Considered a luxury till a few years ago, modular kitchens are now a necessity in average Indian homes. They not only make life easier in the kitchen space, but also have a feel good factor wrapped around them. Keeping the kitchen hygienic and organised has become a less daunting task, thanks to them. Creating maximum storage space out of the least amount of available space is the main factor behind the concept of these kitchens, though they also give you an option of exploring different design preferences.
Modular means modules or units. Hence, a modular kitchen is a combination of cabinets, shutters, baskets, pull outs, sinks, corner units and chimneys which can be fitted as per the requirements of the user.
Advantages of Modular Kitchens
Maximum storage space can be made available out of minimum existing space.
Hygiene can be maintained with minimum cleaning effort.
The biggest advantage of a modular kitchen is that individual units, if damaged or not in accordance to your taste can be changed and do not require tearing down other sections of the kitchen.
A cover on the equipment is there in terms of warranty so that it can be replaced if there is a defect.
In case of shifting of residence, the kitchen can be easily dismantled and reassembled at the new location.
Types and Styles of Modular Kitchens
Gallery Kitchen or Straight Line Kitchen – In this type of a kitchen all units are assembled on one side of a gallery along the walls. It is the simplest type and provides succour in a space crunched area, especially in small apartments. Usage is efficient in this design and gives a neat and organised appearance.
Double Gallery Kitchen or Parallel Kitchen – This works like a mirror image of a single gallery kitchen. The two facing walls on either side have units installed along them with space in between to move around, work and open the cabinets on either side without bumping into the other. This also provides for efficient usage and streamlined appearance.
L Shaped Kitchen – This design is made using two adjoining walls. The biggest advantage of the L shape is the space that becomes available for movement, which in turn can also be used for eating.
U/C Shaped Kitchen – Formed in a U/C shape this type of kitchen provides one side for entrance and the other side as the end of the work space. The rest is the same as a double gallery kitchen. This is one of the most practical designs and allows for optimal usage of space as there is a three-side continuous storage and work space.
Island Style Kitchen – This style is possible where there is ample space. It is basically a combination of parallel and L shaped kitchens and its spacious character allows plenty of room for movement. Though there is a lot of room in Island style, yet it needs to be planned to ensure organised and streamlined storage and to avoid space and time wastage due to poor arrangement.
Points to be kept in mind while choosing and designing your Modular Kitchen
A number of points will have to be considered while designing your kitchen, starting from appliance, working and storage space; quality of materials used; to lightning and choice of design.
Space availability and optimal usage – Depending on the size of the kitchen and available space one should choose the design. In case of space crunch one should go in for straight line, parallel or U/C shaped kitchens as they provide maximum storage in minimum space. Houses with larger spaces can opt for L shaped and Island kitchen styles. These two styles also work well if one likes to work leisurely and spend more time in the kitchen. The burner, refrigerator and sink placement should be done keeping in mind the efficiency of the work triangle.
Quality of material used – The final outside look of the kitchen is not the only final objective. Though the presentation is important, so is the quality of the finished product. To ensure that the final outcome is sturdy and durable choose only the best quality material and equipment. Ensure the material is water proof and moisture resistant so that cleanliness and hygiene can be catered for. Check for smoothness of operation in cabinets and shutters by opening and pulling out units. The equipment should be user-friendly on the whole.
Countertops – Depending on the look you prefer, there are counter tops available in a variety of material like granite, quartz, wood, black limestone and marble. The granite counter top looks good and is long-lasting while quartz is scratch resistant and heat resistant. The wooden countertop will cater to a traditional look if you fancy one. Being the cheapest, black limestone is the most pocket friendly. Marble is not advisable since it most stain prone.
In-built shelves for bigger appliances – Big appliances like Dishwasher, microwave and oven should be placed in in-built shelves so that they do not need to be moved for use. However, smaller appliances like beaters, toasters, mixers and hand blenders can be placed inside the cabinets and taken out when required so that the countertop remains clutter free.
Cabinets and storage – The cabinets should be made of water, heat and scratch resistant materials which will make them durable and reduce maintenance. A number of materials like, mild steel, PVC, glass and wood are available. The cabinets should be installed in a manner to reduce space constraints. Use a mix of different sized cabinets and baskets so that same sized jars can be stored together and big and small sized utensils can be kept separately.
Sink – Sink should be located in an area of the kitchen which is not cluttered and easy to reach. Choose a sink which is durable and easy to clean. The most popular choices are stainless steel and porcelain. The width and depth should be sufficient so that all dirty utensils and especially the larger ones can fit in.
Flooring – Maintaining utmost care to not spill and drop while cooking can sometimes take the fun out it. However, a dirty looking floor can easily become a de-motivator for experimenting. Choose an easy to clean and stain resistant flooring to ensure the zing is not lost while trying out those exotic yet sometimes demanding recipes.
Wall decor – The wall decor of the kitchen should be such that it does not encourage grime deposit and stains can be easily cleaned. For this it is best to avoid matt finish and opt for a smooth gloss finish. The area above the countertop should be tiled as it will allow for easy wiping and cleaning.
Ventilation – Any kitchen needs good ventilation for comfort of user and family members and also to keep the kitchen area free of soot and grime. Along with windows, a good chimney plays a very important role in this. The chimney should be effective in sucking up unwanted smoke.
Lighting and plug points – A balance should be maintained between natural and artificial lighting. Recessed lighting is becoming a popular choice. The worktop area should have sufficient light options to use at night. Attractive decorative lights are available to give your kitchen the trendy modular look. Position of plug points should be planned according to the electrical appliances used and their placement in the kitchen.
Corner utilisation – Corners can lead to high space wastage. Use revolving panels and baskets for cabinet corners and install units up to the ceilings so that there is sufficient storage space for items that are not used daily. Wall mounted shelves and cup hangers are another smart way to store.
Colour – While it is important you choose a colour suited to your taste, it should also blend in with other modular accessories. In case you desire a spacious look then go in for a yellow and ivory combination. An already big and spacious kitchen will give you the option of experimenting with bolder colours like red and blue, which give a modern and sleek look. However, ensure that the kitchen colour and floor colour are in sync.
Price – While choosing a modular kitchen compare prices to see you are getting the best deal in the market. Also choose a kitchen not just based on looks, but also considering your requirements and budget. But do not compromise on quality as it is a long term investment. Durable and good quality equipment will carry you a long way.
Gone are the days when cooking was a dreary job for women in a smoke filled dingy room with cupboards falling apart and walls needing constant power scrubbing. Modular kitchens provide that relaxed and engaging feel which makes cooking fun not just for adults but also for children. The advent of modular kitchens in Indian homes has transformed that space into a place where the whole family can be together and enjoy.