Kitchen planning can be complicated at the best of times, but when you’ve got children running around, there are some additional things to consider. You’ll have extra safety issues to take into account, you’ll need to be prepared for a lot more mess, and you’ll also want to create a space where children can learn new skills as they grow. All this, plus you’ll want somewhere you can enjoy spending time together as a family. It is possible to develop a design that caters for all those needs, but you’ll need to take some time to plan carefully.
Be creative with colour
Children love bright colours, so why not make your kitchen look fun? White and other pale colours can be helpful when it comes to spotting dirt, but they’re not necessary on every surface, and a brightly coloured wall or two can give the whole room a lot more energy. You could try bright colours or illustrated tiles for your splashback, choose from new ranges of colourful appliances, or bring in chairs or stools in the same design but with different coloured seats – as long as you can stop your kids from fighting over the most popular one.
Love the light
A brightly lit kitchen is easier to clean, easier to work in and a lot more pleasant to be in, especially if the light is natural. Do away with curtains, which are risky in a kitchen anyway and will suffer from grease stains if you’re cooking properly, and check out The Shutter Store for an alternative that will let the sunshine come streaming in. For when it gets dark, have spotlights above your worktops for additional illumination where it’s most needed.
Make space for the family
The kitchen is a room where you’ll want to spend time together. If space is limited, a folding table or a breakfast bar can be a great dining solution. If you have plenty of space, some seating designed for small people is a great way to encourage your younger children to sit and watch and talk while you work in the kitchen, so they can see how things are done. A family noticeboard cements the kitchen as a centre of family life, and children will love adding their drawings, photographs and notes.
Keep cleaning easy
When you’re designing a kitchen with kids in mind, you might as well make life easy for yourself. The new generation of wipe-clean paints makes cleaning splatter off the walls a breeze. A sealed wooden floor or good old-fashioned linoleum is easy to mop when those inevitable spills occur, and if you’re worried about more serious damage, consider easily replaceable linoleum tiles. You should also aim to avoid clutter in your design – this could be a good time to rationalise your kitchen appliances by working out what you actually need and what can be disposed of.
Make space for pets
A house with kids is often a house with pets, and the most practical place to keep pet beds, food and litter trays is often the kitchen. That is much easier to do if you’ve designed your kitchen with a suitable nook in mind. Bear in mind that many pets successfully work out how to access their food, if not how to open it, and make sure you have a suitably secure place to store it. If you have a cat who comes in and out of the house through the kitchen, make sure there are no tiny spaces where it can leave unpleasant ‘gifts’ for you to find.
Kitchens are full of hazardous objects and substances which need to be kept away from children until they’re old enough to handle them responsibly. You’ll need a lockable cupboard for cleaning products and a lockable drawer for knives. It’s also a good idea to plan your kitchen design carefully so that appliances can be positioned close to power outlets to minimise the risk of trailing cables, and use clips to keep cables out of the way. Soft close drawers are also a good idea, reducing the risk that children will trap their fingers.
A well-planned kitchen is much safer for children, even when you can’t supervise them all the time. It’s also a happier place to be, especially when the kids have contributed their ideas to the design and feel that it’s their space too. At the heart of the home, the kitchen is a natural place to enjoy family time, so show it the love it deserves.