Kitchen Usability

Sometime, somewhere, someone’s going to write about interdisciplinary approaches to solving life’s complex problems if they haven’t already.
One good example would be what I experienced today, while deciding on the layout for our new kitchen. Budgetary issues aside, we made modifications and decisions using a mix of common sense, experience and … some old web design know-how.

You can probably draw some comparisons from the following points:

How usable is it?

When deciding on a kitchen’s layout and furniture, it’s useful to bring along someone who actually uses the kitchen. Mum in particular had a lot of useful little insights.
For instance, all kitchen counters should have a recess at the base, so that people’s toes don’t knock into them. This is something we usually take for granted.
Similarly, cupboards and drawers shouldn’t have big, protruding handles – especially if you have to squeeze about in a small kitchen.
We also decided that we didn’t want to bend down to open the oven. Bad for the back, especially when we pull out that huge Christmas turkey. The consultant said the new fashion was to put the oven at arm’s level anyway, so that’s being rearranged.

Is it easy to maintain?

Remember that the components you choose, you have to live with – until the next time you renovate your house. Your kitchen must be easy to upkeep.
Also, it shouldn’t have a design that could easily go out of fashion. Stainless steel looks really nice – but, as all iPod owners know, they leave a lot of fingerprints behind.

Know your environment.

For cupboard doors, we chose lacquered wood that (hopefully) wouldn’t absorb moisture. Our consultant explained that Europeans liked chipboard (a la Ikea), but we didn’t want a material that would expand in the humid Singapore weather.
Good technical support was offered. In the event that our doors chip, they can be detached and repaired.
It’s also good for the parties involved to explain their needs. To describe how seriously we took the humidity situation at home, I told the consultant, “In this house, we have two dehumidifiers. In half a day, both tanks are already full of water. There’s also a big canal right behind our house. There’s moisture everywhere!!”

Visualise the scene.

When our consultant starting throwing numbers around, I knew we had to have a good picture of exactly how a long preparation table would fit in our L-shaped kitchen. That is to say, we needed to see a ‘mockup’. So he found us a table that was similar in length. He also showed us a photograph of the table in a kitchen similar to the one we were going to have.
We also spent some time deciding on colours. They gave us colour swatches, though I wish they had a software program that could immediately map the colours we chose for our counter-top, cupboard panels and floor tiles.
We think white is beautiful.


  1. tiggie

    someone in the max-planck for biological cybenetics in tuebingen has come up with a programme that investigates achitectural room perception. normally programmes that allow one to see how a room might look is available…i think…or at least i would have think so.
    white is beautiful, indeed… :C)

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