Smarter Kitchen Design
Last year (2010), the Museum of Modern Art explored the ultimate kitchen design. The exhibit was called Counter Space, and it featured a model kitchen kitted with efficiencies the likes of which I had never seen. Every element in the room found a logical and ergonomic place: a warming chamber attached to the side of the oven to take advantage of the heat that's already there; plate racks that double as drying racks; flour, sugar, and spices could be stored in small pull-out drawers, each labeled with the name of the ingredient. The twist? This ideal and modern kitchen was designed in 1926-1927!
"Frankfurt Kitchen," as its known, was the creation of an architect named Grete Schütte-Lihotzky. "In the aftermath of World War I," MOMA explains, "thousands of these kitchens were manufactured for public-housing estates being built around the city of Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany."
Image by Yana Paskova for The New York Times.
It makes me batty to know that someone figured out how to put together a kitchen in a way that makes sense, and we're not doing it today.
Lately, I've been looking at apartments and condos because I'm thinking about moving house soon, and I wouldn't mind finding a place with a kitchen that's so poorly designed that I wouldn't feel bad gutting it and starting over. What would I put in my ideal kitchen? I've been thinking about it, and here are some of the features I'd want:
- as in Frankfurt Kitchen, I'd want to store my plates in a rack doubles as an air dryer, positioned next to the sink
- sink with two basins
- detachable faucet head so I can remove it and fill a pot that's on the counter or stove
- marker board for writing notes, either on the wall or as the front of the refrigerator
- a new and powerful oven hood (I'm forever filling my kitchen with smoke)
- a window or skylight that can open
- shelving for potted herbs near both the sink (for watering) and window (for light)
- a warming chamber attached to the stove
- compost bin
- a space in the refrigerator that can safely hold a half-empty bottle of wine upright
- a gray water system and compost bucket
- expandable counter surface, as in a table leaf (no matter how ideal my kitchen space, it's inevitably going to be somewhat tiny, but that's the price I pay for living in New York).
I'd also ideally like for no cupboard to be higher than a foot above my head. My current kitchen has ample storage space, but it extends about four feet higher than the top of the refrigerator, so it's complete inaccessible unless I climb up on a stool. Other shelving in my kitchen is just barely within my reach, but I'm five-foot-eight. My shorter friends and family can't reach the wine glasses, mixing bowls, or mugs.
Name-brand appliances aside, what would you put in your ideal kitchen, and how would you design it smarter than what's common now?