kitchen design and play

Is the kitchen a space for cooking or living?

The role of the kitchen has evolved over the years. Traditionally a place reserved solely for meal preparation and dining, many new owners now see this as an underutilised space.

Although family sizes are smaller than previous generations, space is often at a premium in many builds. Homeowners are beginning to see the benefit of transforming their humble kitchen into a place that is no longer for culinary purposes but as a zone where more time can be spent for leisure and play.

Changing Times

Kitchen conversations 

In years gone by, kitchens were the bedrock of family lives. Sitting around the kitchen table at dinnertime without digital distractions and talking about the day’s events is a fondly remembered part of many adults’ memories growing up. While that does continue to some extent to this day, it is not as frequent as it once was, owing in no small part to the busyness of our modern lives. 

Is cooking a chore or a skill to be celebrated?

For many, cooking is not a chore – it’s a hobby to be enjoyed and shared with family and friends. The preparation of food can often be viewed as a skill to display to guests – after all, many restaurants feature the chef on full display for your culinary delight and entertainment, so for cooking enthusiasts, a well designed kitchen where you can demonstrate your creativity and entertain your guests at the same time is a must.

How does our relationship with food influence kitchen design?

Cultural, age and gender differences influence our relationship to food. Food is prepared, stored, cooked and eaten (usually!) in the kitchen. On the continent, food plays an important role in bringing people together – the fun and camaraderie creating meals and arguing over who does the washing up. Often described as the heart of the home, there are few places more important in developing a healthy physical, mental and social connection with each other. In warmer climates outdoor kitchens with BBQ areas allow meal times to become social highlights of the day.

Kitchen 2.0

Choosing to spend more time in the kitchen doesn’t necessarily suggest extra hours cooking and cleaning. Many activities are better utilised in a kitchen space:

  • Without the comforts of a living room such as soft chairs and TV screens, children’s homework is often completed more effectively at the end of a kitchen table. Seated countertops bring that experience one step closer to the parent preparing meals and a togetherness often without the need for words. 
  • Playtime with siblings, friends or pets is always better on tiled surfaces to help with cleaning or ‘accidents’.
  • Quiet study or remote work. Sturdy table and chairs. Few distractions and easy access to the coffee pot, it is understandable to see why so many people who worked from home during the pandemic set up their working station in the kitchen.
  • Large group gatherings for special occasions – even the acoustics in the kitchen often add to the atmosphere!

Size and style are important

The reasons to use a kitchen as an extension of other living spaces are many, but ultimately each kitchen is different and motivations vary.

A small, cold kitchen devoid of natural light is unlikely to encourage many to spend longer than necessary there. Seasonality also has an impact. In the winter, we tend to retire to warmer rooms in the house. In the summer, we prefer more open and brighter spaces to socialise.

Many other factors also contribute to how you view the kitchen. The size of our household, the hours that you work, how long you spend at home in general, seating options, the feature installations available, your mode of cooking, etc.

Our relationship with food tells a lot about our relationship with our kitchen. But one thing can be said with certainty – it is what you make it, and the flexibility of this room can turn a humble kitchen into a bustling hub full of rich aromas, lively chatter and a place to engage the senses.

At Surreal, we have been in the business of designing and installing kitchens for over two decades. Reach out to a member of our team to see how we can help design the kitchen of your dreams.

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