Ergonomics or ‘work laws’ is the method of improving the design of any space or product and optimising it for human use.
If there is this one place in your house that’s always busy - it’s gotta be the kitchen!
In an average household kitchen, there are about 100 kitchen zone changes per day, up to 30 journeys to and from the table. Approximately 50 activities are carried out within the kitchen zones. Various appliances are used nearly 30 times each day. Doors drawers and pull-outs are opened and closed over 80 times (Yep… that’s how busy it gets).
It, therefore, needs good ergonomics to ensure that everyday cooking can become an effortless experience and does not create fatigue! Here’s what an ergonomic kitchen should essentially do!
1. Adapt 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 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. Ensure Good Work-Flow
The kitchen layout incorporates the kitchen work triangle – a time-tested concept that connects the three important work areas – the cooking range, the sink and the refrigerator.
The distance between these three areas is minimised and clutter-free so that one can easily multi-task between cooking, cleaning and food preparation!
3. Ensure Efficient 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 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. Appropriate Lighting For Each Work-Zone
There should be sufficient lighting to illuminate each work zone properly.
Let’s look at some of the steps you will need to follow for an ergonomic kitchen layout!
Steps To Achieve An Ergonomic Kitchen Design!
Here are some steps you can follow for a kitchen that’s ergonomically sound!
1. Ensure that the countertop is at the right height!
To get an ergonomic kitchen design, one should customise the height of the kitchen countertop as per the height of the user to prevent any kind of discomfort or strain to the back while cooking. The position of the elbow works as a reference point to determine the exact height of the countertop.
Ideally, the countertop should be around 4 inches below the elbow when standing!
2. Get the kitchen triangle right!
A work triangle connects three important spots in the kitchen – the refrigerator (storage zone), the sink (cleaning zone), and the cooktop (cooking zone).
It is essential to keep an optimum distance between these three areas so that one can move freely between each zone and work better.
How do you ensure this? Take a printout of your kitchen layout and draw a triangle connecting the cooktop, the sink and the refrigerator. Ideally, the length of each side of the triangle should range between 4-9 feet. The total length of all three sides of the triangle should be between 13-26 feet.
3. Make sure you have adequate drawers!
Install differently-sized drawers with organisers for your plates, cookware, and cutlery. Get pull-outs that open to their entire length, enabling a full view of their contents and allowing access to the stored items without too much bending.
4. Ensure required clearance heights!
To achieve an ergonomic kitchen layout, The depth of the overhead cabinets should be around 15 inches so that you don’t bump your head with these cabinets while cooking. Ensure that the minimum clearance or the distance between the countertop and the overhead cabinets is at least 2 feet.
Also, adjust the height of the microwave such that it is convenient to use and to take out hot food!
5. Install awning-style overhead cabinets!
Go for uplift-style overhead cabinets instead of cabinets with the classic hinged doors. The lift-up movement of the shutter is practical, easy to use and ensures better safety as it does not have the tendency to hit the head (a painful experience which many of us may have had when a hinged door opens too suddenly).
Additionally, a top-hung cabinet with this kind of shutter can be up to 3 feet 6 inches across, so you will have fewer cabinets to deal with and can organise better with more space in a single cabinet.
6. Go for single-layer storage!
In an ergonomic kitchen design, consumables should ideally be stored in a way where they are all easily accessible.
Note that, the tall unit should always be placed at one end of the kitchen so that it does not break the continuity of the kitchen countertop!
7. Go for corner units!
Convert the inaccessible corners of L-shaped and U-shaped kitchens into functional space. Introduce modular accessories, to optimise storage in the corners and allow easy access to the utensils kept there.
8. Ensure sufficient lighting for your work zones!
It is essential to provide good lighting and illuminate all your work zones properly!
The overall general lighting should be adequate and centrally placed.
Install task lighting above your cooktop so that there is ample light while cooking.
Use LED down-lights or strip-lights underneath wall-mounted overhead cabinets to brighten the countertop where all the basic food preparation is done.
9. Bunch the electrical appliances together!
Electrical appliances are not used all the time, so there is no need for them to take up precious counter space. Group things like toasters, juicers and blenders keep them within a single large cabinet instead of keeping them on the countertop. This is a great solution to creating an organised and clutter-free space in the kitchen.
Having an ergonomic kitchen will reduce the physical and mental stress of handling day-to-day kitchen activities!
If you want to get your home done up, get in touch with Hipcouch today!