It’s no exaggeration to say that everyone in the family – yes, even the family dog! – passes through the kitchen at least once a day. No wonder it’s often considered the busiest part of a house.
For families with children, making the kitchen kid-friendly becomes a very important design decision. When you’re designing a kid-friendly kitchen, remember to put yourself in their shoes — identify what they need and which areas seem most likely to make them curious — then identify the hazards and danger zones that they may need to navigate. Here are a few tips on how to do just that.
This is an all-important consideration – you need a kitchen with enough space for kids to do their homework or just play without getting in your way. How large your kitchen should be will depend on a number of factors: how many kids you have, how old they are, and what they usually do there.
If you have preschoolers, for example, you may need ample play space. This can be as simple as a toy-filled drawer, for instance, or a corner cabinet full of toys and craft supplies. If you have teenagers, a table or counter with a nearby outlet where they can use a computer will likely suffice.
When planning the space, one thing to always keep in mind is that you should try and avoid flooring materials that become very slippery when wet. Textured yet resilient materials, like vinyl or cork, are better options.
THE PLAY ZONE
Once you’ve sized up your kids’ space needs, you need to make sure that they don’t overlap with critical kitchen work zones. Island-type kitchen setups are perfect, as they usually have at least one end that’s not in your work zone.
The island itself can be the main play or homework area while you use the range and sink mounted along the wall. Just remember to always round the corners on countertops and consider counter and chair heights. They should be short enough for a child to reach comfortably. Remember to keep knives, cleaning supplies, and small appliances out of their reach, though! Try and equip electrical sockets with child-safe covers as well.
Putting a microwave drawer at the far end of the island can also help keep your kids out of your hair. It’s well within their reach, so they can easily prepare whatever snacks they want themselves. If you’re uncomfortable letting them use a microwave by themselves, consider buying a warming drawer instead.
In the same vein, a mini-fridge or refrigerator drawer can also prove useful. Be sure to keep an eye on them while they’re using appliances, though.
THE WORK ZONE
There will be times when your kids enter your kitchen’s work zone, whether inadvertently or on purpose. That’s why you have to make sure that the materials and appliances are kid-safe as well.
Stain-resistant countertop surfaces are always ideal. Acrylic materials like Corian and Swanstone are good choices, especially considering the fact that they’re a touch softer than most countertop materials in case a glass or plate falls on them. It also comes in a wide range of colors and patterns.
Laminate countertops are also still popular. They’re cheap, durable, and come in all kinds of kid-friendly colors and patterns. As with Corian and Swanstone, laminate countertops are also softer than granite. They’re easy to clean, too, which can come in very handy – with kids around, there’s always a chance for anything from spilled grape juice to crazy glue to find their way to your countertops.
It may also be worth considering using kid-friendly cooking appliances for your kitchen. Appliances with child lockout settings will work wonders towards making your kitchen a kid-friendly place. If your play area is directly adjacent to the cooking area, for example, you might want to invest in an induction cooktop. Since only a small part of the induction cooktop heats up (and never when there’s no pot on it!), it minimizes the chances of your kid accidentally burning him or herself. For a regular cooktop, you can add stove guards that keep kids from touching the burners.
Hopefully this post helps you on your way towards making your kitchen safe for children of all ages.