives and the removal of walls and visual barriers in our home is a physical representation of that want.

The kitchen is now the hub where the engaged hosts and watchful parent alike can be busy with the business of food prep while not missing out on the conversations of the day. This is a trend, as with most that is born from an emotional necessity. The key to success from a design perspective is to anticipate the downfalls and implement solutions. Here are my top five open concept kitchen problems, solved.

1.    Visual clutter on the Counters – I make a point of planning a place in advance for all the larger items like small appliances and microwaves. Consider putting the microwave below the counter for ease in access by the littler family members while keeping it out of sight.

2.    Open kitchens mean unwanted visitors under foot– Add a drink fridge on the outside edges of the kitchen.  This allows both little ones and guests to grab a drink without getting in the way of the chef.  Adding pre-dinner nibbles here like cheese and grapes along with juice boxes allows them to fulfill their own hungry requests.

3.    Fewer upper cabinets – Open kitchens look best when there is a nice amount of negative space.  Planning in a healthy size pantry cabinet easily replaces a full run of traditional upper cabinets and offers a more streamlined look

4.    A utilitarian look kills the cozy in adjacent spaces – Opt for integrated appliances and warm natural materials like wood and stone that allows a glance from the family room to be less of a reminder the broccoli is starting to smell. If you can’t see the work, you’re less likely to be tormented by it.

5.    Paperwork and homework start to accumulate – The open kitchen means more of the daily functions will migrate in and inevitably be left on the counter.  Plan ahead and add cabinets on the outside of the kitchen designated as homework supplies, magazines and household bills.  Allocating a place will help condition the team to pop things away instead of leaving it to be dealt with later.

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