The Problem with One-Sided Kitchens

John and Matthew delve into how one-sided kitchens disrupt the functionality of a home.

  • jim baer

    john & matthew

    greetings and happy new year to u and all the slow homers.

    i am going to play the devil’s advocate and suggest that all one sided kitchens are not inherently bad.

    attached is a photo of my one sided kitchen and i find that it functions well and accommodates my lifestyle and cooking needs. yes, it IS small. and counter space is limited. but it works for me. i think its attributes include the window, the separation from the adjacent spaces and it is sized right for the studio apartment.

    i think the kitchen you showed was a particularly good example of a particularly bad one sided kitchen.

    so for the viewer that asked the question i would say … don’t immediately dismiss one sided kitchens. instead look at the other conditions that may make it a bad kitchen in general. such as … poor placement of the fixtures and appliances, not enough room for an additional work space / counter / table etc if this is what you want and not enough screening if it is open to the other functions.

    and if you find a good one sided kitchen that functions well and satisfies your needs … then relax and enjoy.

    as julia childs would bon appetite … in french … with a funny accent …

  • Steve in Van

    Just today I toured the sales office for Foster & Partners’ residential tower under construction in downtown Vancouver. It’s world-class architecture at out-of-this-world prices.

    Believe it or not, eight of the 13 floorplans have one-sided kitchens (this is plan V with 1478sf). While some developers may use the one-sided kitchen to save money, for Foster it must be a design issue. Maybe it’s a British thing.

    But the work triangle isn’t just a Slow Home principle. According to the article below, “the kitchen work triangle is probably the most researched and applied ergonomic principle around.”

    And if one kitchen design principle is good, more must be better … :)

  • http://deleted S.N.

    Hi all
    jim baer and Steve in Van made an interesting points from different perspectives.
    So, I think you all are right, but I believe kitchen design is a personal thing.
    Here in Europe single sided kitchens are a common place, I also have one.
    I and my wife live in a one bedroom one bathroom 32m2 (344sf) apartment, and single sided kitchen is only one that could fit in. Furthermore standards in Europe are different than those in USA/Canada for example:
    320sf is standard studio
    500sf is 1be 1ba
    750 is 2be 1ba
    And so on…

    So single sided kitchens are necessity due to the lack of space.

    There is also personal thing, cocking is my favorite daily activity, and I learned to use kitchens in certain ways, For example:
    I love idea of island, but would never put stove or sink on the island, because I find it really impractical. For me island can only be extension of working surface.
    Oven should be beneath or near a free worktop surface (so you don’t have to carry hot baking plates long way), but I love “appliance garage”.
    And so on…
    So I think each of us would design kitchen according to his/hers customs, and requirements. But if you design kitchens according to Slow home rules you can’t go wrong.

    As for the Foster’s issue brought by Steve in Van
    First of all if you don’t hear from me for some time I am in a labor camp serving 10 years for criticizing Baron Foster of Thames Bank, his architectural royal Highness, Almighty…
    …but I don’t think any normal European architect reads Canadian web pages (too bad, they could learn few things), so I will be OK.

    Problem with that apartment is not only the kitchen, but the whole thing. It is just badly designed.
    That sort of apartment should not have a walkthrough kitchen, bathrooms should be bigger, that balcony is too narrow it is pointless…. all of all it is poorly designed apartment for truck load of money. If only Foster spent 5min looking at the plans before he signed the project….

    I think redesign of this apartment should be a great online workshop… ….we didn’t have one in long long long long time…. :(

    O yes, I sent a mail to John regarding a specific bathroom design that I found in Vancouver while looking at those apartments, and bathrooms in Foster’s tower have same design issue… …so I hope John and Matthew will post a answer for my question :) :) :)


  • Matthew North

    Thanks everyone for all your comments on this segment!

    Jim Baer – your picture is great and very informative. I think for me, the issue with single sided kitchens has to do with the developers “cheaping out” when the unit is large enough to handle an alternative type of kitchen design. When single sided kitchens are placed in a unit without any regard to how they are used, it really bothers me. In your case, the size of your apartment dictates a more compact design, but you still have natural light and an efficient organization of space. Given your comment, I am now going to clarify my point of view to say that I dislike “badly designed single sided kitchens but recognize that there are many examples where single sided kitchens are well designed and also have Slow Home characteristics.”

    As an aside – I would love if any of the Slow Home viewers could find and post examples of well designed single sided kitchens in plan or photos so we could discuss this on a future episode.

    Steve in Van – So what is your overall impression of the Foster building aside from the single sided kitchen? Do you think the units meet the Slow Home criteria? It wasn’t around when we did our Slow Home Project, but I am looking for an opinion!

    S.N. – Thanks for your comments. It is always good to get a European perspective – I am fascinated to learn about the size of typical apartment/ loft units in Europe – we are truly in a different square footage expectation in North America – and I think that at this scale design is even more critical because everything has to be functional and efficient. I would love to see more examples of how kitchens in 300 and 400 sq ft apartments are designed – we could probably learn a lot from this!

    S.N. – You are correct, we have not done a Design Project in a while! We have been working like mad men around here trying to get our Slow Home Course ready for release. We are in the final stages of editing and programming. We will pick this up again once things “slow” down a bit. We are really excited about some of the upcoming things we have planned for 2011 – a lot of new stuff on the horizon!

  • Theresa@NY

    This apartment is really nice…hope the web site shows up…

  • Theresa@NY