Monday, April 30, 2012

Kitchens (8 of 8): Cooktops and Ovens

At first glance it doesn’t seem that there is much to discuss regarding cooktops and ovens.  The only thing to consider is finding the one you like and all is done!  Not true. 

With all the advancements of technology and energy efficiency the basics of safety seem too often to be neglected.  This neglect begins at the manufacturing plant and continues through kitchen design and installation.

So let’s first consider the safety of the appliance itself.  When electric ranges were first developed they were made with a tall back panel that had all the knobs, etc.  Coming from an age of wood burning stoves this was a huge improvement.  But we are beyond that now and the appliance with the controls behind the burners is something that should be done away with entirely.  Scalding from bubbling and boiling pots and splatter from crisping bacon can be more easily avoided by selecting an appliance with the controls to the side or on the front.  This is available in both knobs and electronic touch panels so there is no excuse to select an archaic appliance with the controls in the most dangerous position.  Also the tall backsplash appliance is just hideous and should be shunned on aesthetics alone!

Now we can move on to other matters.  It should go without saying that the cooktop is a very hot place.  So naturally we want to place it right next to the wood pantry cabinet or wall.  YIKES!!!  I understand that some kitchens have been designed this way and it may be very costly to move the appliance to another, safer location.  Do not fret!  If you cannot move your appliance for whatever reason, then you should cover the adjacent combustible surface with something non-combustible (i.e. tile).  But let it be known that the cooktop, with its potential for fire, should be placed away from any vertical surface directly to either side.

Ovens are another concern to consider.  If your oven is part of your cooktop then the location is taken care of if you have placed your cooktop properly.  The main thing to consider when designing the location for your oven is landing surfaces.  When you are lugging a fully cooked 20 pound turkey, the last thing you want to do is test your physical prowess by traipsing to the other side of your kitchen to reach the nearest landing surface.  Modern design is to create a visually appealing place for your double ovens inside their own little niche.  Although this may look cool, you will be cursing your designer once Thanksgiving comes around.  So plan for immediate landing surfaces directly to the side of your ovens.  You will be a very happy and safe cook if you do.

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