Everyone knows that the kitchen is the undisputed heart of the home. A place where the entire family can come together to cook, bake, eat and enjoy one another’s company.
All well and good on paper, but the reality of the busy family kitchen doesn’t always reflect the dream.
On one hand, a well-designed kitchen can be the ultimate source of enjoyment and togetherness for the whole family. On the other, a poorly designed kitchen can be a source of nothing but stress, mess and chaos.
Of course, coming up with a concept for a kitchen the whole family will love is as much about personality as it is the ‘rules’ of good design. We all have our unique tastes and preferences, which should be expressed with pride.
Even so, adopting a strategic – i.e. thoughtfully family-friendly – approach to your kitchen’s design really could make all the difference. You can still put your own signature twist on things, but there are some elements of kitchen design that are far better suited to families than others. For example, sharp edges and stain showing cabinets are probably not idea for those with young children.
With this in mind, here are 10 essential pointers for creating a family-friendly kitchen the whole family will love:
Focus on what you need, then what you want
First up, it’s natural to let your imagination run wild when you are visualising your dream kitchen. As a major home improvement, you want to ensure that each and every aspect of it is up to your expectations. But when it comes to family-friendly kitchen design, the practicality should take precedence over presentation.
At least, in the sense that the most elaborately designed art-deco table and chairs might not be the best choice. Just like kitting your kitchen out with delicate antiques and unnecessary ornaments could make life more difficult than it needs to be.
The first step in designing your perfect family-friendly kitchen lies in thinking carefully about what you could incorporate to make your life easier. All the things you need, with as little superfluous detail as possible.
Once you have a clear plan of the practicalities, you can then go about choosing a design that will make your heart sing.
Make your kitchen easy to keep clean
From top to bottom, you’ll never regret choosing materials that are easy to keep clean and hygienic. Glossy tiles, specialist paint that repels stains, decorative splashbacks and so on – all great for minimising cleaning times.
The same can also be said for your choice of kitchen units and everything else, which ideally should be as easy to clean as possible. The simple fact of the matter being that avoiding mess and mayhem in a busy family kitchen is 100% impossible.
A great example of an easy to clean, yet stunning looking kitchen is shown in our matt acrylic kitchen units. There are plenty of colours to choose from, and they incorporate specialist anti-smudge and smear technology, making them an ideal choice for a family home.
You can’t avoid it, so you may as well plan for it, and lighten the load on yourself. Anything that’s difficult to clean or likely to succumb to stains should be left out of the picture entirely.
Add a Burst of Colour to your kitchen
Keeping things predominantly practical doesn’t have to result in a kitchen that’s devoid of personality. It simply means bringing your own personal touch into the space in subtle and strategic ways.
For example, brightening up a kitchen with bold cabinet doors can bring visual interest to your kitchen. As can adding coloured ceramic wall tiles, or perhaps creating your own custom mosaic. Bespoke splashbacks can also be customised in limitless ways, enabling you to bring something totally unique into the space.
When deciding on which colours to bring into your kitchen, get the kids involved and let them have their say. They’ll be far more likely to play an active role in what takes place in a kitchen they helped (or at least believe they helped) design.
Child-proof countertops and cabinet fronts
In this context, child-proof refers to any material (or combination thereof) that can withstand the kind of punishment kids dole out. Which is, as most families will know, quite aggressive to say the least.
Cabinet fronts should be selected in accordance with how easy they are to clean, her resistant they are to abrasion and how hygienic they can be kept with a quick wipe. With countertops, you need to acknowledge the fact that kids have a habit of being somewhat rough when it comes to their culinary activities.
Your countertops will inevitably be bashed and battered all over the place, once the kids get their hands on them. Select something attractive by all means, but ensure it has the durability to remain looking attractive long-term.
Making your kitchen child safe
Try as you might, keeping a constant watch over what your kids get up to in the kitchen is impossible. Something that becomes evident when you drop your guard for a second, enabling them to get up to all kinds of mischief.
Making all possible efforts to keep things as safe as possible at kid level is therefore the way to go. There are various things that can be done to keep kids safe in the kitchen – raising appliances like ovens where possible, installing floor-level appliances that feature child safety locks, choosing kitchen drawers and cabinets with in-built locking mechanisms and so on.
You have to accept that on occasion, your kids will end up in the kitchen without your supervision. At which point, a few simple yet effective safety measures really can make all the difference and makes for a really family friendly kitchen space.
Focus on Floor Space
It can be tempting to pack all the appliances, furniture and fixtures your kitchen can accommodate into the space available. Preparing meals for a large family can, after all, be simplified with all the right gadgets.
But if your goal is to truly enjoy your kitchen as a family, nothing matters more than ensuring there is adequate floor space. A compact kitchen can quickly become crowded, congested and chaotic with kids about the place. If you don’t have space to move around freely (and safely), all the appliances in the world won’t help.
Experiment with different kitchen designs and layouts on paper, before deciding which way to go. U-shaped, island kitchens, galley kitchens – all with their unique pros and cons to take into account.
Consider an open plan family friendly kitchen
If it’s an option, going open plan with the design of your kitchen could be worth considering. A kitchen that opens out directly into a shared living space can be so much more social and practical than a separate room.
This way, all the family can be together at once – even if some are relaxing while others are slaving away in the kitchen. It can also be great for keeping an eye on the kids while you cook, without having to continuously dart from one room to the next.
Open plan is a hugely popular design choice among parents with younger children in particular. Which, when considering the joys of running around kids after a certain age, is easy to understand!
Choose child friendly kitchen furniture
For you to have a truly family friendly kitchen, the furniture needs to be right. This means following the same basic principles as when choosing anything else for your kitchen. Primarily, the furniture you choose needs to be as robust as it gets. It’s going to be subjected to rough treatment, so it needs the durability to go the distance.
It also needs to be the kind of furniture that isn’t unattractively scuffed, scratched, dented or damaged at the slightest touch. Not to mention, free of any sharp corners or potentially dangerous mechanisms that could trap fingers.
If struggling for space, an extendible dining table and a set of folding chairs can be just the thing. Great for bringing out when needed and storing away conveniently at all other times.
Go Big with Your Kitchen Island
With multiple children ‘helping out’ in the kitchen, what seems to be an adequately-sized kitchen island can quickly become anything but. A kitchen island can be the ultimate social space for enjoyment and interaction – even more so than the dining table. That is, just as long as it is big enough to cope.
A large kitchen island can provide the space the whole family needs to get together to bake, cook and have fun. It’s also ideal for centralising the mess and mayhem that take place, keeping the rest of the room (reasonably) clean.
If there is space in your kitchen to accommodate a large island, go for it. There really is nothing better to encourage the whole family to come together.
A Place for Everything
Last but not least, bringing as many intelligent storage solutions as possible into your kitchen comes highly recommended. This is important for two reasons – the first of which being minimisation of cleaning and sanitising.
Always remember that the less there is crowding your surfaces, the less there is to gather dust, dirt, grease and grime. In addition, ensuring everything has its place (out of the way) means freeing up as much space as possible for you and your kids to enjoy.
Use the vertical space at your disposal to bring additional cupboards, cabinets and shelves into your kitchen. Anything that keeps clutter to a minimum (and keeps curious fingers safe) will make a welcome addition to your family kitchen.