Smart Tips for the Ergonomic Kitchen
Bend, Stretch. Twist, Turn, Duck, reach…
No, this isn't boot camp. This is you, making dinner. And if you're a woman, you may be doing all this wearing high heels on a ceramic tile floor. Ouch.
Fortunately, designers and architects are paying more attention to the science of ergonomics, or creating rooms that are designed to encourage productivity, efficiency and comfort. By coupling ergonomically designed appliances and fixtures with careful planning, working in your kitchen can become a pleasure, not a pain.
Counters are important considerations; we recommend customizing counter heights, rather than forcing your body to adapt to standardized sizes (unless you happen to be the right height for them anyway). Consider installing two or more counters at varying heights — a lower one (34 to 38 inches tall) for food preparation, like slicing and stirring and another at bar height (44 to 46 inches) to hold foods ready for serving, or items you are not currently using, like the bowl of melted chocolate that needs to cool before you add it to the egg whites. When choosing custom sizes, a good rule is to consider the height of the countertop in relation to the height of your elbow. When a kitchen acts as a social center, guests or family members can also gather at the bar — which can go as high as 48 inches — and chat with the cook comfortably, rather than perching atop a dishwasher or leaning against the fridge.
Give Floors Some "Bounce"
Even floors count, stone or ceramic tile, using "bouncy" materials like wood, rubber and especially cork, which are easier on feet and legs. Alternatively, you can try placing mats or small rag rugs (with non-slip padding) in strategic areas by counter, stove and sink.
Go for Drawers, Not Doors
Cabinets with large drawers for plates, cookware and small appliances, allowing you to see and retrieve the contents without having to duck under a counter or crawl into the cabinet to find what you need.
"Flip" Over Cabinets
When developing your design, rehearsing the way you'll use your cabinets to make sure the doors open properly. "If they're placed to open the wrong way, it adds a lot of ducking and double maneuvers," there is another option: European-style cabinets in which the door flips up, rather than to the side.
Storage, Outlets and Seating
As with most things, details count. Lazy Susans and multi-tiered storage racks save leaning deeply into an upper cabinet, as do shelving and other storage options installed on the inside of cabinet doors
Think, too, of the placement of electrical outlets what we call "secret outlets," design your upper cabinets to extend about 3 inches down past the bottom frame. That way you can run a channel of outlets all the way across the bottom of your upper cabinets, and can't see them. But any time you need to plug something in, you just reach up and plug it in, from wherever you are standing — no need to lug appliances around. These are especially great on islands — and when you are getting a recipe off your laptop."
If you also a big advocate of that old stand by, you can choose the classic kitchen’s stool. "Always have one handy," If you like to design ample, open space to house one, or preferably, two stools. It looks sharp, as well. The stool should have a cross-bar so you have someplace to rest your feet. You can sit down while mixing or doing any kind of food preparation." An added bonus, "when most people sit on a stool, they sit balanced, and practice better posture."
Design for Lefties
Left-handers will also want to pay attention to things like stove placement. If you tend to hang utensils on the wall, situate the stove so the wall is to your left, making it easy to grab your spatula. Dishwashers should also be placed to the left, rather than to the right side of the sink.
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