Open kitchens are here!

Open kitchens are here!
Open kitchens are the flavour of the season and are becoming increasingly popular in newer apartment blocks, all over the country. They can be challenging for those of us who have always viewed kitchens as private places that function as part laboratories where experiments can be carried out without someone poking their noses, and part comfort places where you can churn out delicacies for your loved ones. Of course, there can also be challenges in terms of design, decor, layout and storage. 

So, here are some ideas to make your open kitchen a welcome, homely, cosy, stylish as well as a functional space for you to potter around and create those gourmet delicacies or comfort food; or eat and dine in style with your friends and family.

Tear down room dividers

If you have the choice to bring down walls or to create them, go ahead and experiment. Do keep in mind that if the walls are load-bearing, you should keep those as they are; but if you have the option of taking them down, keep just a few or only one. You may sacrifice a lot of storage space because of this, but this will also create an open and bright feel in the house.

Harmonise your colour scheme

Colour is another critical component of an open kitchen plan. “Since you can stand in any corner of the room and see portions of the kitchen, dining room, living room or lobby, the colour scheme has to seamlessly flow from one area to the other. The key is to look at the big picture. Regard the connected spaces as one entity and not as different rooms,” mentions Arnab Saharoy of Homefuly, a Bengaluru-based interior decor start-up.

A bright accent wall in the living area can be in the same hue as the kitchen
cabinets, and bright pendant lighting draped in a similar colour over the
countertop can instantly shape a flowing visual and tie together seemingly varied sections of the room. The back of cabinets can be in a bold colour and provide the accent wall.

Build multi-utility storage

You can cleverly build storage space by creating a large kitchen island and using it for all purposes, right from seating to dining to storage and food preparation. Add in a set of drawers, cabinets for spices, storage space for appliances, a pull-out garbage can – the options are multifold.

The kitchen island can be a separater between the living and kitchen areas. One side of the island can be used as a breakfast counter in the day and as a bar in the evening (using bar stools).

This can also be used as an interactive spot where you can host anything from mini town halls to debates or friendly banter between good friends. A pull-out or fold-in dining table is a great addition as well as a space saver. Installing a cook-top in the kitchen island will ensure that you as the cook can stay in the conversation or lord it over the proceedings. You will then need to add a hood overhead along with appropriate light and ventilation. Hiring a professional for this project will ensure safety and functionality.

Organise your appliances

If you are installing appliances like a dishwasher, you'll want the cabinets in which you store the servingware close by. If placing a microwave oven or refrigerator, make sure there’s enough room to walk around with knocking yourself out. Pull-out drawers for your food processor, coffee maker, toaster etc. which have occasional uses will ensure free space for cooking and entertaining.

Make provisions for ample countertop space

Ensure enough unhindered countertop space to place a hot bowl without spilling, or place a few cold drinks when guests pull up a seat. “Countertop space can be a display area for your creative spirit with decorative crockery and cutlery, elegant glass jars or opaque canisters for storing your staples like sugar, tea and coffee; or if you are an avid baker, you should be able to just reach out and grab that flour from a cute jar,” says Parul Amla of Antrik Design Studio. While you are at it, just add a canister to hold your spatulas, ladles and other tools. If you can get your favourite tools to also match your countertop appliances, you get bonus points.  Add a towel rod to the side of your island with ‘S’ hooks to hang your pots and pans, which will look lovely.

Use appropriate lighting

The key feature of an open kitchen is lighting. Keep in mind the right balance of coverage, style and function. You can hang a chandelier in the middle of the kitchen atop the island, use task lighting for the sink, cooking and food preparation areas. Finally, mood lighting above and below cabinets will set the tone for a relaxed evening of fun and laughter with friends and family to unwind after a long hard day at work with a glass of wine and some soothing music in the background.
Furniture must blend in

Choosing the right furniture is of paramount importance for open kitchen design. Choose carefully to ensure comfortable breakfast or formal lunch/dinner seating, clean counter tops for food preparation and disposal, functional cooking areas with easy access to tools, spices and appliances are critical to an open kitchen design.

Beyond built-in storage and counter

options, determine if your kitchen allows enough room for seating, whether at a table-style island or breakfast bar. When friends, family members or guests can pull up a chair (or stool) and stay a while, seating at the kitchen island becomes a necessary luxury, allowing the cook to stay engaged in the conversation, help with homework, or request help with prep work — any cook’s dream. Keep in mind that placement of furniture is the key to a comfortable, yet stylish open kitchen

Finish with great flooring

Great floors are the backbone of an open kitchen plan. Whether it’s wood, stone, concrete or tile, flooring definitely makes a big impact in a space. If you like tiles in the kitchen, use a natural stone tile of some kind throughout. It will give you the warmth and high quality look in your living room space and the wearability you need for the kitchen.
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