Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TKO Tuesday: Clean-Up Zone

Time to discuss the other major zone in the kitchen, the clean-up and dish storage area.

This, of course, includes the main (or only) sink, 
dishwasher(s), and, essential for me, dish storage. 

It's also great to have this area close to and/or where there can be a direct path to and from the eating areas... 
Hopefully, avoiding a walk through the cooking zone.  In our house this means someone can clear dishwashers and set the table during meal prep without disturbing the cooks, creating dangerous traffic situations around knives and hot food.

Dishes:  Some people store their dishes close to the eating area, but I find it easier to carry the needed dishes to the table, rather than carry all the clean dishes during dishwasher clearing, when I'm in a hurry to get cleanup accomplished... Just a turn from the dishwasher and into the shelf or drawer.
We have the glass, but need to install it!

In previous homes our dishes were stored in upper cabinets.  By the time I designed this kitchen, I'd heard about storing dishware in base cabinet drawers.  This seemed like a much easier way to grab a big stack of heavy-ish plates, and that has proven to be so.  This leaves our hutch for glasses, cups, serving bowls, and pitchers, with flatware in the drawers.  We really like this new method, and it's also much easier for the 2 youngest kids to reach their own dishes and help clear the dishwasher.  

Dishwasher placement:  In our last house, when we added a 2nd dishwasher, I had the brilliant idea, I thought at the time, to put a buffet counter in the dining room with the 2nd dishwasher, small sink, and tableware and flatware storage.  
Right away, it was a problem.  We needed both some silverware and some dishes in the kitchen for use with the microwave, and when the kids ate at the breakfast bar.  

I got a 2nd set of flatware specifically for kitchen use.  Even though it looked completely different than our usual set, there were always parts of both sets in each room.

Mostly, the separation of the 2 dishwashers was a problem.  I thought it made sense to wash the dishes in one, and the things used for prep and cooking in the other.  It doesn't work.  If there wasn't room in one dishwasher for more dishes or a large item, but there was still room in the other, the items traveled to the other room.  (Thankfully, we had a former window that served as a pass-through, so most of the time during dish-doing, we could station one person on each side to trade things back and forth.)  Also, if one dishwasher was 2/3 full and the other was 2/3 full, it was better to fill one all the way and run it, rather than leave 2 dishwashers almost full of dirty dishes.  

We always ended up with kitchen things in the dining room dishwasher and vice-versa.  It was a challenge to find a clean utensil or bowl.  There was a lot of walking or 'passing-through' to get clean dishes organized correctly.  It was a great-sounding theory that didn't at all work in practical, daily use... and a plan I certainly didn't repeat in this house.

Some people who visit the Gardenweb kitchen forum ask about which side of the sink they should place the dishwasher, and wonder if the fact that they're left or right-handed should factor in.  For me, that doesn't matter.  The open dishwasher should not be too close to the stove or in the prep and cooking work path.  It should also, in my opinion, be on the side closest to dish storage.  
Most guests can't find our paneled dishwashers,
as each appear to be a cabinet door with drawer above
I have one on each side of the sink, and I don't find either any easier or more difficult to load.  I do find it more frustrating to clear the one on the opposite side of the sink from the dish cabinets, as I miss the ability to take things right from the dishwasher and turn to plop them into the proper shelf.  I also miss the ability to stack things on the counter above the dishwasher, toward the dish storage, and just move them directly into place.  The spot that is "above the dishwasher, but toward the dish storage" from our left dishwasher is full of sink!  I'm not complaining, because with a 10-person household, we find 2 dishwashers VERY helpful and a great blessing... But if I had only one dishwasher, it wouldn't have the sink between it and the dish storage.

Sink:  Most of my life I had a 2-basin kitchen sink.  When I had a single, I missed the ability to separate dirty dishes from food prep... although it was good for bathing kids, sometimes 2 at a time.  So for this kitchen I never considered a single basin sink, and that was a mistake.  I hadn't thought about how the presence of our prep sink would change the requirements for the main sink.  I would be happier to have a large single basin, so I could scrub my rangetop parts and larger skillets, etc., than to have the division I no longer need.

Trash and towels:  We use our trash most during prep and during clean-up, so we situated it to serve both.  
An older photo showing how the trash (the white can
in the right end of the island)
orients to prep and cleanup areas
While we load the dishwashers, the trash pullout, across the aisle in the island, often stands open as we take dishes from the sink or counter, scrape solids and throw away napkins in the trash, then turn to load the dishwasher.  A very efficient system that we're quite happy with.

Towels in top drawer.
Small appliances to be used
in adjacent cooking area
in lower drawers.
Since towels are also needed near the sink, I keep them in the top drawer to the left of the left dishwasher.  It'd be handier to have them next to the sink, but this was a decent compromise.  I miss my old dishwasher with the metal front and wide handle that was so useful for hanging damp dish towels.  Eventually there will be towel bars tucked under the overhang on the end of the island for drying, and I look forward to those.  Right now our towels end up scattered about the room, or hanging on the oven handles, so aren't that handy to the sink.

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