The kitchen is so often the center of home activity, and it’s even more so when there are kids around. But setting up a space that can handle everything from homework and play dough to family dinner takes a little thinking. Here are 12 ideas for designing and organizing your kitchen to make it the bustling but not chaotic (at least most of the time) hub of family life you want it to be.
1. Half wall: Carving out a half- or third-height wall will give you the easy flow of an open-plan space without giving up much storage.
2. Barn-door cabinets: If you are tired of walking into the kitchen to see every single cabinet door flung wide open, perhaps it’s time to ditch the doors. Barn-style sliding doors are the perfect compromise between traditional doors and open shelving — they let you hide the mess but leave some things open and airy.
3. Easy-care surfaces: Marble counters are gorgeous, but they stain. Avoid tile, or if you must have tile, choose forgiving dark grout rather than white. Stainless steel, Corian and engineered quartz are great, tough countertop materials; butcher block is great too, if you can embrace the inevitable scratches as part of the charm. Classic linoleum and Marmoleum floors are easy to maintain; wood is fairly easy too, although spills should be wiped up right away.
5. Family bulletin board: Make a place for kids’ artwork, family snapshots and party invites on a bulletin board in the kitchen.
6. Recipe door: If you have a family-favorite recipe, why not make it official? Use permanent marker to write it out on the inside or outside of a cabinet, and you’ll never need to go hunting for Grandma’s recipe for scrumptious blueberry cake again.
7. Visible, consistent storage: Cut down on calls of “Where is the … ?” by storing the most frequently used food and supplies in pullout drawers, wire baskets and open-top bins.
8. Helping stool: No kitchen with kids should be without a helping stool — make sure yours is tall enough to let your smallest child reach the sink for hand washing.
11. Comfy seating: If you have the room, include a cushy armchair or loveseat — people love hanging out in the kitchen, and this just makes it more appealing.
12. Homework zone: If your kids end up doing homework in the kitchen, it can be helpful to carve out a dedicated spot for schoolwork and supplies.