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Kitchen Ergonomics

Ergonomically designed appliances and fixtures are elements of the kitchen that are specifically designed to provide ease of use and comfort. Ergonomics – or the study of the ways in which placement of particular elements in a space can enhance ease of use and comfort – is a growing science that many kitchen designers are taking notice of.

Ergonomics has found its way into many areas of kitchen design. First and foremost, designers who study ergonomics turn to the countertops, which provide a work surface and therefore are one of the most important elements in any kitchen space. Customized countertops provide the most ergonomically sound spaces. Customizations may placement of the countertops, or even may include height.

Rather than asking your body to adapt to the height of the countertop, often resulting in a bent back or overworked arm, ergonomics teaches us to have the countertops adapt to us. Varying heights can provide even more comfort, allowing you to stand up straight whether you are chopping and slicing or stirring a pot. Because of the different heights that the instruments used to perform each act add or detract, varying countertop heights may be necessary. A good marker of measurement is that the countertop should come to about your elbow.

Rather than traditional cabinetry, ergonomics experts suggest using drawers, which are easy to reach into, instead of cabinets that you must reach up to get items from. For example, if dishes are stored in a drawer that keeps them at a comfortable height when the drawer is open, they can be retrieved without much contortion of the body. Anything that you can do while still standing up straight – no bending or stretching – is going to be more comfortable for your body in the long run.

Speaking of comfort, as any serious cook knows, many hours of standing in the kitchen can be a pain – literally. Hard flooring like ceramics and terra cotta are hard on your legs and bones, and therefore cause you to fatigue out of discomfort. Instead of using these hard materials, ergonomics experts suggest using a material with more give, or more “bounce”. Such materials include rubber, cork, and even wood.

A big element of ergonomics involves making sure that the kitchen layout is most suitable for the way that a particular individual moves about the kitchen. A custom-designed kitchen may be especially great news for a left-handed chef, who has likely been going out of his or her way to adjust to kitchens for many years. Typically, kitchens are set up for right-handed people, placing a countertop to the right of the stove so that utensils are easy to reach. Swapping these sides can be a world of difference for a lefty.

Additional outlets throughout the kitchen can make a big difference for those who often find themselves using an appliance away from the workspace they’d like to be working in. By installing outlets virtually everywhere in the kitchen, there is no work surface that is not capable of being used in conjunction with a small electronic.