How To Make Your Kitchen More User Friendly
Advertisement
A site for Gen-X men, by Gen-X men, about the stuff in life that really matters.
The Arrow Logo - SVG
Oh no!
It looks like you aren't logged in to the Arrow community. Log in to get the best user experience, save your favorite articles and quotes, and follow our authors.
Don't have an Online Account? 
Subscribe

The Whole Kitchen Reset

How to turn your cooking space into a muscle-fueling man cave.

Bob Blumer in kitchen with frying pan on fire
Roger Kisby

During the past two years, you’ve purged your closet, reorganized your garage and redesigned your backyard or balcony. Isn’t it time for a kitchen reset?

Reconfiguring your kitchen to make it more user-friendly, and to reduce the time you spend cooking, doesn’t have to involve expensive renovations. Here’s how to build a highly functioning prep area that’s set up like a cockpit, lit like a stage and wired for sound.

Designate

Begin by selecting the most efficient work area in your kitchen and designating it as the center of your prep universe. Ideally, this will be a space where you can work comfortably and chat with anyone who may be keeping you company. This may be the place you already gravitate to naturally or a spot that has been hijacked by accumulated detritus. 

Once you’ve selected an area for your prep station, permanently entrench it with the largest cutting board you can get your mitts on. 

Hack: If your counter surface is slippery or uneven, set a piece of a nonstick rubber-backed area rug pad under your cutting board to keep it in position.

Situate

Configure your prep station like a cockpit so that all your crucial cooking instruments are visible and within arm’s reach. Use strip magnets, hooks, mini shelves and empty cans with attractive labels (olive oil, tomato, etc.) to surround yourself with your most-used utensils (tongs, whisks, spatulas, wooden spoons, etc.); your go-to herbs, spices and oils; and your essential knives. 

Hack: The best five bucks I ever invested in my kitchen was a galvanized steel hook I bought at my local hardware store and the dish towel that hangs from it. It helps keep your hands clean, without interrupting the rhythm of your prep work.

Relocate

Create extra workspace by relocating the space hogs that take up prime real estate on your countertops, like the stand mixer you last used six months ago or the oversize flour and sugar canisters you rarely dip into. Question everything. Move the offending items to the top of your shelves, under counters or into storage. 

Then relocate the appliances you use most frequently to where they are the most accessible. This will make you more inclined to use them. Once I decided to keep my panini maker on my countertop, I started using it more often.

Illuminate

Light your kitchen like a stage. If you have track lighting, refocus one or more lamps to illuminate the workspace, ideally in a way that your body won’t cast a shadow over the cutting surface.

Hack: If your head gets in the way of the light, try bouncing the light beam off the wall in front of you. And if your cabinets cast a shadow over your workspace, add some easy-to-install battery-operated LED lights underneath.

Garb-orate

The majority of kitchen garbage bins are located in a pull-out drawer, hidden behind the cupboard door under the sink or relegated to a far corner of the kitchen. Opening drawers or lifting the lids with an armful of vegetable cuttings can require the dexterity of a Cirque du Soleil contortionist. Find a better spot within arm’s reach to situate your bin.

Hack: If you can’t permanently locate an accessible trash can right next to your prep station, conserve your steps by setting an uncovered “feeder” bucket or bag at your feet every time you cook.

Vibe-rate 

Music makes a cook happy. And a happy disposition is an ingredient everyone can taste (just ask any Buddhist). Instead of upgrading to a new state-of-the-art 40-horsepower blender, spend your money on a pair of small wireless bookshelf speakers and add some rock ’n’ roll hoochie-koo to your kitchen. 

Hack: Prop up your largest metal mixing bowl against a wall, on its side, open end facing out. Set your smartphone in the bowl with the speakers facing inward, and hit “play.”

Editor's Picks
Your cheat sheet to identifying all the players in your family game-day roster
, November 22, 2022
Vote today and help us pick the games that defined Gen X
, November 10, 2022
A Gen X dad struggles with his kid’s yearning for brothers and sisters
, November 7, 2022