rising popularity of television cooking shows has upped the ante in
today’s residential kitchen design, with homeowners seeking kitchen
renovations fit for a professional chef. Yet designing a chef’s
kitchen is more about creating a highly functional space than a sleek
space crammed with the latest gadgets.
in love with cooking shows," says Michael Feker, executive chef and
owner of Il Mito restaurant in Wauwatosa. "Food has always been a
Feker, who often
consults on kitchen remodels, says the first thing homeowners need to do
is forget their fantasy chef’s kitchen. "Don’t work with an
image in mind," he says.
When working with
homeowners, Feker often asks about their favorite cooking style or the
cuisine they like to prepare best. "Knowing how you like to cook
helps set the stage," he says. "First you make it functional,
then you make it pretty."
Russ Waters, a
kitchen designer with Wisconsin Kitchen Mart, uses the same approach
when guiding homeowners through a renovation project. "I spend a
lot of time talking to my clients about how they cook," he says.
kitchen doesn’t have to come at a premium price. Feker always tells
his clients to work within their budget, even if that means working
within the footprint of your existing kitchen.
Nathan Wachtl, a
senior design consultant with SJ Janis Company, agrees that it’s not
how much space you have, but how you use it. "Size isn’t as much
an issue as how the kitchen is laid out," he says.
"Functionality is key."
standard work triangle of fridge, sink and stove is still practical,
Wachtl says the concept doesn’t always fit homeowners’ needs today.
"The kitchen is no longer just a utilitarian space," he
explains. "Having multiple zones creates more flexibility."
For even more
functionality, kitchen work zones can serve several purposes, like a
desk area for doing homework or paying bills or a kitchen island with
staggered heights, ideal for kid-assisted baking projects or a
buffet-style spread at social gatherings.
workhorse in any chef’s kitchen is counter space. "A lot of
counter space isn’t necessary; it just has to be useful," says
Feker. That means having adequate countertops to facilitate food
production, from washing, to prepping to serving.
islands are a huge feature in chef’s kitchens because they add a great
deal of functionality. "Kitchen islands are real multi-taskers,"
he says. "They’re ideal for prepping food while guests or family
members spread out and relax."
The material you
choose for your countertops is largely a matter of personal preference,
but at-home chefs may want to consider surfaces like quartz or
soapstone, which require minimal upkeep. "Low-maintenance materials
can still be beautiful and timeless," says Wachtl. "Plus they
ease the chore of cleaning up so you can have a happy cooking
If counter space
is crucial, storage is equally important, says Feker. "Your kitchen
storage needs to make sense," he says. That means a place for
everything and everything in its place. "Everything should be
easily accessible," says Feker. "Store ingredients where you
can see them, keep your pots and pans by the stove."
limit their storage options to cabinetry. Pot racks are a chef favorite,
and creative storage solutions like wall-mounted spice racks and
magnetic knife stripes leave countertops uncluttered.
Tools of the
another important aspect of a well-functioning chef’s kitchen.
proper appliances you’ll never be able to fully enjoy your
kitchen," says Feker.
But that doesn’t
mean you have to splurge on high-end professional-grade appliances.
While Feker’s restaurant kitchen is equipped with Sub-Zero and Wolf
appliances, he has a Kenmore refrigerator and dishwasher at home.
look at the name of the appliance, look at how it performs," says
and ranges with griddle tops are popular among chefs because of their
use griddle tops for more than cooking breakfast," says Wachtl.
"They’re also good for sautéing vegetables and can accommodate
kitchen tools should simplify your life so you can focus on what you
enjoy, like cooking and entertaining. Wall-mounted accessories like pot
fillers — a faucet mounted near the stovetop to fill large stockpots
— do just that.
space doesn’t have to mean limited functionality. Appliances like dual
fuel ranges, which can cook foods at two different temperatures
simultaneously, and hybrid convection oven/microwaves like the GE
Advantium speed up cooking without sacrificing quality.