For the last few centuries, kitchens were constructed as far away from a family's living quarters as possible. In larger homes, kitchens were often completely separate from the house itself.
Today, however, the kitchen has become the heart of the modern home, the meeting place where families do a great deal of their day-to-day living.
A recent study conducted by Electrolux Group found that:
- The typical family of five spends 175 hours in the kitchen each month, but only 31 hours in the living room.
- Many homeowners, builders and renovators are now bringing casual family living into the kitchen, creating "kitchen great rooms."
In a well-designed kitchen great room, the kids can do their homework on a computer that also hosts the family's online calendar, and the fireplace and TV can be enjoyed while parents cook.
A kitchen great room allows meal prep to become a true family affair. More than just an eat-in kitchen, the best kitchen great rooms bring together a functional kitchen with a truly comfortable living space.
The key to designing a kitchen great room that serves its purpose is organization, and the best of these multipurpose rooms are created with casual but defined "activity zones," including:
- cooking and food prep.
- storage and dishwashing.
- informal dining.
- studying, crafts and family activities.
- relaxing and enjoying media entertainment.
Unity is another important element of successful great-room design. Repeating elements such as flooring, light fixtures, cabinetry and trim throughout all the activity zones give a kitchen great room a cohesive look.
Bringing electronic media into the kitchen can also make it more family-friendly. Converting one end of a counter into a computer desk or installing a flat-screen TV in the kitchen means that more activities will be centered there.