Kosher Kitchens 2: Ten of My Favorite Tips For Your Kosher Kitchen Makeover!
Last week we took inventory of what kitchen equipment you have for both meat and dairy. This was also a great opportunity to get rid of what was no longer useful and give away what you no longer use.
Now let’s talk about a kosher kitchen makeover beginning with function and then creative inspiration! Function is the number one watch word in kitchen design and number two on that list is ‘attention to the smallest (and sometimes largest and most ignored) details’. As an interior designer, I never want my clients to look at their newly designed kitchen after having invested so much time, effort and money and suddenly hit themselves in the head and say “how could we have forgotten to do… or to install…?” Read my 10 must-have list before you begin any kitchen makeover job!
1. Begin with the Bermuda triangle of all kitchens: the fridge, stove (stove and cooking range/hob) and sinks – where will you install each item, which items cannot be moved (it could be a sink due to plumbing issues, a stove due to gas pipe issues)? Think about whether you will install two separate sinks or a side-by-side all-in-one unit. Don’t forget to install a hook for a washing cup for each sink. Will you install more than one stove and/or cooking range (hob)?
Next add the dishwasher to the plan – or will you have two - one for meat and one for dairy? These should ideally be installed near their respective areas. Make sure there are or will plan to have appropriate electric outlets and water connections.
Next counter space – start with the assumption you will never have enough. While it is nice to think that meat and dairy will each get the same amount of counter space, you should decide which side requires more space. Do you cook more meat than dairy? Does the preparation of one require more space than the other?
2. Talk to your interior designer about counter top materials, the appropriate height and depth of counter for you and your needs. Do you want items on your counter top or hidden from view? While you can place mixers, blenders, etc. in ‘dead corners’, you may want to store them in bottom cabinets or go for a on-the-counter roll-down blind unit to hide them from sight but keep them in easy-reach on your counter. Think about installing a hot-pot area next to the stove/oven if your counter top is not heat resistant (a mistake!).
This is also the time to consider the backsplash. You will need some kind of backsplash across your kitchen from behind your sinks, in back of cooking range and around your counter. When choosing a backsplash consider how high or low maintenance it is and if it is all-purpose or do you need/want different backsplashes for different parts of the kitchen.
3. Electrical outlets around your countertop: once again assume you will never have enough. Consider the number of small electrical appliances you will use at any given time and where you will use them. Consider the best and safest locations of your blender, mixer, coffee maker, kettle and appropriately placed Shabbat items: Shabbat hot plate, Shabbat urn and perhaps even an electric chulent pot (crock pot).
4. Cabinets and drawers In this article I want to discuss the inside or “kishkes” of kitchen cabinets and drawers. On the market today you can find a never-ending selection of kishkes to fit any budget and any requirement. Before you begin the often confusing process of choosing the kishkes, begin with an inventory of what you have – remember the inventory you took in the last article, well now it’s time to make good use of all that information.
First let’s look at top and bottom cabinets. In general we store heavy items such as pots, pans, woks, all sorts of baking and roasting dishes in the bottom cabinets where it is easier for us to access them and place them safely on the counter top. Lighter items such as plates, bowls and glasses are generally stored in top cabinets. In either case bottom cabinets can be equipped with deep, easy-to-pull-out bottom drawers designed for dishes, as well as pots and pans. Consider what you need and what seems to be the most convenient for you and you needs. Go to kitchen showrooms to actually see and touch all the cabinet kishkes. Many times the cabinet kishkes increase the final price of a kitchen many fold, these are items you will buy only once during the life of a kitchen, so buy well and buy intelligently!
Bottom cabinets should also hold shallow drawers for silverware/flatware, knives, kitchen towels, pot holders and kitchen utensils such as ladles and the like; once again look at your inventory lists and your present drawers and think about how many drawers and for what items you will need for both meat and dairy.
Depending on your space, consider a pantry – this can be a bottom pull-out cabinet, a full top-to-bottom cabinet to hold any variety of – usually dry goods/canned items - including spices, canned goods, pasta and lentils, cereals, flour, sugar and so on. Depending on space this could also be a great place to store towels, tablecloths, pot holders and all the other non-cooking equipment items. This could also be a great place to store the Shabbat hot plate and Shabbat urn during the week.
5. And then there is the age-old question: To have an island or not to have an island. Ultimately the answer to this question rests on whether you have the space, the need and the budget for it. How will you use the island? As a breakfast table/bar? As extra workspace? For pareve baking/cooking? As a cook top? Whatever your decision - make sure you have enough room to move around your kitchen once it is installed. Want a great tip on how to really figure this out? Cut cardboard in roughly the shape and circumference of the work top and place it on a table/box in roughly the area you want to place the island. Now see how you and your family manoeuvre around this shape for a few days.
If you do decide to install an island consider building drawers and perhaps a shelf or two into the base of the island. Include space, under the island counter for a several chairs/bar stools (depending on how high the island counter top will be).
6. Don’t ignore ventilation, beginning with an over-the-stove hood and also depending on the size of your kitchen and the placement of your window; make sure your kitchen has enough ventilation to prevent cooking odours as well as to provide enough fresh air to create a pleasant living environment.
7. It always amazes me how proper lighting is so often overlooked when designing a kitchen. To get a better idea of where lighting is most needed – look at your workspaces/counter spaces, table and island areas. Remember you do not have to install the same lighting treatments for each of these areas; spots may be great in some areas while a wall fixture is perfect in another area and a hanging fixture in yet another corner. Consider the lighting purpose before you consider lighting treatments.
8. I don’t have to tell you that the kitchen floor is not just for standing on. It can add warmth, color and an overall feeling to your room. When selecting a floor consider its durability, ease-of-cleaning, ease-of-upkeep and safety (you don’t want a floor that will become too slippery when wet!).
9. I always say that a safe kitchen is a beautiful kitchen. Keep these safety points in mind: Make sure you have a fire extinguisher near your stove, consider counters with rounded edges to protect your children and look for cabinets with baby-proof doors or install them yourselves.
Check out Be'terem, a great safety site for the latest safety information:
10. Don’t forget these important points when designing a kosher kitchen (or any kitchen!):
A well-ventilated drawer/storage unit for root vegetables.
Place for a tablet/ipad holder.
Cookbook area: depending on how many cookbooks you own – a few or a library full – you want to keep them handy, neat and protected from water and heat sources.
Storage space for cleaning products, brooms, dustbins, garbage can and recycling bags. Make sure to keep all dangerous products out of the reach of children and pets.
A message board - great for keeping track of your shopping list, phone calls and the like. This can be a note pad and pen/pencil, a cork board and pins, a white board and markers – whatever works for you. Don’t forget to keep a calendar with candle lighting time handy as well!
Now that we’ve dealt with the practical, it’s time to enjoy some great kitchen style inspiration, take a gander at these lovelies:
Yael Diamond, Interior Designer and Project Manager, specializes in consulting, planning and designing private residences, elite apartments, offices, and public business. You can follow Yael on www.facebook.com/yaeldiamondesigns.