Family-Friendly Kitchens

Tips & Trends

For busy families, time is a hot commodity. The kitchen is often one of the most active places in the home, and any kind of customization that can save time and heighten convenience is of infinite value. Here, experts weigh in with ways for homeowners to maximize efficiency in their family kitchens. 

Juliet Braly headshotJuliet Braly, Juliet Braly Interior Design 

Busy families are looking for built-in convenience features in their kitchen cabinetry, such as cutlery dividers, specialized spice storage, and utensil pullouts to make prep work easier and quicker, but they also like a variety of flexible storage space. A combination of small drawers for gadgets and tools, large drawers for pots and pans, and adjustable shelves for small appliances and extra paper goods works well together. Small appliances like the Ninja Foodi and the Instant Pot, which can do double and triple duty, are becoming wildly popular, but since neither of these offer built-in models, making space for them at the cooks’ fingertips is paramount. Another feature that has stayed popular is the central island with seating for the whole family. When everyone can be together, Chef Mom or Dad can coach the kiddos through homework while whipping up dinner.  



David Ferry headshotDavid Ferry, Ferguson

For busy families that are always moving in different directions, a warming drawer can be an incredibly useful feature in their kitchens. If dinner is ready but your child is going to be home late from soccer practice, you can keep their food from getting cold in the meantime by storing it in a warming drawer. As far as kitchen appliances go, they’re sleek and don’t take up much room, and many of them come with convenient features such as various food pre-sets and an automatic shut-off for safety purposes. Some are even suitable for warming towels on chilly winter nights. Homeowners with active families and busy schedules will be happy to have such a handy addition to their kitchen space. 

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Carol MacKinnon headshotCarol MacKinnon, CKD, Ana Woodworks, LLC

Kitchens are often the focal point of a home, and it’s important to have a space that’s optimized for your busy family. A great feature for a family-friendly kitchen is a large central island, which is a multi-purpose piece that can serve as seating for a quick meal, extra space for an industrious home cook, or an opportunity for your kids to sit down and do homework while others are preparing a meal or doing the dishes. Additionally, a breakfast nook can be a convenient option for morning meals on-the-go before it’s time to leave for school. Another key feature that shouldn’t be left out is plenty of storage – spacious cabinets are vital for people who are always cooking big meals or hosting gatherings for family and friends.

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Jackie Howard headshotJackie Howard, Scarlett’s Cabinetry

The year 2021 has seen a lot of changes in the use of our kitchens – some families are even preparing all three meals a day due to working more from home. It truly has made the consumer pay more attention to their appliance selections when it comes to quality and speed. Steam ovens by Wolf and Thermador provide a very healthy and quick way to prepare fresh vegetables and fish. True convection ovens also reduce baking time, and GE has brought their Advantium Speed Oven back, with many improvements. Subzero refrigerator technology allows a head of lettuce to last up to three weeks! How awesome is it to have fresh vegetables on hand for weeks and not just days? Of course, choosing an experienced kitchen designer to ensure your appliances are carefully placed is the key to an efficient kitchen. Always make sure you include a secondary prep sink to encourage all the help a great chef deserves.  

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Nancy Hetem headshotNancy Hetem, Cross Cabinetry

The kitchen is the center of the house for many families. Something special that accommodates this is a large island with lots of seating spaces, all at one level. This way, homework and activities can be done at the same time as meal preparation. Another increasingly popular element is a charging drawer that features outlets at the back of the drawer, so that families can put all their devices in one place. The mudroom cabinet is usually very close to the kitchen and is a good organization spot for sports equipment storage, homework for the next day, coats, and shoes. A separate beverage refrigerator can also be handy for water and extra drinks, as not to fill up the regular refrigerator.

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Kris Keith headshotKris Keith, Classic Cabinetry

A true family-friendly kitchen is designed to accommodate the day-to-day family activities, not just the occasional large holiday gathering. For example, instead of a warming drawer that might get used a couple times a year, install a refrigerator drawer for bottled and canned beverages that will likely get used by your family on a daily basis. Other convenient custom cabinetry items like adjustable-height pantry roll-out shelves for kids’ snacks, a built-in cabinetry pet food station, built-in breakfast nook benches with storage drawers, or a coffee bar/station also focus on your family’s everyday needs. A good kitchen design incorporates the things you and your family do most often as the most convenient things in your kitchen.

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