Multifamily Kitchen Design & Cabinetry in the Post-COVID World
4 considerations for multifamily kitchen cabinetry in response to COVID-19
Much of the country has spent the past several months sheltering at home amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, and even now as restaurants begin to reopen, we’ve all been cooking and eating more meals at home – a pressure test of sorts for kitchens that are being used more frequently and, sometimes, for tasks that have nothing to do with food.
Multi-Housing News recently wrote an article on five ways multifamily design will have to change as a result of the pandemic. In this blog post, I want to focus specifically on the kitchen and what cabinetry design shifts can be incorporated in newly constructed and renovated communities to make one of the most highly trafficked areas of the home more functional for apartment dwellers.
- Multi-purpose islands
Inherently, kitchens are a place where people gather. Known as the heart of the home, today, the kitchen often needs to pull double- or triple-duty for cooking, working and learning.Whether stationary or mobile, islands are a multi-purpose solution that not only provides extra counter space for food prep, but also additional storage.It’s important to note that while islands have universal appeal, they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. They should be large enough to provide ample workspace, but not so large that they overwhelm the room. Open shelving can help break up the base of the island without sacrificing storage. In some configurations, one end of the island may be left completely open so stools can be stored underneath when not in use. The key is building in enough flexibility to accommodate multiple uses, some of which may be happening simultaneously — for example, if children do schoolwork as a meal is being prepared.
- Tech integration
Kitchens haven’t traditionally been known as a high-tech space, but that’s beginning to change as tablets replace recipe books and smartphones are used to control WiFi-enabled appliances.The primary challenge is finding a way to keep mobile devices away from food and water yet accessible for the tasks at hand. To solve this challenge, under-cabinet drop-down mounts that keep smartphones and tablets at eye level and charged are being used more frequently.Equally important is adding enough outlets to power those devices. Knowing this, we look for ways to integrate USB outlets into charging drawers, islands and backsplashes – as close to each work area as possible. Opting for outlets with integrated USB is becoming the norm as more and more of the devices that we use are chargeable via USB.
- Expanded storage
With a steep increase in the number of meals being prepared and enjoyed at home, renters are seeking improved storage to house all of their gadgets and cookware, some of which they may not have owned before the pandemic.Drawers in base cabinets are a must, as contents are easier to access than with traditional shelving. There are a number of in-drawer accessories that can be added to enhance utensil storage and cookware organization. Historically, these features have not been installed in rental properties due to the marginal increase in cost, but we expect them to become a more standard offering as developers and renters alike view kitchens differently in the context of the pandemic.
- Prevalent pantries
Shoppers who were unable to find even the most basic groceries during the pandemic are likely to stock up on those items in the future, especially during periods of remote work and e-learning. In anticipation of this trend, we are seeing a resurgence in the popularity of pantries, which can be difficult to incorporate in apartment kitchens due to spatial constraints.Pantry cabinets typically start at 15 inches wide, and while that may not seem very wide, finding space for them often requires a little bit of creativity during the design phase. Our recommendation is to consider smaller appliances or combination appliances, both of which are growing in popularity and make it possible to add a pantry cabinet without increasing a kitchen’s square footage. Developers may opt for a 24-inch cooktop instead of the more traditional 30-inch size. Another option is installing microwaves that can also function as an air fryer and convection oven, among other capabilities, which frees up additional cabinet space.
These are just a few of the suggestions we are discussing with our multifamily clients as they look for ways to futureproof apartment communities in response to COVID-19. Contact us today to learn more about these and other cabinetry solutions being implemented to make homes more functional for today’s renters.