The Unfitted Kitchen: Why Bother?
Sometimes we get so caught up in accepting how things are that we do not take some time to question if we're moving in the right direction. Technology has a way of pushing us forward, but occasionally we will need to take a break to discover what kind of advancement is the most suitable. By way of instance, when electricity came to New York City, there were layers of power lines attached to each of the buildings and electricity poles everywhere. If we look at the old images of Manhattan we can not believe how ugly it was, but to all the New Yorkers of this time, they never even noticed that the chaos. It took someone with only a lot of foresight to understand that burying all of the power lines underground was a much better thing to do.
Kitchen design which uses cabinetry has developed to the universally accepted method to make a kitchen. But in the past twenty years, designers began to ask the question,"Is cabinetry actually the'best' way for all design scenarios?" To answer this question, we must first find why'Why' shifting from cabinetry to something else would be beneficial. Hopefully, by demonstrating how kitchen design has evolved, you will start to find'Why' kitchen furniture can be a fantastic alternative to designing kitchens with cabinetry.
In the days before power changed everything in our lives, family kitchens in modestly sized houses were big but only appointed rooms. They comprised a solid fuel heat source for cooking (a fireplace or a coal or wood stove) and an integrated sink, without running water. Everything else was a bit of furniture. The icebox was made from wood, as were the fundamental dining/work dining table, cupboards, pie safes and pantries. The family was the fundamental work/social place of the house also where household members, sometimes in the company of friends performed most domestic chores and socialized with one another.
Electricity attracted many timesaving devices into the kitchen, in addition to many creations that pulled us away in the kitchen. Because of the inventions in the kitchen, fewer people were required to prepare meals, so the kitchen dropped lots of its social significance and became a smaller, super-efficient living space. Built-in cabinetry, formerly delegating just to Butler's pantries in bigger houses, now became the best way to shrink the kitchen into an efficient workspace. With more leisure time, interacting was assigned to the living areas of the home, since the kitchen was too small.
Now, present planning has opened the kitchen up to integrate the social rooms . New homes almost always have a breakfast/family space entirely in light of the kitchen. The Great Room concept is only a large social room with a kitchen in it. Walls between the kitchen and other rooms are being ripped down in older houses in the attempt to make multi-task, live-in kitchens. We've gone full circle, in a little over 100 years, by developing a modern version of a pre-electricity social/working kitchen.
Why has this occurred? There are too many reasons to list here, but they all appear to relate to time. With the maturation of both career families and single head-of-household households, there is not enough time in the day to dedicate a whole lot of it to cooking. Again, innovations (i.e., microwaves, pre-prepared and frozen foods) have enabled us to spend less time cooking throughout the workweek. And when we're cooking, we do not want to miss anything that's happening around us. On weekends, we can unwind in the kitchen/family area by watching TV or even amusing friends by cooking elaborate meals.
But typically, the kitchen section of the terrific room still looks like and is organized like the super efficient, work-only kitchen mentioned previously. It's lined with flat bands of countertops and cabinetry which are interrupted only by exposed hi-tech appliances. Designers promote this'lab' look as it's simple to design and it really is the only kitchen design theory which most people today understand. Most kitchen layouts are made by drawing a line 2 feet out from each wall (to indicate cabinetry) and if there's room, an island (the larger, the better) is attracted to work as a buffer between the kitchen and family room. The room's character is determined by the design of the backsplash, and it is dependent upon the colour uniformity of the cabinetry and appliances to maintain the design motif of the space intact.
On the other hand, the family room, or the social area of the great room is made in a very different way. Typically, a gorgeous empty room is made and then it's furnished. Rather than lining all the walls with horizontal rings of built-ins (and there are exceptions to this i.e. Frank Lloyd Wright's prairie houses ) the wall spaces are interrupted with vertical components like doors and windows or focal points like a fireplaces. The walls of this room are split into vertical sections instead of constant horizontal bands. At blank wall regions and at the center of the space, eclectic pieces of furniture produce seating arrangements, while the wall-hung art and sculptural collectibles on screen determine the area's personality. However, the wall, ceiling and floor colours and textures permeate between each one these vertical elements acting as the'glue' that holds the entire design theme together.
So the question is, why don't you make a multi-task, live-in contemporary open-plan kitchen/family space by furnishing it instead of installing cabinetry? Why not blend the kitchen to the family room utilizing vertical instead of horizontal layout? Why should half of the space appear to be a sterile lab, while the other half of the space is filled with all the personal touches that bring you comfort?
When designing furniture, spaces should be made between each piece that let the 3-D personality (3-D in that furniture is created with at least 3 completed sides) of each piece to be valued.
These spaces are important as they permit the design motif of the adjoining room to continue uninterrupted to the kitchen. The spaces permit the wall, ceiling and floor coverings (the architectural finishes) to immediately meld the kitchen and family room into one homogeneous space in a manner that's not possible to do with horizontally designed cabinetry. The spaces define the area's character and allow the furniture to become more diverse too, emulating the identical design techniques used in the design of their family room. No more must the kitchen have only 1 colour of wood, or a single door design or a single countertop material. The spaces allow all these components to change more easily. For a very clear example, consider an open-plan log home in which all of the inside walls are vulnerable logs. A furnished kitchen allows the logs to be viewed between each piece, which helps to unify the open-plan room whereas a horizontally designed cabinetry full kitchen covers up all of the logs. In an open-plan attic design in which the kitchen is always seen, a furnished kitchen can blend seamlessly into another casual seating groupings by allowing all of the architectural finishes to meander between each of the bits and hold everything together.
There are some simple design rules to consider when designing the individual pieces of furniture, but that's a topic for another time. There are other reasons'Why' to use furniture rather than cabinetry, like using it to emulate a particular style or period like the pre-electricity styled kitchen. However, it's in the modern open-plan kitchen where furniture can create its most universal effects. Will it replace cabinetry? Surely not, but for anybody who's involved with designing a kitchen job, properly designed furniture might be the most suitable design concept to use, one which is well worth the hassle!