Why an Ergonomic Kitchen Should be Top of Your Renovation Priorities
Think back through your kitchens past and no doubt you have at least one experience with a disastrous design flaw. Whether it’s a range hood in the perfect forehead collision zone, cupboards that clash when open, or a fridge so far from your work zones you run marathons trying to cook, chances are you have already got an idea of the value of a good design. What makes a good design great, however, is even more valuable, and that’s ergonomics.
Turning a ‘good design’ to an ‘ergonomic’ design takes clever thinking beyond convenience, and into efficiency, safety and forward planning. Putting ergonomics front and centre of your kitchen build brings a whole range of benefits that not only help you in your day to day life, but will ensure your kitchen stays functional and relevant as your household and lifestyle changes. Still not convinced? Here are just some of the top reasons an ergonomic design needs to be at the top of your kitchen priorities:
Save Your Health and Your Sanity
It’s no secret the kitchen is the hub of family life, and is a constant workspace for families and individuals alike. Ergonomics refers to an applied science that is concerned with the design and arrangement of a workspace so that people and objects work together in the safest and most efficient way possible. When it comes to the kitchen, we are constantly moving around, bending to pull pots and pans out of cupboards, reaching for crockery and ingredients, working with hot elements and usually trying to get things done as fast as possible.
Using some clever design work, you can create huge change in the ongoing impact that working in a kitchen can have on your body, not to mention avoid some of the headaches that slowly take a toll on your sanity. Here are a few examples:
Dishwasher Do’s and Don’ts
Unpacking crockery from the bottom shelf of a low dishwasher, into above head cupboards across the other side of the kitchen can cause back ache from constant bending, reaching and twisting. An ergonomic fix to this is to store your crockery in cupboards either side of your dishwasher so you can unpack and put away in one smooth movement without the constant strain on your hips, knees and back.
Make sure your dishwasher is as close to your sink as possible. Not only does this keep your plumbing work to a minimum, it minimises the amount of water spillage on the ground from transferring rinsed dishes from the sink into the dishwasher, avoiding slip hazards.
Strategically Placed Microwaves
For a while placing microwaves above the stove was all the rage. This poses a few serious health hazards including having to reach over hot elements to retrieve food, not to mention the dangers it can cause for kids who need to reach above head height to pull out hot dishes. Instead, place your microwave around waist height so minimal movement is required, reducing the time spent holding hot dishes and the likelihood for liquids to spill during excessive movement.
Pair your Appliances and Vessels
Using a coffee machine and a kettle? Store your mugs and coffee cups in a draw below your beverage appliances, and your tea and coffee in a cupboard above. Not only does this save you time and effort (perfect for non-morning people) it also avoids moving a hot kettle around the kitchen.
Look Forward for Future Benefits
If your whole family is 6ft tall then designing a kitchen with nice high benches and cupboards will certainly have an impact. But what happens when more people family or you decide to sell?
Striking a balance between what works for you now and what will work in the future is essential in creating an ergonomic kitchen that sells and adapts to the household. Consider incorporating different height benches to accommodate for varying heights, and research some of the great pull down cupboard storage solutions to make life as easy as possible for the shorter members of the household.
Think About Your Future Traffic Flow
Have a good think about how you use your kitchen now, and how it might be used in five or ten years’ time. While having a fridge in a corner of an enclosed kitchen might be fine for today, if your household grows or you want to sell to a larger family, a crowded kitchen will soon become a huge issue. The same goes with pantries, sinks, and any other high traffic kitchen points. Place these points on the outer edges of the kitchen so they can be accessed without walking through the work zone. Open plan and walk through kitchens with an island bench are great for improving traffic flow and efficiency.