Childproofing the kitchen is essential when you have little hands around. The kitchen is a prevalent space with hard surfaces, harsh corners, and flammable opportunities – Like a magpie attracted to shiny objects, children always seem to be attracted to hazardous situations.
So where do you begin? Here are five tips for designing a child friendly kitchen.
1. Finishing Touches
Kids aren’t always the cleanest member of the family. They spill drinks, drop plates, and paint the walls with food. In a busy family kitchen the most indestructible materials and benchtops are desired.
You have probably heard of both engineered stone and laminate benchtops.
So, what are the pros and cons to these?
Laminate benchtops are classically made by using resin-impregnated decorative paper. This paper is then bonded to an MDF or a particleboard sheet under heat and pressure.
Compared to most benchtop products on the market, a laminate benchtop is your most affordable product. A laminate benchtop is warm to touch with a wide variety of colours, textures and finishes available.
As the top layer of a laminate benchtop is made with resin- impregnated decorative paper, this product is not heat proof. It will bubble and crack if exposed to extreme heat resulting in a damaged benchtop. Much the same as water, if water seeps through to the MDF or particle board under the paper, this will result in a swollen benchtop compromising the quality.
Engineered Stone Benchtops
The main component in engineered stone is quartz which is one of nature’s strongest minerals. During manufacturing this quartz is mixed with a resin. This mixture creates a stronger slab than some natural stones with better scratch & stain resistance properties.
As engineered stone is a manmade product, it is made to be non-porous. This means the stone will not absorbs liquids creating an easy clean and more hygienic surface.
Stone has a high resistance to chipping, scratching and staining. It is hardwearing and very durable for a lifetime of use. Stone is very versatile and can also be used on various applications from splashbacks, wall panelling and is great as an alternative to shower wall tiles.
Most engineered stone is advertised to be heat resistant; however it is not heat proof! By placing your hot pots and pans straight from the oven or cooktop onto your stone benchtops, you are creating a weak point prone to cracking in the future.
The biggest downside to purchasing an engineered stone benchtop is the price. The manufacturing process is a labour intensive project. Therefore, those costs are reflected in the price of the benchtops.
2. Invite them in
Involving kids in the kitchen can be daunting but also a great learning activity Have you considered designing your kitchen with a lowered section of the benchtop to a child friendly height?
By having a counter top within their reach, the kids can be more involved in helping to cook and prepare meals. They will have easy access to a benchtop without stretching or standing on other furniture and thus reducing accidents.
A lowered benchtop can also be used conjunctively as a homework space, craft station and a place to leave the half-finished Lego blocks. By having a dedicated place in proximity of the kitchen for the younger children to complete their homework, parents can be close by cooking dinner or preparing breakfast. A kitchen is the hub of the home; and a space for a family to co-exist should be a high priority when designing a kitchen.
Make recycling a lifelong habit by involving your younger kids in the sorting of rubbish. Integrated rubbish bins in the kitchen are becoming more and more well known. It makes recycling and composting easier and who wants to see the kitchen bin on display? Be sure to check the bins have lids that are sealable to avoid subtle smells wafting out of the drawer as well as acting as a barrier to keep unwanted insects out.
4. Corner Caution
As you would have it; you will find that your toddler’s head is the exact same height as your handles and other sharp object in the kitchen. – Usually because you will find yourself often comforting them after a bump in the kitchen.
You can minimize this risk by ensuring you stay away from sharp square handles during the selection process of your new kitchen. A curved rounded handle will considerably soften the blow.
A helpful tip when selecting kitchen handles is to stay within the ‘Standard’ handle size drill holes. You will find these easy to replace and source if you wish to change this up for a kitchen refresh in the future.
Kids aren’t always young and do grow up eventually, so don’t compromise your design too much. You still want to enjoy a beautifully designed kitchen