Smarter Kitchen Design

MOMA kitchen exhibit 2010, New York Times
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?