A helpful idea that not many know of, is to put countertops of varying heights in the kitchen – a lower counter for food prep, slicing and chopping vegetables, a standard height countertop and a counter of bar height, to either keep foods before serving or just a place that guests can perch on.
Ergonomics analyses the relationship between the human body and the objects we use and the spaces we live and work in, in order to optimise movements and avoid unnatural postures that could be harmful to our health. In the home, the kitchen is one of the areas that most benefits from ergonomics.
Ergonomics or ‘work laws’ is the method of improving the design of any space or product and optimising it for human use. The main aim of an ergonomic space is to create an environment that is stress-free, comfortable for working and ensures least waste of time and energy.
In our homes, the kitchen is one such area that requires good ergonomics so that everyday cooking can become an effortless experience and does not create fatigue. This can be achieved by preventing unnecessary bending, twisting or turning to reach out for things in the kitchen.
1. Adapts to the user
Ergonomic kitchens are designed to adapt to the user and not vice-versa. For example, the height of the countertop is customised and tailor-made to suit the height of the actual user (in case they are taller or shorter than average).
This allows one to comfortably prepare the meals and prevent exertion or strain on the back, by not forcing the body to adapt to the standard countertop height.
2. Ensures good work-flow
The kitchen layout incorporates the kitchen work triangle – a time-tested concept that connects the three important work areas – the Cooktop, Sink and Refrigerator.
The distance between these three areas is minimised and unobstructed so that one can easily multi-task between cooking, cleaning and food preparation.
3. Systematic utensil storage
In an ergonomic kitchen, utensils are stored in differently-sized cabinets and sectional drawers as per their sizes.
Most drawers come with pull-outs so that everything can be viewed and accessed without bending too much or reaching out deep within the cabinets.
Additionally, the end corners of G-shaped, C-shaped, U-shaped or L-shaped kitchens that are inaccessible due to the cabinet’s depth are converted into functional space with special modular accessories.
4. Organised storage for consumables
The cooking supplies and consumables should be stored in single layered drawers or racks within cabinets so that everything is visible in one go and there is no difficulty in searching for the ingredients.
To ensure easy access, it is also important to segregate the consumables as per their sizes and stack them neatly such that no item is behind or beneath the other.
5. Sufficient lighting for each work-zone
There should be sufficient lighting to illuminate each work zone properly.
The overall general lighting of the kitchen should be bright with centrally placed ceiling mounted lights or pendant lights.
There should be task (concentrated) lighting just above the cooktop for cooking.
The overhead cabinetry is projected, hence it casts shadows on the countertop which makes it difficult to see. It is essential to introduce focused lighting on the countertop with LED strip lights under the wall-mounted cabinets for food preparation.
6. Swap cupboards for drawers
Instead of ferreting inside dark cupboards looking for a lost utensil, it makes sense to simply open a drawer and see its contents at a glance. Drawers are ideal for storing anything from pots and pans to plates and perishables, just opt for maximum weight bearing systems.
Compare everything from a standard drawer organizer to expandable cutlery trays; a silverware drawer organizer protects flatware and makes it easy to set the table. Use kitchen drawer dividers to customize your drawers and segregate items such as cutlery, serving pieces and gadgets; a utensil organizer is ideal for multiple kitchen tools. Choose from adjustable drawer dividers, expandable gadget trays, cutlery organizers, silverware trays, in drawer knife mats, in drawer spice organizers, flatware storage trays, acrylic knife organizers, drawer organizations bins, expandable drawer organizers, spice drawer inserts, customizable drawer kits and more.
7. Clever solutions for tricky corner cabinets
Gone are the days of stretching into deep corner cupboards, thanks to carousels that spin internal shelves around like a lazy Susan or systems such as the LeMans, which swing the contents of your corner cupboards into the kitchen.
It will also minimise the risk of injury resulting from stretching too much trying to get at a utensil in the back or bumping one’s head against the underside of the counter while reaching in to retrieve an item. Nowadays, one can find several innovative ideas for corner cabinets. These include pull-out systems, pivoting mechanisms and more that can help to organise the space better.
8. The dimensions between your tap and sink matter
We’ve all had the infuriating experience of turning on the kitchen tap only to be sprayed with water.
Splash back is a common issue, and one that results from a poor relationship between your water pressure and the dimensions of your mixer and sink.
While there is no single solution to fit every kitchen, if you don’t want to wear your water think twice before pairing a deep sink with a high arched spout, or choosing a short sink and a long tap. This spring-loaded swivel mixer stands tall at 700 millimetres, though the low spout ensures minimal splash back. The kitchen corner is often the toughest space to utilize, whether its inside the cabinets or on top of the counter. A corner kitchen sink/wash casket, though often more expensive than a straight one, can be a good way to utilise the corner. Corner kitchen sinks/wash casket are now being easily available. Corner kitchen sinks/wash casket also add a unique visual appeal to your kitchen.
9. Add a sprung floor… and some comfort
With the amount of time we spend standing up in the kitchen, the ergonomic benefits of a sprung floor cannot be ignored.
Add some other creature comforts while you’re at it to make your kitchen a joy to cook in: music, some seating, plants and potted herbs… did someone say wine fridge ?
10. Install the microwave in cabinetry
Ideally, a microwave should be high enough for a tall person to conveniently use and low enough to let a short person easily remove hot food.
Placing it over the range is not recommended. This location not only forces you to reach over a hot range, but it’s also often too far for a short person to safely reach.