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4 work zones to make your kitchen the heart of your home

The latest kitchens no longer rely on the famous "kitchen triangle" for maximum functionality. Patricia Davis Brown shows you how clean up, prep, seating and communications zones can truly transform your kitchen into the heart of your home.

The days of the old-fashioned kitchen triangle design have diminished like the horse and buggy with the introduction of the automobile. Kitchens of today are open--and in many cases larger than they were in years past. Most of the kitchen remodels I do call for the removal of a wall, which opens up the kitchen to an adjacent space. Kitchens are truly designed to be the heart of the home. We don't just cook family dinners in them--we do homework projects with the kids and entertain our party guests. Many kitchens now have a computer where recipes are stored and grocery lists compiled. Your new kitchen should be planned to fit your family's lifestyle.

Kitchen zones for the way you live

So, just how many activity zones can you have in a kitchen? The five major zones of today's kitchen design are clean up, cooking, prep, seating and communications center, but you can have as many as you need. Consider these four zones in your new kitchen design:

1. The clean up zone has become so efficient. It's not your mother's kitchen sink anymore. There are so many style options to choose from--single bowl, double bowl, under-counter, over-mount and farmhouse, just to name a few. Along with styles to choose from you have all kinds of materials: stone, stainless, porcelain, enamel, hammered copper and more. To determine which style is right for you, you need to first evaluate a few things. The first is how much room you have for your sink. If you are in a small apartment and space is tight, you might consider a large single bowl. The single bowl would fit into a 33-inch cabinet or smaller and still offer enough room to wash large pots. If you have a large space for your clean up zone then you might even consider a large chef sink. The chef sink is one of my favorite designs. Not only is it a clean up sink, but it also functions as a prep sink as well.

2. The prep zone should be near a sink and have plenty of space to spread out and work. You want to consider the countertop material because it is where you will be slicing and dicing, or perhaps baking. The prep area can be on an island or a counter and both within a couple of steps to the cooking surface. You will want to equip the area with all that you would need to do the task, which would mean accessories in drawers and cabinets for optimal efficiency. The clean up and prep zones are not an option in a kitchen, they are a must.

3. The seating zone would be an option, depending on how you live and want to work in your kitchen. It is what I refer to as customizing your kitchen to work for you. Do you want a social gathering area for people to talk to you while you are working in the kitchen? Do you want a place to sit and eat in the kitchen? If your answer is "yes," then you can move on to the design of the seating area. You can sit at bar height, table height (which would give you two heights at your island) or kitchen counter height, keeping the counters level. Changing heights gives you the ability to change the countertop material for each, adding an exclamation point to the design.

4. The communications center has become a staple in most kitchens today. The kitchen has evolved into an open space where we multi-task. Having a computer nearby allows you to utilize the Internet as a support resource or to access favorite recipe files, watch a streaming video of a cooking technique or put together a dinner menu and seating plan for your party. When I design a new kitchen, I plan for the both the latest and future technology. You definitely want to consider a communications zone to stay current and not date your new design.

Along with the cooking zone, these are the zones you want to think about before starting your new kitchen design. As I always say, "Fail to plan, plan to fail." Remember to work with licensed professionals to get the best results possible and enjoy relaxed remodeling!