See Designing a healthy kitchen: Part 2 - Cooking & Furniture and Designing a healthy kitchen: Part 1 - the Table for more on this topic.
- Review the architectural layout of your house. Bring the kitchen-living room to its centre if you can. Room uses can be swapped. The biggest room on the ground floor is ideal as many of the living functions have been added to the kitchen. Choose one next to the garden, with French doors if possible, as this hugely increases its user friendliness.
- People tend to be happiest between 7-10 pm, according to surveys outlined by Richard Layard in his book, Happiness: Lessons from a New Science. Not coincidentally, this is the time the kitchen is most likely to be occupied. It’s an opportune time when human communication is hard wired, after work and before bed. If the kitchen environment is well designed, we can take advantage of this. As it is now a multipurpose space, we expand our natural sociability by installing a hearth, a second table for doing homework, or a perching point for chatting whilst doing a variety of kitchen tasks.
- The visual ‘ownership’ of the terrace or veranda immediately adjacent to the kitchen belongs to the kitchen but it needs to be designed so that it is highly functional and natural, almost wild in terms of plants, trees and shrubs. Space to eat at a table needs to be complimented by an area for chilling out with bean bags, and floor level living. A portable low level fireplace works wonders in the evening for sitting round, echoing a campfire experience. This is so rewarding and easily done by using an old drain cover raised off the deck.
- The design and décor can make the room feel like a comfortable and welcoming space, more akin to a living room than just a cooking zone. Food encourages us to cook, clean up and linger. A group of Harvard economists have created an economic theory that the rise in weight of Americans is inversely related to the time it takes to prep, cook, clean up, lay the table, etc. The more technology reduces food costs*, the more we eat and the less we feel bothered to cook and the more we snack. Reverse this and you have a virtuous, not vicious, circle.
* David M Cutler et al. “Why have Americans become more obese.” Journal of Economic Perspectives. Vol 17 No 3 (Summer 2003). pp 93-118.