The kitchen is only as good as your ability to use it. There have been many kitchens I have seen that look good but when you actually analyze how one would use it, they are very inadequate. This is usually because there is not enough countertop area to prepare a meal, or if there is a decent amount of countertop space, it is in all the wrong places.
For a kitchen to truly function well there needs to be several areas of countertop throughout the kitchen. One of the greatest errors I have seen is putting the cook surface right beside a wall or other barrier. Not only does this create a fire hazard, it creates other risks of injury because a hot pan must be moved over other pots and pans to get to a landing surface. This is also a problem if there is no landing surface near the oven (most often a problem with double ovens). There should be landing surfaces (or countertop areas) adjacent to both sides of every cooktop and at least one directly to the side of ovens. I have seen many ovens that are placed inside alcoves or other recesses creating a very appealing look. When the kitchen is installed and completed, the homeowner loves the look . . . until they have to carry a 20 pound, fully cooked turkey from the oven while trying to avoid all the extra corners and walk to the other side of the kitchen to a countertop large enough to hold the oversized pan. This usually results in copious amounts of ointment being applied to multiple burns.
Landing surfaces are crucial for each appliance and fixture. At the sink it is more convenient to have a surface on each side to make clean-up easier. The refrigerator should have a surface on the handle side. This is a little more difficult to do with a side-by-side refrigerator, but should still have an area nearby (even directly across) so groceries can be more easily transferred to and from the refrigerator. The microwave is often forgotten and should have an area adjacent similar to ovens. More on microwaves will be discussed in a future post.
The long and short of landing surfaces is they should be present for every fixture in the kitchen and should be large enough to be useful. Don’t scrimp on countertops. You’ll be glad it’s there – at least during Thanksgiving.