12 Tactics For Creating More Kitchen Bench Space
No bench space? No problem. These design tips will help you create extra work zones in your kitchen.
Remember the last time you heard someone moan that they just had too much bench space? Me neither. Benches that are too long are rarely a problem, but kitchen work zones that are too short always are. With the size of homes and properties shrinking dramatically in many countries around the world, some kitchens are now pint-sized. But fret not, these clever tricks will help you serve up extra space in even the smallest of kitchens.
1. Befriend induction cooktops
The gas-stovetop tribe are sure to resist, but there’s no debate that induction cooktops provide extra bench space when they’re not in use. If you find yourself struggling to conjure up enough room in the kitchen, induction stovetops can offer a place to rest a chopping board for food preparation before you throw all your ingredients in a frying pan. They cool quickly and, unlike many gas stovetops, won’t make your working surface wobble if you place a chopping board, appliance or mixing bowl on top.
2. Ditch double-bowl sinks
If you rarely use the second bowl in your double-bowl kitchen sink, you may be able to ditch it altogether. Single-bowl sinks can take up less precious bench space than many double-bowl designs, while allowing enough room to fit large pots, pans and dishes without having them tilted at an awkward angle.
Tip: Sinks without integrated draining racks also free up extra bench space adjacent to your sink.
3. Sinks get smart
Speaking of kitchen sinks, they’re getting smarter. With many homes and apartments shrinking in size, and people crying out for more bench space, kitchen designers have listened.
Removeable sink inserts miraculously magic up extra work surfaces by fitting snugly over your kitchen sink. Some models slide back and forth while others sit over your basin recess. These changeable designs cater to different tasks and often offer specially fitted chopping boards, mixing bowls, strainers, drying racks, dip bowls and more. Think about which you need the most… or get a combination of the above.
4. Bin it
Similar to sink inserts, pull-out working zones that fit over your bin provide concealed bench space as well. Some come with a handy hole so you can scrape food scraps directly into the bin without touching it, while other designs fit bowl inserts or are made purely as chopping boards.
Like every feature in your kitchen, these designs are best factored in before you build, although some bin inserts can be retrofitted.
Tip: Don’t limit yourself to an insert over just your bin – almost any drawer with enough room can accommodate concealed pull-out bench space.
5. Create an insta-bench
Pull-out, pull-down and fold-up benchtops are great at creating instant prep space in a tight kitchen, and thanks to integrated and concealed options, they now look better than ever.
A good cabinet maker will ensure pull-out benches won’t wobble, which is essential if you’re wielding a sharp knife. They will also double check the weight-bearing restrictions and find a robust design that will suit the tasks you’ll be performing.
You’ll want to make sure you can easily access every tiny nook and cranny for cleaning too, but the most important factor that affects how well your hidden bench works is its height, which could be anywhere from 850 to 1050 millimetres.
6. On the move
Wheeled butcher’s blocks – which can roll in and out to blend almost seamlessly into your cabinetry – are another option if you’re in the market for extra, moveable bench space.
Modular features such as the one seen here offer increased flexibility if you need to use your kitchen for dual purposes, such as storage and cooking, or if you simply want to create some more bench space.
Just make sure you have enough room to freely walk around moveable work stations or you’ll be constantly knocking yourself against surfaces that weren’t there yesterday.
7. Seeing double
If you have some spare or wasted space nearby but not quite in your kitchen, you may be able to utilise it by incorporating an extra bench.
If it’s a little out of the way, it’s doubtful you would use a second bench for cooking or food preparation, though that doesn’t mean you can’t treat it as a different work zone in its own right.
An extra bench could become a dedicated space for making your morning coffee away from the hustle and bustle of breakfast, a mini-bar stocked with delicate glassware and wine, or even an appliance storage cupboard to free up room on your main kitchen bench.
8. Factor in appliances
Have you ever felt that appliances are taking over your kitchen? These cumbersome creatures often command pride of place in a corner on the kitchen bench or take up an entire cupboard, forcing its contents onto the bench.
The solution is two-fold. First, try to be ruthless with the appliances you rarely use, and aim to keep the ones that perform multiple functions instead of just one.
And second, when planning your kitchen, try to factor in a dedicated appliance cupboard, such as the one seen in this Melbourne home by Northbourne Architecture + Design.
9. Island time
If you are one of the lucky ones who have the rare luxury of extra floor space in your kitchen, but the problem of not having enough room on your bench, a kitchen island could be just the ticket. These beauties come in every shape and size imaginable, and increase both your bench space and your storage. Pair your kitchen island with some bar stools to enjoy a comfortable place to perch, or use it to delineate your kitchen from your living areas.
10. Double-duty furniture
No room for a kitchen island? Look to your dining table to double as an extra bench. Most dining chairs comfortably suit a table height of 750 millimetres. Alternatively, bar stools are best for higher kitchen benchtops – which can be anywhere from 850 to 1050 millimetres high – so consider whether you will do more sitting or cooking. An extra work zone that is a little lower than your benchtop can be ideal if you have people of different heights at home, especially children. Island tables make a strong and stylish statement, as in this kitchen found in the home of interior architect, Georgia Ezra.
11. Move it up
Additional storage may not provide you with more actual bench space, but installing a shelf to shift objects off your benchtop will make a big difference. Retrofitting cabinetry is often simply not doable, but adding functional shelving can be a quick and easy fix.
12. Declutter that benchtop
Instead, try to find a dedicated home for the objects that always seem to end up on your bench. Electrical items can benefit from their own drawer complete with phone and computer chargers, cookbooks could stand sentry on a handy shelf nearby, napkins and placemats may be better stored in the dining room, and infrequently used non-essentials such as wedding plates might find a happier home in another room altogether.
Source: Julia Fairley Houzz editorial team