There’s no question about it, with kids comes clutter –— bring food into the mix and you can end up with messy clutter. The pristine state-of-the-art kitchen with sparkling appliances and minimal “kid-stuff” seems unattainable once children enter the picture. But, it really is possible to have both — all it takes is a little planning and organizing. Consider the following tips to create a stylish kitchen for the whole family.
Believe it or not, you can have white cabinetry — just be sure to choose a high-gloss or lacquer finish that is easy to wipe clean. Kitchen millwork is available in a wide range of colours. Deep red, cobalt blue or bright green is playful and sophisticated, especially when paired with white and natural wood accents. If the kitchen is small, make the space feel larger by using a darker colour for the lower cabinets and white or frosted glass for the uppers. For a chic look, use hardware that is seamless and built into the cupboard door. When they’re not so prominent children won’t be as tempted to open door and ransack the cupboards.
Stay away from materials like marble, wood or even stainless steel because they stain easily or show fingerprints. Instead, install counters made from modern composite-materials like Corian — they’re durable, inexpensive and come in a range of great colours.
Stainless steel appliances are sleek and modern but also streak-prone. To avoid the daily-wipe down, build custom cabinetry around appliances such as the fridge or dishwasher. This will give the kitchen an overall unified, modern look. Alternatively, go for black or dark-coloured appliances — they’re stylish and won’t show as much dirt.
A family’s kitchen floor sees a lot of traffic and in addition to being easy to clean and great-looking, it needs to have traction. Laminate flooring is mop-friendly but slippery, whereas ceramic tile and slate flooring are durable and give good footing. Because grouting is a dirt-collector, choose large tiles so that less grout is required. Hardwood is also nice for kitchen floors. Though it may wear faster, it is a little softer underfoot and will add warmth to the space.
Organizing Zones and Layout
For safety and efficiency, a family kitchen works best with designated zones for cooking, eating and playing. Apart from the dinning area, a large central island with barstools is a perfect spot for kids to eat or draw, while adults supervise as they cook. Children are drawn to buttons and knobs so appliances like microwaves or kettles are best stationed higher up, above the counter. Separate from the cooking zone, a desk with message board is the ideal place for answering calls, doing homework or researching recipes. Carefully plan storage: Think about the pantry in relation to the cooking area; consider open shelving for cookbooks and gadgets; place bowls or baskets in high traffic areas as clutter catchers.
Children love miniature, just-their-size furniture, so give them their very own place to eat with their friends. Look for a stylish mini dining set that compliments the kitchen’s décor, or hunt around for mismatched retro pieces for quirky charm. The same goes for highchairs. True, commonly found ones are inexpensive and practical, but their plastic trays and chintz upholstery don’t look great. Purchase a sturdy modern-looking highchair that will adjust as your child grows.
Plastic dishes and cups are light and colourful but not the best for dishwashers or microwaves. Mix and match grown-up drinkware made from thick, coloured glass (best served to little ones with a straw) with chunky ceramic plates or melamine. These materials are more sophisticated than plastic and easily found at second-hand shops. They’re heavy (difficult to throw) and durable and will omit the step of graduating from plastic to china!
True, the kitchen is where is all happens — it’s the family hub — but stylish living need not take a backseat. Be sure to consider materials and their durability, traffic and work flow, and add playful, colourful elements into the mix. The result will be a well-designed space that will read contemporary and chic instead of “kid party zone”.