A recent Wallpaper* article exposed the Wellness Kitchen movement that I have been a huge fan of for more than the idea has been around. As a Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designer, a lot of people are confused as to what functional needs they require in a kitchen and I’m always curious about what motivates their choices. Aside from trusting me to provide the right design solution, I often find that Clients are hung up on the design-normative aesthetic and jumping outside of that box can be a major hurdle. The idea of implementing Wellness into any kitchen design is one of them because the information is confusing.
What the Wallpaper* article didn’t do a great job of was identifying Wellness Design and you can read more on that here. Taking from those principals and applying them to the traditional approach of kitchen planning needs a lot of tweaking. Here are the top 5 must haves in a Wellness Designed Kitchen.
1. Organics & Packaging Seperation
It’s not just a matter of reducing your packaging waste that is a good thing to do. Now more than ever Organics, different types of recycling and waste reduction are critical to our planet. Traditional kitchen design calls this “Waste & Recycling Management” but that seems so dated now. We are not just sorting our recycling, we have reusable bags, organic compost, boxes from the farmers market, packaging we take back to the farmers market, and containers with a refundable deposit. Most kitchens have a small area to manage our bi-products of cooking, but there are better ways such as a minimum 4 bin pull-out that is at least 24” wide, a in-counter stainless steel compost bin, and a drawer or two to store reusable shopping bags.
2. LED Task Lighting (at the correct temperature)
A major are of both success and failure in projects is lighting. I get it, not many people think about hiring a design professional and often the electrician is left trying to fit a budget. The low-down on lighting is three fold: colour temperature, lumen output, and colour rendition index. To further complicate matters, there is no one set rule for one project because it depends on age and sight ability, materials, finishes, and reflectance in the room. So, a simpler common selection would be a colour temperature between 2700K - 3500K and warm-to-dim preferred, lumen outputs of 500l, and a CRI of 80-85.
3. Increased Food Preperation Areas
I recently started cooking at home 90% of the time and dining out simply 10% of the time. This means I needed substantially more food storage volume, and I am using 75% fresh food. No, this isn’t a diet and there isn’t a goal, it’s about tasting what is good for me and my health. There is a large vegan movement, vegetarians are on the up, and farm-to-table is massive. All this means that there isn’t just one preparation zone of at least 36” and 18” deep, but multiple preparation zones with varied use. In addition, refrigeration capacity is always over the limit and a supplemental refrigerator is key.
4. Low Maintenance Material
One of my principals with kitchen design is to create a “wash & wear” space with the right materials that work for each homeowner because it all depends who’s doing the cleaning - in-house or outsourced. It is always important to keep top of mind that cabinets are made of wood, wood is not perfect, and to maintain the freshly installed look you need to stay on top of spills with a warm, lightly damp cloth and some mild natural soap. For counters, I’m a strong believer in engineered stones like quartz because they are strong and food safe, but be ware of high-sea imposters because they aren’t equil. Combining with the right splash material means a kitchen that will stand the toll of everyday use. When it comes to plumbing fixtures and sinks, I’m a huge advocate for BLANCO’s quality and their SILGRANIT sinks. Ask me to tell you about the time I threw a hot cast-iron frying pan into a white SILGRANIT sink and nothing happened.
5. Connection to Community
A little more esoteric, but a kitchen that permits flexibility with entertaining, farm fresh food storage, and easy cooking is extremely important. More time to spend connecting to our roots, neighbours, friends & family is what we all want. Part of that is focusing the orientation and activities within the kitchen to support your lifestyle. This includes everything from how you come into the home, arms loaded with groceries, to how you like your glass of water - filtered or tap. Ensuring that your needs are addressed is how our skill and expertise are put to good use because anyone can put a couple of boxes together with a laminate top and call it a kitchen, but not everyone can understand you and dedicate them self’s to finding solutions to suit your direct needs.