Workflow planning – 4 steps to designing your kitchen for efficiency


Written by Mia

Jun 25, 2021 | 0 comments

I recently spoke to more than 20 homeowners – former clients, friends and family – about their kitchen design. Their feedback surprised me.

Most of them said their kitchens do not have the ideal balance between organisation, functionality and design. Either the kitchen looked great, but just didn’t cut it when it came to meal preparation. Or, it is functional but not aesthetically pleasing. 

Some even use a secondary kitchen for their cooking! 

When I asked if they ever considered redesigning their kitchens, they confessed to not knowing where to start.

You see, the kitchen is the most used space in the household and used by everyone in your family. Regardless of whether you have your own home or are renting, a kitchen that works for you is a must-have. 

It all starts with planning. 

Here are my 4 steps to designing your kitchen for maximum efficiency.  

Step 1: Identify typical kitchen tasks

For most of us this would include:

Meal prep

Cooking for the family

Cleaning the dishes

Whipping up a quick meal like brekkie

Step 2: Divide your kitchen into zones based on the tasks above

Storage zone

  • Non-consumables – Cutlery, dinnerware, glasses and mugs should be stored based on frequency of use
  • Consumables – Ingredients and spices

Preparation zone

Everything you need to prepare your food will be placed here (typically between cooking and cleaning). 

As a newlywed, I learned of the efficiencies of “mise en place” (meez on plas). This is French for having all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated, etc. before you start cooking. 

The utensils you’ll need at this stage must be within easy reach in drawers or cupboards. When everything is at hand, your cooking process flows seamlessly. 

Cooking zone 

This section centres on your cooktop and oven/grill. Also, within close proximity will be your microwave, slow cooker, rice cooker, kettle and Thermomix. Use the storage areas in this zone for all your cooking accessories (i.e., spoons, spatulas, tongs, pots, frying pans, cookware, trivet, and spices).

Serving zone

This is the area where you will store your serving ware, cutlery, utensils, and dinnerware. It should be closer to the meals area. I find that the breakfast bar or the peninsula to be the most suitable. 

Some areas can overlap or have a dual function, especially if you are pressed for space. For example: the preparation area can also be your serving area (provided you have been diligent with clearing the area during the cooking process).

Cleaning zone

This area is the bench space closest to the sink, rubbish bin and dishwasher.  This allows you to place the dirty dishes in the dishwasher (provided it is ready to be loaded) and to mitigate cleaning up a big mess after dinnertime. Ideally, you will have the cleaning agents stored in the cupboard beneath the sink. 

While these are the five most important zones, some of my clients also have a:

  • A coffee/tea zone
  • Baking area
  • Cocktail zone 

Step 3: Set up a smooth workflow

Contrary to popular belief that “bigger is better” for kitchens, I believe, a smooth workflow is possible in any sized kitchen. Once you’ve planned your kitchen into the 5 important work zones, set them up so that they flow as follows:

Step 4: Access, access, access 

Now that we know exactly how the kitchen is going to be laid out, optimise your storage spaces. Use your drawers and cupboards in a manner most conducive to the respective zone. 

Drawers are ergonomic and help save time from bending or kneeling in front of cupboards looking for things. Full-extension drawers help you access items stored right at the back. 

Also, store your items based on frequency of use, with most-used items stored at waist level. 

This might also be the time for you to upgrade your storage facilities with some swanky new pull-outs and lift systems! 

There you have it – my 4 steps to getting started with designing your kitchen for maximum efficiency. In my next piece, I’ll be focusing on one of the most important zones outlined above. Stay tuned. 

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