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What Makes an Award-Winning Kitchen?

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What Makes an Award-Winning Kitchen?

A good kitchen should have these four qualities: Functionality, Connected, Ample Storage. and Joy

September 29, 2021
Kitchen with island connected to dining area
Photo: courtesy Housing Design Matters

It’s not just beauty that wins the prize.

Deryl Patterson, of Housing Design Matters, is also vice chair of the Best in American Living Awards and is in the midst of judging almost 400 entries for these honors, which will be announced in November. Among the 50 award categories is kitchens. So what is her criteria for a good kitchen: functionality, connected, ample storage, and joy. 

First and foremost, a kitchen should be functional. That means certain appliances should have adjacencies; sink to dishwasher, cooktop to oven, refrigerator to – well, everything! We used to talk about the kitchen work “triangle”, which only considered the sink, range, and refrigerator. It also only considered one person working in the kitchen. Today’s functional kitchen should acknowledge the reality that multiple people are in the kitchen while meals are being prepared. If you’re lucky, those additional people are helping in the preparation. But in some cases, those extra people are in and out to grab a snack from the pantry or drink from the refrigerator.

In today’s working families, meal prep often gets compressed, requiring all hands-on deck to deliver the evening meal. Is it possible for one family member to unload the dishes from the dishwasher while another opens the oven door? Or will the oven and dishwasher doors clash when they are both open? Can you walk past an open dishwasher door with a pot of hot pasta water on the way to the sink? This is why we like to show the outline of all kitchen appliance doors open on our design drawings. It can be enlightening.

What separates a great kitchen from a good one? This is where an architect and interior designer really come into play – whether it is maximizing light, creating a layout that encourages collaboration, or putting together thoughtfully curated colors and materials. I believe the person or persons who prepare our food deserve a beautiful place to do it.

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