Friday, July 11, 2008

Laundry in the Kitchen

Most North American kitchens don't include laundry facilities, but there are some good reasons why you might consider including them in your kitchen design.


Whoever decided that the best place for the washer and dryer was in the basement - often in an unfinished area with a dusty concrete floor and spidery open-joist ceiling - didn't do laundry very often. Especially if you have kids, a laundry area in the kitchen will be much easier to get to and use, and usually be nearer the bedrooms where much of the laundry is produced.


The kitchen already has water supply and drain lines ready to hook your washer into, so if you do want to move out of the basement, it's a good place to move to without having to pay for major plumbing work. You will almost certainly need to run new electrical circuits though, if you want an electric dryer. A gas dryer may be a good choice if you already have a gas supply to the kitchen for your range.


A stacked washer and dryer in the kitchen uses much less space than the regular full sized separate appliances in their own laundry room. Consider using the laundry room for something else completely - maybe you can remove a wall and combine it with the kitchen, maybe you need mudroom space for your large family, or maybe it could be a home office, craft room or darkroom.

Do you have a kitchen laundry? Would you have one? Why or why not?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

"Low maintenance" kitchen materials: Stainless Steel and Granite?

Stainless steel and granite tend to be touted as very tough materials which will last a lifetime. And they probably are. That doesn't mean they are "low maintenance", though, if by that you mean what a normal person would mean - i.e. that they don't need to be cleaned and babied and titivated unnecessarily often, and have special care taken of them.

In fact stainless steel and granite do both need special care and cleaning.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel generally is prone to water spots, fingerprints, and dents. Water spots are sometimes permanent, fingerprints can generally be wiped off - but how many times a day are you willing to do that? Especially if you have small kids. Fridge doors are especially prone to dents. Some "stainless" finishes are much less fingerprint-prone than others, and there are cleaners which make the cleaning both easier and more long lasting. I recommend a search of the Kitchens forum on Gardenweb to find the most up-to-date recommendations from people who actually use their kitchens.


You would think that stone would be the toughest, most cleaning-resistant and least-maintenance material on the planet, right? Apparently not. Granite and other stones need to be sealed after installation and at regular intervals from then onwards. Some cleaning materials will damage them - you have to use the right stuff. High gloss surfaces show marks and fingerprints mercilessly. Some food items can damage or stain them. Very hot pans can cause them to crack. Crisp corners and edges can chip.

So, if you're planning to use these materials, do your homework and make sure you know what they will need in the way of maintenance, and that you'll be happy doing it. Otherwise, why pay all that money just to end up with work you didn't expect or intend?