Modern-day architects and believers in the ancient Eastern art, Feng Shui, agree: When it comes to home design, the kitchen is king. After all, it's human nature to associate food and cooking with nurturing and sustenance.
Feng Shui practitioners say that how you design and decorate the kitchen can influence your prosperity and health. Architects from the Western world emphasize the importance of accessibility. Both share many of the same core beliefs. Let's look at some basic Feng Shui ideas and see how they apply to modern kitchen design.
The first thing to bear in mind when considering any Feng Shui advice is that ultimately, Feng Shui is a complex practice with several different schools. Recommendations will vary from school to school and from one practitioner to another. So too, advice will differ depending upon the particular home — and the unique people living in it. Yet, despite their diverse views, Feng Shui practitioners will agree on basic principles for kitchen design.
When you first plan to build a new home, where should you place the kitchen? We can’t always decide where each room in a house or apartment will be in relation to the others, but if you’re working with new construction or doing extensive renovations, ideally the kitchen will be in the back of the house, at least behind centerline of house.
In any case, it’s better if you don’t see the kitchen immediately upon entering the house, as this can portend digestive, nutritional, and eating problems. Having the kitchen at the entry point can also mean that guests will come over and eat and then leave immediately. Such a placement can also encourage the inhabitants to eat all the time.
But if your kitchen is in the front of the house, don’t panic. Use this as an opportunity to get creative. Try one of these easy solutions:
- Hang sheer or beaded curtains over the kitchen door.
- Install louvered doors.
- Provide something delightfully eye-catching across a hall or in a vestibule near the kitchen. That way, attention is diverted from the busy kitchen.
It's important for the cook to be in a "commanding position" when at the stove. The cook should be able to clearly see the doorway without turning away from the stove. Renovating a kitchen so this is achieved can be particularly challenging. Many modern kitchens place the range facing the wall. To resolve the problem, some Feng Shui consultants recommend hanging something reflective, such as a mirror or a shiny sheet of decorative aluminum, over the stove. The reflective surface can be any size, but the bigger it is, the more powerful the correction will be.
For a more dramatic solution, consider installing a cooking island. Placing the stove in a central island allows the cook to see the entire room, including the doorway. Beyond the Feng Shui benefits, a cooking island is practical. The wider your view, the more you’ll be able to comfortably talk with dinner guests or keep an eye on the kids as you—or they!—prepare the meal.
Cooking islands have become a popular trend in kitchen design. According to Guita Behbin, owner of Duramaid Industries (a kitchen and bath design and renovation company) many customers want their kitchens to flow into an open space, or "Great Room," that includes a living and dining area. Designing a kitchen around a cooking island will help keep the cook involved in whatever is happening in that Great Room, whether it’s before-dinner conversation or hearing about a child's homework.
Feng Shui-inspired kitchen design dovetails with the contemporary trend toward "group cooking." Instead of isolating the cook, families and guests often gather in the kitchen and participate in the meal preparation. Busy working couples use dinner preparation as an important time to unwind together. Cooking with kids becomes a way to teach responsibility and build self-esteem.
It is truly amazing how much the ancient Feng Shui beliefs have to tell us about the design of modern kitchens. For help in choosing lighting and appliances, read on.
MORE: Inside Feng Shui Kitchens >>>
Source: Content adapted from an article by Nurit Schwarzbaum and Sarah Van Arsdale, courtesy of the online Sheffield School of Interior Design at www.sheffield.edu, now the New York Institute of Art and Design (NYIAD).