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Ergonomics Are Transforming How Kitchens Are Designed

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Ergonomics Are Transforming How Kitchens Are Designed

Who would have thought that a science related to the movement of bodies in a work environment could transform the designs of home kitchens? Still, that’s not so surprising considering the amount of work done in the typical kitchen, as homemakers everywhere can attest.

Historically kitchens have been designed according to a principle known as the "work triangle." Basically this concept tries to set up a kitchen around the path from the refrigerator to where food is prepared to the stove or range where it’s cooked. These days, however, kitchen designers are taking a new approach, modeled after the workplace concept of "ergonomic workstations."

Rather than clustering functions around the familiar triangle, designers now create "zones" where actions happen, from preparing food, cooking, dining and cleaning up. These ideas have begun to revolutionize kitchens.

Instead of a countertop near the refrigerator, the trend today is to install a freestanding island where food is prepped for cooking. Often this island has a separate sink used only for food preparation. This arrangement helps to avoid cross-contamination of dishes with food germs. What’s more, the island provides additional storage space for all those gadgets that good cooks keep handy.

Kitchen designers also are focusing more on the flooring, which gets high amounts of traffic as well as supports the cook during food preparation. Linoleum and vinyl remain top choices in kitchen floor because they withstand spills and traffic while still being comfortable to stand on for long periods. Running a close second these days is wood coated with polyurethane. The coating protects the flooring from spills, while the wood adds comfort and good looks to the kitchen. Floors made from stone and terracotta tiles are popular in warm climates, and their good looks have made them more popular in northern regions. However, tile and stone tend to be much colder underfoot than wood, vinyl or linoleum, so area rugs should be used for warmth and comfort. These rugs often are decorated in patterns that reflect their kitchen environment, such as vegetables, fruit, grain, farm animals and other motifs.

Ergonomic change has also hit kitchen lighting. Instead of lots of overhead fixtures such as track lighting or fluorescent lights that can dazzle eyes or cast unhelpful shadows, designs now install several smaller lights that focus on specific work areas. Pendant lamps have come into vogue, and some kitchens even use small glass chandeliers.

Ergonomics also is playing a big role in the design and placement of storage space in the kitchen. Instead of having to twist and turn to get their pans out of awkwardly placed corner cabinets, cooks now can lift a pot down from an overhead hook, or pull out a sliding tray that requires much less heavy lifting. Cabinets are set at more reachable levels so that chefs don’t have to stretch up high or mount a dangerous step stool to reach the right-sized casserole dish. Many of these ergonomic cabinets also come with dividers to provide more organization to the vast array of kitchen utensils and gadgets that every self-respecting cook must have.

Crock pots are great for making crock pot breakfast recipes or dessert crock pot recipes on cold winter nights. Michelle suggests heading over to a-crock-cook.com for more fantastic recipes you can make in your own kitchen.

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