Eating and Cooking at Home-4 Design Tips to Help-According to LiLu
By Lisa Peck, ASID
For many people, in todays fast-paced world, cooking and eating healthful meals at home can seem challenging or even impossible. I know there are nights when the only option I have is to take food prepared on Sunday, heat it up, throw everyone in the car and proceed to practice or rehearsal. You’ve been there, haven’t you?
If you are like me however, the pace of life, electronic gadgets, and busyness have driven me to be more resolved, not less, to reserve most evenings for family time at the dining table eating a meal we prepared at home. I could give up but I’m just not that kind of person. When I set my mind to something, I make it happen. As a designer it’s my role to be a creative problem solver.
I’ve used my creative problem solving skills to come up with tips for designing spaces into your home in a way that supports eating and cooking together. When I work with clients, I keep my eyes open, see what works well and why it works well. I also sort through which ideas are universal, meaning they work well for most people. And which solutions are specific to a family and their schedule or personality. Today, I will share the most successful, and universal tips.
DESIGN A KITCHEN THAT SUPPORTS MULTIPLE USERS
There is a simple truth, cooking a meal is quicker if you have help. To make it easy you need to have a few separate work stations in your kitchen where others can set up a station to chop, clean, mix and help prepare the meal. If you have one, two or even three workstations that are out of the main work triangle your spouse, children or friends can easily help with auxiliary tasks like preparing salad.
Stationing a prep sink on an island or separate worktop is one great way to do this. Often we will have a breakfast or baking station in a kitchen plan that can be used to slice bread, prep drinks or work on a side dish or dressing during meal prep and function as that third station.
If you haven’t already heard, kids eat better and more healthfully when they help prepare the meal. I also think, time spent in the kitchen, is a time when you can chat easily about the day without formality.
GROW SOME FOOD AT HOME
You might be groaning...I know you already have enough to do. Now I am encouraging you to start a garden? Remember, I am a busy mother who runs here own business and I know that being able to grow some of their own food is good for kids. So I say, keep the scale of your garden simple. It could be just herbs outside the back door you can snip to add flavor to your favorite meal.
During the summer, we typically have a pot garden. Tomatoes, potatoes and herbs is all our family can responsibly handle. Our neighbors, on the other hand, are teachers who have lighter schedules in the summer and they have time to and enjoy tending corn, berries and carrots.
Whatever scale of garden is right for you, design it into your outdoor space, even if it’s just a deck. You may find, like I did that home grown potatoes, fresh out of the pot are surprisingly tastier than there store bought friends.
DESIGN A VARIETY OF DINING SPACES INTO YOUR HOME
As a culture, we like novelty, eating at home every day can seem humdrum. But don’t let it be! If you have a goal of eating at home more, make it into more of a unique experience.
If I could have the world, I would design into every home, a breakfast room, a dining room, a kitchen table (which can double as a prep table), a porch dining area, an outdoor dining area and a two top in at least two rooms for a dinner or snack and quiet conversation with just my husband. Yes, that’s right, the luxury of seven different places to take in a meal, in your very own home! If you are designing a new home, I highly recommend you consider putting each and every one of these spaces into it.
But not every home is large enough for this, so here are some strategies you can use.
Carve out a dining space within other rooms by using dual-purpose furniture. The game table becomes a small dining table for lunch. A drop leaf table can serve as both a sofa console and pull out for a diner party. An entry table can host a dinner for two. Just look for opportunities to create space for eating.
If you simply have only one dining space, invest in a variety of table top accessories, cloths and the like to change the character of the space from casual to formal, weekend to weekend!
DESIGN A KITCHEN YOU ENJOY
This may seem like a basic tip but often when I work with clients, they start with a “good enough” attitude or a “me too” attitude. Instead of considering the possibility of having a kitchen that makes their heart sing they focus only on the function of the space and work with finishes, cabinetry and fittings that they have seen before and consider good enough!
I say, even in your kitchen, stretch your comfort zone a little! Work to design a kitchen that expresses your personality and incorporates unique touches that feel just right to you! Whether you are traditional, classic, modern or contemporary, a custom touch can make the difference between a ho-hum space and a space you truly enjoy spending time in.