Appliance Ergonomics: Hints and Tips When Designing Your Kitchen
Rebecca Silburn | 20 October 2016
Everyone wants their kitchen to be beautiful; after all, it’s where 60% of people spend over three hours a day , so of course it needs to be an aesthetically pleasing room. However, it also needs to be a practical space that’s easy to move around so you can prep, cook and serve food efficiently and safely. One way of ensuring that your kitchen is as ergonomic as it is stylish is to make sure your appliances are placed sensibly for how you want to use the room.
Our first tip is to place your hob near to the sink so that you don’t have to carry hot pans and heavy pots across the kitchen to be drained or washed. This is good practice in any kitchen but especially important for family homes, to avoid accidents with hot food. Likewise, regardless of children being present, make sure that the hob and sink are placed away from busy areas of the kitchen. This keeps your kitchen flow efficient thanks to creating clear ‘zones’ for activity . Alternatively, if the kitchen is large and it’s not possible to position the hob and sink close together, it’s a good idea to incorporate a prep sink close to the hob.
It is best to position your oven away from doors into the room in order to avoid blocking access to the kitchen every time you need to open the oven door. Clearance also needs to be considered with ovens - for example if you have a range cooker which requires you to bend to remove dishes you need to ensure that there is adequate room around you to allow for this.
If the oven is integrated in a bank of units, then the ergonomics can be taken to another level by positioning the oven at a specific height which is most comfortable for you to use. For example, many people opt to have their oven at waist height, making it easier to move heavy dishes in and out of the oven without the need to bend down. Equally, other appliances can be raised so that they are at a more comfortable height to use day-to-day such as dishwashers or even washing machines.
The layout of your appliances will also be dependent on the size of your kitchen. A small kitchen needs a well-considered layout to avoid it feeling cramped and impractical. Stacking appliances is one space saving solution. A large kitchen faces a different set of challenges, as the space needs to feel full without losing function. The best way to plan a larger kitchen layout is by creating zones and ensuring each zone is well laid out and that they flow together well. The shape of a larger room will sometimes create natural zones, which can then be utilised further in the kitchen design. For example in an L-shaped room it makes sense to place the food preparation, cooking and clearing areas in one section, and use the other for dining or as a living space. That way neither interferes with the other.
When it comes to putting together a new kitchen design from scratch, it is how you want to use your kitchen that determines where your designer will start. For example, if you’re a keen cook and want to include top of the range appliances such as a teppan yaki plate or even multiple ovens, finding ergonomic positions for these would be the start of a plan. Alternatively, if the kitchen is to be used primarily as an entertaining space then the position of ovens isn’t so crucial but the seating and access to glassware, drinks and the fridge is more important.
Ultimately, the key is to think long term. It’s easy to get carried away with a vision of your dream kitchen decor but it’s imperative to consider the practicalities and day-to-day usage of the space. For example, if you have a young family think about how the kitchen will need to function as they grow into teenagers. Future proofing your kitchen also applies to thinking about how comfortable it will be to use for years to come, so for example raising the dishwasher or having a waist height oven could be beneficial. Your new kitchen will last decades so it’s best to plan it for long term usage, and think through the impact and knock on effects of each design decision you make.