From soccer practice and PTA meetings to sleepovers at friends’ houses and work obligations, today’s families are constantly spinning off in different directions. But despite all of these obstacles to togetherness, there’s one place where families still congregate: the kitchen. So why not make yours as comfortable, livable and inviting as possible? Let’s count down a few ways to transform your kitchen from a space that’s not just about cooking, but also about connecting.
1. Create a Kids Zone in the Kitchen
Let’s face it: moms are often stuck in the kitchen while kids roam freely throughout the house. Whether you want them under your watchful eye or simply crave their company, the simplest way to draw kids to the kitchen is to give them spaces of their own.
Adding stools to the side of the kitchen counter or island opposite your work zone is an easy yet effective way to create room for kids and teens to do homework, play, snack and just hang out. The best part? When they’re not in use, stools can be tucked under the overhang for a tidy aesthetic.
Just make sure to include one thing all of today’s wired wee ones need: adequate outlets for laptops, iTouches, iPads, cell phones, and other must-have electronic devices.
2. Encourage Access
While the idea of being surrounded by your happy, busting brood is delightful in theory, in reality this scenario can quickly go south. Why? Because in addition to being loveable, kids are also demanding. Near-endless requests for everything from cups of milk to snacks from the fridge can make getting anything done a challenge. Unless you help them help themselves, that is.
Shallow base cabinets stocked with kid-friendly plates and glasses; refrigerator drawers loaded with healthy, appetizing after school snacks; and a handy microwave drawer all mean dinner prep can continue without a hitch.
3. Fuse Style and Substance in the Kitchen
That all-white kitchen you’ve always fantasized about may have to wait until your kids head off to college. In the meantime, seek out materials which satisfy your style without sacrificing durability.
Quartz countertops are not only essentially maintenance-free, but are also resistant to just about everything — we’re talking stains, scratches, heat, acid and impact. And because quartz is available in a huge range of colors and patterns, you’re sure to find a look you love.
Perennial homeowner favorite granite, meanwhile, merges a high-end look with equally high-performance. Because let’s face it: Spills happen, and when they do — wouldn’t you prefer something that wipes up quickly and leaves no evidence behind?
The same concept applies to upholstery. In addition to the usual suspects like vinyl, cotton and microfiber, outdoor and all-weather fabrics are not only available in a multitude of patterns and colors, but also offer extreme durability.
Can’t bear to part with that pastel-hued leather banquette from your single days? We’ve got two words for you: Slipcover it.
4. Make the Kitchen Multi-Purpose
Today’s open living designs eschew conventional ideas about what should take place where. After all, life is dynamic and fluid, so why should your kitchen be fussy and stagnant? Rather than thinking of the kitchen solely as a place to eat, reframe it as all-purpose room. Comfortable furniture, inviting fabrics and warm lighting add up to a softer space where people will actually want to spend time.
One final way to get bodies in the kitchen? Add a television. While this may not initially complement your vision of the picture-perfect magazine kitchen, consider this: According to a recent report from the U.K., the average mom spends 1,117 days of their lives in the kitchen over the course of her lifetime. That’s three whole years! When you think about it that way, why shouldn’t you have something to help you pass the time?
If the thought of having a television in your kitchen still makes you cringe, the latest breed of innovative television-camouflaging cabinets offer a potential solution.
5. Organize and Optimize
Anyone who’s ever fought the losing battle of clean kitchen versus constant influx of backpacks, permission slips, schoolbooks, jackets, tools, projects, and sports gear knows how quickly chaos descends without proper organizational mechanisms in place. Taking control means integrating ample storage in the form of cubbies, hooks, and shelving so that there’s a place for everything aside from your floor and countertops.
One other organizational tool for today’s busy households? Blackboards. Ideal for everything from jotting down reminders to sharing inspirational quotes to posting the evening’s menu, blackboards are the perfect combination of fun and functional. Plus, your kids will love adding their own creative touches.
Ultimately, while the kitchen is the heart of any home, the people who populate it are what keep it beating. Incorporating these five tips into your kitchen design supports its status as a vital space which can easily keep pace with the fast-paced rhythm of modern family living.