Kids love to cook and get involved with baking and food preparation, and it’s a great skill to encourage from an early age. Food has the potential to bring your whole family together and a family-friendly kitchen is a space that should grow with your family. But how do you go about designing this kind of space, where you have the storage and room to cook and spend time together and that works for all ages? Before remodelling your entire kitchen, it’s worth setting out a plan for how you want to use this room. Here are some top tips to create the perfect family-friendly design.
Be honest about what your family needs
When you’re faced with countless Instagram and Pinterest images of aesthetic kitchens, it’s easy to let your imagination run wild with gorgeous vintage furniture and minimalist work surfaces that are breathtaking and sleek. But how practical would such a design be for your family? The reality is that, for many of us, these types of magazine-worthy kitchens just aren’t functional.
Are your kids likely to sit at a formal dining table or would they prefer a breakfast bar? Do you need a space that can be moved around to accommodate more guests if you have friends or family who regularly dine with you, or to allow little ones to invite their friends over after school. Think carefully about how your family uses your current kitchen and what’s missing, so you can create a layout that really works for you.
Make it fuss-free
One of the primary elements to any family-friendly kitchen is low maintenance materials that are easy to keep clean and hygienic, but will also stand up to the wear and tear of busy family life. Your kitchen cabinets should be easy to wipe clean, for example, making gloss kitchen cabinetry a great option as well as the right paint finishes on woodwork, such as eggshell, so you can wipe away spills and splashes quickly. Likewise, your kitchen worktop should be hard-wearing, wipeable and stain-resistant, making the likes of a natural stone such as granite the perfect choice for a material that balances functionality with style.
Keep it open-plan
An open-plan layout that fuses living or dining with the kitchen area is a great option for family homes, because it gives you more flexibility and creates the illusion of more space. The kitchen is the heart of the home, but by opening it up to include a dining area or putting it in close proximity to your living space, it provides you with the opportunity to spend more time together as a family where adults can cook and kids can play at the same time. If your plans don’t allow for knocking through walls, installing a kitchen island in your kitchen is another alternative that gives the same opportunity for socialising and dining. It’s a versatile and hardworking layout that’s perfect for a growing family.
Add a chalkboard
Don’t ignore the chalkboard trend — it’s more practical than you might realise. A blackboard in the kitchen is perfect for keeping kids entertained, where they can stay occupied while you cook, but it’s also practical for writing down reminders for the week, adding grocery lists and ingredients you’ve run out of, or even achievements from the week such as work promotions or a great test score from school.
Storage should be a priority
Families of all sizes need good storage in the home, especially in the kitchen. Everything should have its own place, from plates and glasses to cookware and appliances, so factoring in storage into your design will make it easier to keep your kitchen tidy and organised. And it doesn’t all need to be at eye-level. For example, utilise space above doors and cupboards which is not only great for those items you need but don’t use every day, but also helps you keep sharp or dangerous items out of reach of little ones.
Install a practical pantry
If your kitchen space allows, installing a pantry is a great addition for your family. They’re an excellent use of storage which results in less clutter in cupboards and on worktops, but it’s also perfect for encouraging healthy eating habits in your kids as they’ll be able to help themselves to healthy snacks, while putting sugary treats elsewhere in higher kitchen cupboards.
Another use of pantry or larder cupboards is to create a dedicated space for certain appliances, such as a breakfast station for your coffee machine and toaster, or a smoothie station for your blender so you can keep all the ingredients and tools you need for these tasks in one place for added convenience, avoiding getting in one another’s way in the mornings when everyone is getting ready for work and school.
Choose kid-friendly furniture
Kids are likely to leave marks, sticking fingerprints and spillages all over furniture and cabinets, so choosing styles that have minimal or zero crevices and details will make them much easier to clean and prevent crumbs and liquids from getting trapped in the gaps. It’s also worth choosing furniture like seating that is easy for them to climb onto without assistance, such as chairs with bars at the bottom for easy support, or step stools so they can use the sink or reach the worktop without needing to be lifted up.
Likewise, if you choose to add electrics to your kitchen island, such as a hob or electrical outlets for appliances, make sure there are safety indicators included so you can see when the power is on and move seating as far away as possible, to keep kids safe when you’re cooking.
The kitchen is widely considered to be the heart of the home, and that’s certainly the case for busy families. But if your current set-up doesn’t quite work for you, making these changes can help to create a kitchen layout that’s beautiful and practical, and will remain functional and enjoyable to use for many years to come.