Clients come to kitchen designers with a whole range of cooking capabilities. Some will be avid chefs eager to have a new kitchen that will service their extravagant meal prep. Others will have less enthusiasm for using the kitchen and be far more concerned with its appearance.

Either way, our role as kitchen designers is to create a safe and workable space for even the most limited culinary activity. A practical test to put to a client who may be challenging your proposed layout (or have an idea of their own that they think will work better) is the old Pasta Test.
 
This is a tried-and-tested exercise to help clients (and sometimes designers) remember that even the most basic cooking activities need thoughtful planning.
 
And with sculleries making a big comeback, this discussion point has become even more relevant.
What’s the difference between a scullery and a butler’s kitchen? Revisit our summary here.
Consider the task of cooking a plain old bowl of spaghetti and dash out (yes, pen-on-paper-dash) this process on your client’s floor plan.
  1. Find your biggest saucepan. You’ll need a pot that holds at least five litres of water to boil a 500 g packet of spaghetti.
  2. Fill said pot with plenty of water (five litres at least – be patient at the tap).
  3. Take the pot of water to the cooktop.
  4. Add a decent shake of salt. (Some people say it should be sea-water salty. Others reckon one to two tablespoons for five litres. We say work this one out on your own.)
  5. Bring the water to a full, bubbling boil.
  6. Add your pasta to the pot. Stand guard and stir at least two or three times during cooking.
  7. Check the pasta’s doneness. Is there still a bit of crunch in the centre? Does the pasta have a springy bounce? It’s probably ready.
  8. Find your colander in its dedicated storage space and pop it into the sink.
  9. Take your heavy pot of boiling water and pasta to the sink. Pour into the colander and drain.
  10. Take your cooked and drained pasta to your prep area and serve it into bowls.
  11. Add sauce, olive oil, parmesan, or whatever takes your fancy. 
How does your traffic line look? What are the chances of a hot water spill and potential hospital visit? Is the stand-alone sink sitting in the scullery – well away from the cooktop and the plating up bench – going to be problematic? If so, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board – literally.
 
This sounds like a very basic process and activity to carry out with your client, but you’ll probably be surprised at how many people don’t think through the practicality of simple meal preparation.
 
You don’t need to be a master chef to be a master kitchen designer, but having a few role plays on the ready will help get your clients thinking about how they’re going to use their space.
 
Here are a few scenarios to consider to ensure you have a fail-safe design:
  • What happens if the dishwasher is full (or fails)? (Think stacking space, landing area and the necessity of a second bowl…)
  • Are the dry goods stored in a well-ventilated space free from heat/steam generating appliances?
  • How are the groceries unloaded in the household? 
  • Does the home cook have a favourite cast iron pot to store?
Do you have another exercise you walk your clients through to create a workable kitchen layout? Share your tips for a practical client scenario below.