Are you wanting to create a work area within your new kitchen so that you can keep an eye on kids homework?

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  • Author Susan Pitters
  • Published June 5, 2009
  • Word count 901

Designers report that it is becoming increasingly popular to incorporate a

space to work at complete with computer, in the kitchen of the average home. Most families don't

have the space for a complete office to be fitted, but many are wanting to be able to watch children do

homework and surf the net, and for you to keep an eye on them, answer the telephone, pay bills and write

the next day's shopping list. All in the hub of the home - the kitchen.

It has therefore become a challenge for designers to work out ways in which to accommodate an area that

will perform these functions.

If you are contemplating designing a kitchen yourself, you will first need to decide what activities you want

to do there, and who will be using the space allotted. Although different for every member of the family,

it is necessary to establish how many people will be using the computer at once, for example, so that sitting

room can be allowed. (Children often access the computer in two's or threes!)

When deciding exactly where to place the office area, try not to interfere with the traffic flow in the kitchen.

Also avoid being near heat and water. Imagine where the seating will be when people at the 'desk' are using it, and

make enough space around this area to move.

Start with positioning the 'desk' which should be least least 40-42 inches long in order to work at

comfortably. Kids need space to spread out their homework books. The work surface may be part of the cabinetry

plan you have for the rest of the kitchen and integrated fully into it, or it may be made of a contrasting

material or color in order to define the area better. If space is limited, think about making it the same as

the kitchen proper. Then, if and when you need space to stack the dinner plates or leave a pie to cool, you can

spill over from the kitchen onto the worktops here, quite seamlessly and naturally.

Design the space under the desk so that you have at least two cabinets or cupboards that can easily store the

computer 'tower', providing enough height and depth, and adequate ventilation. Make sure that the desktop / work

surface has a cavity for running cables and leads down through it to the tower, and that there is a power point

close by inside the cabinet. The power cables should be run through hollow plastic channels or wire trenches

for aesthetics, safety and to avoid wires getting tangled up.

Above the work surface you should have at least two sets of power points to support your telephone, printer, fax machine, charger,

and whatever other device you want to be able to keep here. If the work surface isn't long, have cabinets above it

starting at a level at which you won't bump your head every time you lean forward to sit down, and rising to an

aesthetically pleasing height. (Look at the height in line with your other wall cabinets and see how it all

looks together). You can use these cabinets for paper, supplies, equipment, office filing systems and any other

office related business.

Alternatively, you could use the wall cabinetry to house the computer tower and printer, fax and power sources,

while using the lower cabinets for paper and filing. It is sensible to decide what will work best in

an ergonomic way for you.

The height of the 'desk' or work surface is really important. Match this to your height and the type of seating

that you will use to work there... especially if you will be sitting for extended periods of time. The standard desk

height is about 29-30 inches. But you would be very wise to add a slide-out drawer under the desk top so that you

can hide the keyboard and mouse when not in use. Not only will this help in the integrated, seamless look

that you may be striving for in the kitchen, but it will keep things tidy and clean.

The chair or stool you choose for the desk should be suited to your needs. A good idea is to get a swivel chair that

is the right shape and form for desk work. It could be a gas-lift chair so that different people can use it equally

comfortably. Make sure that it is comfortable and easy to move away out of the kitchen when you want to.

Lighting is very important. General lighting won't be adequate over a work surface, so you will need to install

some sort of task lighting. This could take the form of under cabinet recessed halogen 'downlights' above the

work surface, and in front of the person working. Or you could use a small fluorescent bar light, set under the

cabinets. Another option is a pendant lamp hung over the work surface. The lighting should also be glare-free.

Shadows and glare on the computer can easily be avoided with some planning.

Shelving above the middle part of the desk top can be very useful. You can use it to place photographs, to

showcase special items, or use it for books. If not office books, then cookery books.

Once you have planned your kitchen - office, you can look forward to many happy days being right in the action,

in the heart of your home.

The author, Susan Pitters, co-ordinates a team of designers who have created a website to pass on many

tried and tested ideas and techniques for the home enthusiast. Many years combined experience and many

remodelings later, the team has amassed invaluable knowledge which they pass on for those wanting to either

design a new, or renovate an out-dated kitchen.

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