Monday, October 29, 2012

Kitchen Command Centers

Let's face it.  Running a household takes a lot of work.  And who wouldn't love a way to make that easier?  That's where the kitchen command center comes in.  Many new homes are being built with a space for managing the household, usually in or in close proximity to the kitchen.  This can be as simple as a little counter space for a computer or as elaborate as an entire office.


And if you live in an older house you can see scores of ways to carve out a little creatively decorated niche for organizing all your household tasks on Pinterest - all matchy-matchy of course.

Kitchen Command Center
Credit: Pinterest
 While in theory this all looks great, what happens when reality sets in?  Unless you're an uber-organized person or love to take the time to be artsy in all that you do, are you really going to maintain a space that looks as nice as it does on Pinterest?  Let's take a regular household task, like menu planning, and see the different ways you could change your space to accommodate that task.

Maybe I've lost you already if you're not a menu planner.  But everyone has to eat so whether your system is formal or casual, every family has to figure out a way to get the food in the bellies.  How you do that, will depend upon your personality.

Can you say chalkboards?  Artsy people LOVE chalkboard paint.   You can paint a small square on the wall, the back of a door or cupboard, or one entire wall if you like.  Grocery lists, menu for the night or the week, notes to other family members, and, of course, art are all great uses of a chalkboard. 

Do you like to keep a running list of what you have in your deep freezer, crossing off items as you use them?  Do you have a grocery list spreadsheet listing commonly purchased items sorted by aisle number at your favorite grocery store?  Do you plan out meals by the month and keep it posted where everyone can see it?  Then you would probably like a spot in your kitchen where you can tack up your lists and menus for the month along with a spot for your computer and cookbooks.  And because your uber-organized, it will probably always look nice and tidy.

Do you have an app for everything?  Do you keep your grocery  list on your smart phone? Do you keep all your appointments on an electronic calendar and then check how many activities you have on a given night to determine whether you're running through the dive through or making mac and cheese?  If this sounds like you, you would probably be more comfortable with a bit of standing height counter space that houses a laptop and multiple plug-in sites to power up all your electronic devices.

Average Joe (or Jane)
Most people probably fall into this category.  You keep a calendar, but it's a paper one either on the wall or in a desktop organizer.  You keep a running list on your fridge of stuff you need from the grocery store.  You don't really have time or energy to plan out a month of menus but you have an idea of what you are going to make in the next few days given what you already have in your pantry and your freezer.  You have a desk but it's used more for storage of papers and mail than for anything else.  If this sounds like you, then an in-kitchen center probably isn't for you since it would just be a place to gather clutter.  If you have a "command center" at all, it should probably be located somewhere out of the way of the public eye, like inside a pantry, in the mudroom area or maybe even in a closet.  Close enough to use but far enough to hide all the stuff you can't quite get to. 

So remember, before you invest in a beautiful desk area for your kitchen or an elaborate command center, take a moment for a reality check to see if it's something you'll really use.  Just because it looks good in a picture on Pinterest, doesn't mean it will work for you.

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