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KITCHEN ERGONOMICS

This has nothing to do with your personal ego when showing off how fantastic you are as a cook or a singer while in the kitchen, and nothing to do that skyhooks song about, “some people put their ego in the bottom draw….ego it’s not a dirty word”
However………if you’re getting frustrated with the lack of flow and ease when it comes to cooking and doing things in the kitchen, well that’s where ergonomics comes into it. Ergonomics is bit of a big word, and if you’re not sure what it means, well here it is.

Ergonomics – “designed for ease of use, designed for maximum comfort, efficiency, safety, especially in the work place. Encarta world English dictionary

By the way, the word Ergonomics is made up of two Greek words Ergon – meaning work and Nomoi – meaning natural laws. Anyway Ergonomics play a major role in designing your new kitchen. Here are a few things to consider which will ensure the design of your new kitchen meets the physical needs of its uses.

Finding a kitchen layout that is ergonomic and fits your lifestyle. Whatever layout you do go ahead with you should make sure everything is within reach and at the right height. This will help to minimise wasted time and energy which is very important when using the kitchen. A concept that’s been around for over 50 years is the classic triangle. The work triangle is the three main points between the sink area, cooking zone and the refrigerator. Today, with the arrival of dishwashers, microwaves, coffee machines and other specialised appliances, as well as island benches, computers and other fancy entertainment gizmos is challenging the classic work triangle. So with these possible elements in mind it takes very careful planning out to obtain the best solution maintaining an optimal work flow.

Take into account the positioning and height of your appliances, consider if you will you be able access inside the microwave or oven safely. You don’t want to be up on your toes like you’re practising ballet every time you want to use the microwave oven. Your sink and other various appliances should also have an appropriate amount of working space on either side.

Cupboards to the ceiling can be great because you utilise the space within your kitchen area. However if you have get up on a step ladder to access the extra space maybe reconsider having them smaller so they are within reach and useable. I did have a customer who had asked if we can take the overhead cabinets to the ceiling. I noticed that he was probably 6ft 3in and I had also found out that he lived in a unit, which didn’t have a garage; he also planned to live at the same place for about 5 to 7 years, so of course in that instance it would be quite a practical thing to do.

Consider the height of the individuals using the kitchen to determine if standard cupboard and bench top heights are suitable. The standard bench height is 900 mm. However if you are taller or shorter than the average person ensure that you have the bench height changed to suit your needs. Remember working heights may vary for different activities for example, washing up and food preparation.

For those who have difficulty bending over, reaching into a cupboard may prove a bit troublesome. Pullout draws are an excellent alternative to bottom shelves. We have a bottom shelf in one of our pantry displays ; I always take pride in showing how it is possible to get access to. I have also demonstrated how you can open the bottom draw of a pantry even if your hands were tied or holding a baby in one hand and 6 pack canned baked beans. It’s easy, I say just grab the draw with your foot, Easy peasy, Bobs your Uncle.

Another interesting item is handles, there are some really beautiful and aesthetic looking handles out there today to choose from. It’s important that you not only get a handle that looks great but the grip has to be right for you and those that will be using the kitchen.

There are other items that may need individual requirements for example lighting, positioning of a bin and fridge. The type and size of stools to be used at breakfast bars and pretty much everything in the kitchen requires detailed thought in regards ergonomics.

Kitchens should be ergonomically friendly, efficient and safe for everyone without having to pull their hair out with frustration not being able to reach things or slip or stumble and hurting yourself. So there is plenty of scope enjoying cooking to the max! or whatever you use your kitchen for……yeah it’s okay, let go a little bit and show off in grand style put your ego in a safe and efficient cooking environment. Ergonomics, it’s not a dirty word!

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