Creating a Family-Friendly Kitchen(page 2 of 2)

Add features like accessible food storage, durable surfaces and an open floor plan


Easy-to-clean surfaces. Wipeability is key with family. Quartz surfaces, a man-made product, are durable, not as porous as natural stone (so less likely to stain). For budget-savvy households, laminate is available in a variety of colors and patterns that can even emulate granite. It’s not the real deal, so don’t expect to fool home buyers if you put the house up for sale. But it does stand up to spills. When choosing materials, consider their forgiveness if glasses are carelessly clunked on the countertop. For example, glass tile is not shock absorbent; and quartz cushions impact better than granite.

Accessible pantry. Storage for groceries is a top concern for families, and the “consumables” zone often doesn’t get the attention it deserves during planning, according to Blum, Inc., a producer of cabinet hardware. Pantry cabinets with drawers that fully extend make it easy to reach items. Perhaps children have designated pantry drawers that are lower and contain parent-approved foods. “Promoting self-sufficiency in the kitchen and healthy eating habits is important to consider,” Pierce says. “If you can, make it easy for kids to make the things they like to eat.”

Open plan. The kitchen and living room are practically synonymous in a family’s home. One should flow into the other, and the lines between the two are getting more blurred. “The whole point is to build this beautiful kitchen that is user-friendly, but now you have to have those comforts that you used to have in your living room,” Bergin says.

Snack bar. Features like an island will multi-task in a family kitchen, serving as a snack bar, dining area or place for children to do homework while a parent prepares dinner.

Refrigerator drawers. Refrigerator configurations that include separate drawers are convenient for families that stock specific items for children, giving them permission to help themselves to food in the kids’ drawer. Also consider point-of-service refrigerators placed in convenient zones—even mudrooms.

Convection microwave. Speaking of multi-tasking in the kitchen, this microwave works double-time as a device for reheating and cooking, and a fast-speed oven. “A microwave can take up a great deal of real estate in the kitchen, whether installed over an oven, in a pantry or built into cabinetry,” Divita says. “The ability to use the microwave as a real convection oven takes the use of that microwave one step further. It acts as a small oven, which saves you money as opposed to putting in a double-oven.”

Other Considerations:

  • A 30-inch baker’s height countertop in one zone; or a pull-out countertop that is lower and gives children ample workspace
  • Floor surfaces that are easy to wipe down, such as porcelain tiles
  • A family seating area, such as a breakfast nook, small table or even lounge chairs and a coffee table
  • Media such as a computer or flat-screen television
  • A family organization center that can be hidden away in a cabinet space, containing calendars, a bulletin board and other scheduling/messaging tools
  • Pet food storage bins built into cabinetry

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