Don’t get me wrong. Both the bench space and cupboard space are very important. When I am with the clients designing their kitchen, they often focus on cupboard space. They always want plenty of cupboard space to load up on all the gears and nic nacs that are sold to us as a ‘must-have’ to make their life easier in the kitchen.
So when the client and I are faced with a small area to fit the kitchen, something has to give. I always suggest sacrificing cupboard space over bench space. I ask them to think about all the small restaurants and food vans in the world and look at their tiny kitchens and the lack of cupboard space. All these tiny commercial kitchens concentrate on the bench space, not the cupboard space, as the bench is where all the work is done and the numerous meals that are prepared and served up from this small area.
With the cupboard space, you can always adapt or create more cupboard space by looking hard at what you are putting in them, and being totally honest with yourself as to what you really need. Do you actually need six chopping boards when three will do? Do you need all those special knives designed for one purpose? Have you seen what a Japanese chef can do with a meat cleaver from slicing fine sashimi to cutting the toughest meat and even cutting vegetables with fine and intricate designs, all with one knife?
By having a good look at all your belongings in the kitchen and being honest with yourself, you will adapt to your new cupboard space in your new Rod’s kitchen design.
With the bench space, what you have got in your new kitchen design is what you are stuck with. You can’t create more bench space, so what do you do? As I said previously, you must be honest with yourself, for example, if you don’t use your oven every day, why not use an under bench oven. For sure, you have to bend down to use it, but if you only use the oven two to three times a week, it is a small sacrifice for the luxury of having the use of at least 600mm of extra bench space.
As with the sink, do you really need two large bowls and two draining trays like your grandmother used to have in the old days before dishwashers? One and a half bowls with one drip tray will give you 450mm extra bench space. Lifting the microwave off the bench and putting it in an overhead cupboard, or under the bench, will gain another 600mm of valuable bench space.
Appliance cupboards with roller or bi-folding doors take up valuable bench space as well. I suggest that you buy yourself a beautiful kettle and leave it on the bench for all to see. Put your toaster away in a nearby cupboard to free up more bench space and create that lovely open space look.
I hope this will give you some food for thought about ‘bench space vs. cupboard space’.