I was raised around a commercial kitchen and so I have a fondness for cooking and planning for cooking. My favorite place, as a kid, was the cold zone where the tubs of ice cream were kept, and the fountain/beverage service area, where I was so thrilled at “organizing” the mise en place objects . I loved the elegant dishes reserved for serving ice cream, the tall and amusing shape of the ice tea spoons, the white coffee cups with the apple red rims laid out with matching saucers stacked next to them, the glasses in pull out plastic trays below the counter for ease of serving glasses of water and iced tea. (I probably drove the servers crazy when I “re-organized” things for them before service). At the tender age of eight I knew the difference between a steam table and a deep fryer, was enthralled with the glow from the salamander, watching cheese bubble on the hot plates, I loved stirring the sauces in the steam table when the cooks would permit me in the kitchen during prep hours. Kitchens are in my blood. I was a kitchen designer in the making before I even knew it!
As I witness a trend developing into an accepted theory in residential kitchen design, I am delighted to show clients how to embrace zoning in their kitchen too. There is a growing acceptance by kitchen designers and homeowners alike to move away from the notion of a kitchen triangle. There was a time when that worked perfectly when the homemaker was the chief cook and bottle washer.
However, as the kitchen has evolved as a gathering space with more than one cook, so to has the options in appliances we want for our home and how we organize them in our kitchens. As walls come down between kitchen and adjoining family room, and as the kitchen melds into the family room, the opportunity to co-op a commercial kitchen’s work zone is coming into play more often.
Thus a kitchen triangle is out of sync in a larger kitchen and “zoning” is the new key feature to a residential gourmet kitchen. Searching the topic, I typed “commercial kitchen” in Google, and was not surprised to see how kitchen design has evolved with terms reserved for commercial design.
For example, Dornbracht shows off zoning for the kitchen sink: two bowls, each with its own faucet.
Two sinks, two faucets are desired in the zoned kitchen. It is an idea from commercial design that makes logical sense. A clean up zone and a preparation zone perform better when they do not share a single source of water. A residential kitchen may not have the space a commercial kitchen does for a seperate clean up zone but even a small kitchen can benefit from two faucets to keep wash up chores separate from salad and vegetable prep work. Dornbracht sees the value and is offering it to consumers now.
Kraftmaid, one of the largest cabinet manufacturers in the United States has introduced Harmony Kitchen Zones. Kraftmaid breaks it down to great visual marketing material with interactive point and click photos and PDF printable handouts for homeowners to see the benefit with cabinets designed with zoning in mind. Kraftmaid states in their ads, “The best kitchen designs are laid out with work zones … Harmony® Storage Solutions for your kitchen are organized by zones as well.”
Viking Range Corporation has published an article in their newsletter, The Edge, “Breaking out of the Work Triangle”. The basis for zoning your kitchen is replacing the triangle with a series of zones: The Preparation Zone, The Baking and Cooking Zone, The Beverage Center, and the Clean Up Zone.
No longer relegated to the back of the house, residential kitchens are now taking their cue from commercial kitchen design, using the theory of zoning to provide a well organized cooking and gathering space for all to come into the kitchen. True, residential kitchen, (with the exception of a kosher kitchen), will never need to have the commercial requirements for a separate fish, vegetable, meat and sauce sections. Although it would be great to have your own personal soux chef once in a while, residential kitchen design can benefit when planned with prep centers, baking & cooking zones, beverage centers and clean up zones. Zoning, a must for restaurants and hotel kitchens that require organization and order to perform with speed and efficiency, with a chef, soux chefs, line cooks and pastry chefs, servers and cleanup crew all working simultaneously to prepare, serve and clean up for hundreds of guests a day. No doubt a residential kitchen can benefit from similar types of zoning, regardless of large or small kitchens. Although a homeowner may not be preparing food at the same capacity as a commercial kitchen, the residential kitchen needs to serve the demands of the household. The kitchen, a daily family gathering space, when well planned with zones, will allow for multiple family cooks to lend a hand or just simply hang out in the kitchen in a inviting, welcoming way.
Suffice it to say, the kitchen has evolved. There are architectural books that detail the entire history of homes throughout the ages, so I will not comment on the social history here. It really is fascinating to read and discover how the home has evolved. If interested in further reading, I highly recommend Witold Rybczynski book, Home: A Short History of an Idea for further reading.