In your home, which room is the busiest? Where do your family – and your guests – like to linger and socialize? 9 times out of 10, it’s wherever the food is! The food center is not just the functional center of your home; it’s also an essential social center. That makes sense, because food isn’t just a means of nutrition; it’s a gift and a pleasure we like to celebrate. There’s wisdom in the adage that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach!
And because the kitchen is the heart of your home, you need to think beyond common essentials like the refrigerator, stove, microwave, toaster, and so on. Think also of ways that you can turn your kitchen into a more functional, efficient, and comfortable space.
A Focal Point
The main function of a kitchen is to facilitate the preparation of food and drink, with the primary focus being the warmest part—the fire, if you will, where you cook! The stove/range/oven represents fire. In any kitchen, large or small, emphasize this area by giving it plenty of space, and doing some things to set it apart visually. Don’t just let your cooktop or vent hood blend into the surrounding cabinetry; make it a real focal point! You can help achieve this by adding some accents to the backsplash, like some heatproof art. Maybe hang some vintage dinner plates and utensils above the stove (ask a contractor for ideas on how to safely hang items here). You can also suspend a pot rack, or do some things to change the lighting.
The eating section is an inviting area of secondary focus for your kitchen. Plan to have at least barstools or chairs at the counter. If you have the space for it, plan to include at least a small table. Sometimes there’s really not a whole lot you can do with the stove/range/oven area. In that case, choose to be more intentional about making your eating/gathering section (the table, counter, kitchen island, or whatever) your kitchen’s area of primary focus. Choose some interesting seating, use more dramatic lighting, and include the right tablecloths, runners, and table settings to help create a warm, inviting environment.
Consider a durable indoor-outdoor rug that will hold up to the inevitable dirt, stains, crumbs, and heavy traffic. A mat or rug by the sink or range also makes sense if you have back problems or discomfort from standing; just make sure it’s easy to keep clean and dry. An area rug is a great way to bring some personality to your kitchen, and also help to visually tie in all of your other kitchen accents.
Unexpected Germs and Odors
A clean kitchen is a healthy kitchen. Unpleasant smells in the kitchen can negatively impact the atmosphere of the rest of your home, too. Maybe it’s time for a new garbage can? Consider opting for a smaller one – it’ll force you to take the trash out more often. Using compostable bags as liners will keep things cleaner for longer, too. If you have pets, a can with a lid makes sense, but just make sure you’re cleaning the lid regularly. Wash or replace the filter in your dishwasher too, as this can be a place where odors hang around. While you’re at it, go ahead and replace the filter for your refrigerator’s water and ice dispensers; the water will come out faster, and it’ll taste fresher, too!
Besides unhealthy odors, invisible germs lurk in all sorts of unexpected places in the kitchen. Besides the surfaces you typically clean (like countertops, stovetops, and sinks), there may be some spots you’re missing:
- Knife block
- Utensil drawer and tray
- Refrigerator veggie drawers
- Microwave and toaster control panels
- Salt and pepper shakers
- Dish drying rack
Be mindful of also changing out your dish scrubs, brushes, and cleaning sponges regularly. Germs easily collect and spread in these types of items.
Keeping Your Kitchen Organized
An organized kitchen can make a huge difference in how smoothly your kitchen flows, from food prep to cooking to being able to enjoy the space with more ease and comfort. Here are some helpful ways to keep your kitchen running effortlessly:
- Hang S-hooks from a tension rod to store pots, pans, and cooking utensils. They can also be used to show off your coffee or tea mugs, with the added benefit of freeing up some cupboard space.
- Put up a pegboard on your kitchen wall. It’s an effective way to clear drawer & cabinet space, and makes it easy for you to find, grab, and use whatever you need!
- Magazine holders screwed to the inside of a kitchen cabinet door or pantry door are another practical way to keep things organized and easy to find. They’re great for keeping cutting boards & baking trays – not to mention your collection of food container lids.
Kitchens sometimes serve other purposes, too. The kitchen counter or table is a great place for kids to do their homework. The kitchen may also be your default location for going through the mail, reading the paper, writing letters or emails, paying bills, etc. If that’s how it is in your home, think about some ways to better accommodate these functions. Try keeping your kids’ school supplies in a mobile cart that can be wheeled from a nearby closet to the kitchen table. Hanging up magazine racks and adding a cork board can also help to keep your mail sorted, and your family schedule updated. If there’s space, having a small desk area can be a wonderful addition to a kitchen. Even a small portion of your counter can be set apart as a designated “home office” space!
Help Your Kitchen to Inspire!
We hope these ideas are helpful as you seek to make your kitchen more inspiring for you, your family, and your guests! It truly is the hearth and heart of your home, so enjoy it!