How easily can I prepare a meal in this kitchen?
The gorgeous cabinetry and exotic, natural stone countertops may look fabulous, but if you can’t cook with ease, you won’t be happy for long.
The best way to know if a given kitchen will work for you is to pantomime how you would fix a meal in it. If you and a partner frequently fix meals together, do the pantomime together. You will feel slightly ridiculous, but the information gained will be invaluable. For example, you may discover that the food preparation area is minuscule, or it’s too small for two people to work at the same time, or that you’ll need roller skates to get a meal ready because the kitchen is so big the sink and stove are 15 feet apart. For most people, these are big negatives. After you’ve gone through this routine in several kitchens, you’ll be able to size up most of them without going through the pantomime routine.
Is the counter arrangement optimal?
The pantomime routine may tell you that a kitchen is acceptable, but the layout is not great. The most efficient counter layout and the one preferred by professional chefs is a galley arrangement with one aisle and the sink and stove opposite each other. That way, you only have to turn around to go from one to the other. In newer kitchens, especially those in home builders’ furnished models, you’re more likely to have an island cooktop that is opposite the sink because most people think an island kitchen is “upscale and up-to-date.” This has almost the same advantages as the true galley, and it makes a kitchen feel more open. Just make sure that you have at least 15 inches of counter space on both sides of the cooktop. This will give you ample room for pot handles to overhang and enough space to put bowls, utensils, condiments and all the other things you typically use when you work at the stove.
To create an eating area with space for a table and chairs, the kitchen in a smaller house will have fewer cabinets and smaller counters, and this can make it harder to use.
Is this countertop material acceptable?
The suitability of a countertop material depends on the individual. If you are conscientious, wipe up spills right away and clean up after every meal, even when a dinner party runs really late, and you pull out a cutting board every time you are slicing and dicing, you will be happy with any material, even ones that stain and scratch easily.
But, if your M.O. in the kitchen runs towards the slapdash, you will be happier with something that is nearly foolproof — it won’t stain, and it’s nearly impossible to scratch. An engineered stone product such as Silestone, Zodiaq or Caesarstone, all of which look remarkably close to granite, is a sensible choice. Real granite can be very porous and stain easily. To reduce the porosity and increase stain resistance, granite must be sealed about once a year.