Small but efficient
Bharat Gandhi offers some design
tips for urban Indian kitchens
Good kitchen planning normally subscribes to the theory of the working triangle – storage area, preparation and washing area, and cooking area. If these are placed properly and are of adequate size, you will have a comfortable kitchen.
But this normally works in medium-sized or large kitchens. What if your kitchen is as small as a cupboard? I would recommend the following:
Do not have a door smaller than two-feet-six-inches in height. Why? Because a majority of gadgets are two feet in depth – like fridge and washing machine – and it will be impossible to take them in or out a smaller door.
If you have a door that opens inwards, switch it to an outward-opening door. If that is not possible, put in a sliding door.
If a sliding door too is not possible, install a bi-fold door. But the minimum opening has to be maintained at two-feet-six-inches. In a worst-case scenario, avoid having a door at all!
If you are the kind who closes the kitchen door while cooking, try a full glass-paneled door. You will feel less claustrophobic.
Whenever you buy an appliance, keep the limitations of your kitchen in mind. Try appliances that can be stacked one above the other – like a microwave oven on top of a front-loading washing machine, or a medium-height fridge with the mixer-grinder on top.
Small appliances can also be placed on wall-mounted shelves, or fixed in the opening of an extra window.
Non-cooking appliances need not be kept in the kitchen at all. For instance, a front-loading washing machine can be fixed below the wash-basin counter by raising the counter by six inches or so. The fridge can be kept in the dining area.
We Indians usually like to store a year’s supply of grain! Like, wheat in winter, cooking oil before monsoon and so on. This puts an extra burden on the kitchen. If you can’t avoid this, have tall cupboards up to the ceiling and store most of it at higher levels. Just take 30 days’ worth in a small box for regular use.
Fix shelves as per the size of the storage boxes. Do not waste any space above the boxes. This means you have to plan on having two or three standard box sizes.
If even after this your storage area falls short, move non-essential items elsewhere. Crockery can be housed near the dining table, rarely-used cooking utensil on the loft above the bathroom, extra grain boxes below the bed, etc.
There is variety in our meals. But this also means that more than one dish has to be prepared for each meal. And the problem is that you might run out of worktop space.
If possible, have a pullout drawer like an extended table, which can be pushed back under the platform.
For cooked food, have a trolley that can be pulled in and out of its allocated space, until you are ready to take it to the dining table.
One last alternative is to reduce the size of the sink.
We use water extensively in our kitchens. Keeping this in mind, the right materials are: worktop of black granite; vertical supports of medium quality marble; walls tiled from floor to ceiling; drawers and shutters made of teak (preferably old teak); and drawers with stainless steel bottoms.
Let your overhead storage space be built without ply back, to avoid giving insects a space to breed.
If possible have your kitchen in the southeast corner of your house. If that is not possible, don’t worry. Inside the kitchen, place your burners in the east or southeast and your drinking water in the northeast. This will give you at least 70 percent Vaastu compliance in your kitchen.