Part Two – Breaking the Kitchen Down

by Geoffrey Butler, AIA

So what is an adequate kitchen? Size does not mean much. An adequate kitchen is one that works and works well. When we plan commercial kitchens we understand this. We work with the functions and the flow. We also have very critical health codes to comply with and those same codes need to be considered in your kitchen.


Every kitchen has separate functions which need to be addressed. There are food preparation and cooking areas. There are the food serving and plating areas. There are the cleanup areas. Finally, there are the support spaces which include food storage, pots/pans and utensils, dishes and silverware.

The food preparation and cooking areas allow you to prepare all the ingredients necessary to cook, and then to actually cook them. You need cutting board space and room for the ingredients to be laid out in the sequence that you intend to use them. You need the cooking areas – range, oven, microwave and the outdoor grille nearby.

You need to have a place for the food waste, empty containers and other trash. As you slice and dice that excess food debris, wrapping and packaging has to get gone. This now poses a new problem – recycling. We want to separate the plastics, glass, paper and food waste (for your compost outside). In days long gone, garbage was garbage. Now, we need three large recycling bins and a food scrap tub. That takes some space.

The refrigerator and freezer also need to be by the cooking area as well as near the serving area. The size of refrigerators and freezers has grown quite a bit. We all seem to have an extra old refrigerator and freezer in the garage for overflow, and, of course, beer/bottled water/juice drinks. That is in addition to the huge three foot upright freezer with its companion three foot refrigeration with the ice/water dispenser and the built in computer and Swiss Army knife.

Supporting the prep cooking area you need clean cooking utensils – pot racks, silverware drawers, utensil drawers, etc. These have to be easily accessible. Then, there are the small appliances that we have added to our kitchens since the fifties. They have created a problem – blenders, food processors, small fryers, crock pots, coffee makers and toasters. They all take up counter or cabinet space (if they can fit into a cabinet). We now need a place to store them until they are needed.

The pantry is something that was a common element in days past, but in the modern era went away. Don’t know why. Someone needs to investigate this. You have to store food, perishable and non perishable items. You have to deal with spices, condiments, packaged foods and basic food staples (flour, sugar, coffee, brown sugar, pasta, etc.). This all has to be close by so you can get to it, but cannot be in the way. Bottom line – in today’s kitchen, the pantry is making a comeback. It needs to be well planned, nearby and fairly large.

As part of the food preparation process you have the plating and serving side. How do you serve your meals mostly? Remember those big old pieces of furniture in your grandmother’s house? They called them buffets. They were for serving. They usually held all of the serving utensils for a meal. Over time, these beasts evolved to hold the fine china (there was often a companion piece called a China Cabinet), silverware, serving dishes, etc. So, they were there but they were full of dinnerware we never use. Buffy and I still have our fine china from our wedding. Don’t use it much. Maybe we use it once or twice a year. Of course, our lifestyles have changed and now, we never use the formal dining room or these practical pieces of furniture. We cook and serve in the kitchen and often eat in the kitchen of an annex nearby. Everything we use everyday is in the kitchen, even if there was no logical place to keep it.

The pictures included in this blog are of my own kitchen that Buffy and I designed.