Appliances and equipment basic to the kitchen are a cooker, sink and refrigerator. In addition there may be a dishwasher, a freezer (either integral with the refrigerator or separate) and, if the kitchen also serves as utility room, a washing machine and dryer. What may be termed “secondary” appliances (e.g. food mixers, dispensers, waste-disposers) help to ease labour and add to efficiency, while ample linked working surfaces and storage units are the essential complement.
Hob, oven and grill are the basic components of a cooker. The traditional cooker or kitchen stove combines these in one unit: a drawback is that you must stoop to use the oven. Alternatively, a separate oven, oven and grill or oven and plate-warmer can be installed at a convenient height.
A separate oven need not be immediately adjacent to the hob unit; if two people are sharing the cooking, one can attend to the oven while the other attends to a kettle on the boil without getting in each other’s way. If you install an eye-level oven, make sure that it is not in fact too high for the height of the user or users; otherwise there could be accidents when heavy dishes containing hot food are lifted out of it.
Most cookers these days are powered either by gas or electricity. The respective merits of each continue to be a matter of some controversy. There are now available hob units in which both gas and electricity are incorporated in the hob.
Capable of producing a temperature high enough to burn spillage off the interior of the oven, a self-cleaning oven virtually dispenses with one of the messiest tasks in the kitchen. A supply of oven liners also serves this purpose.
One type of cooker hood is fitted over the hob with a duct through to theexternal wall. The other type, cheaper to install, consists of a metal canopy fitted at a height of not less than 3 ft (or 91 cm) over the hob. The canopy contains a fan and cleaning filters; plastic foam (to trap grease from cooking) and charcoal (to absorb cooking smells and steam). The charcoal filter must be renewed at least once a year. Most hood models operate at one of two speeds. Some incorporate a light.
Like the cooker and the refrigerator, the sink should, if possible, be placed within the work triangle. Subject to this, its preferred position for most people is under the kitchen window but in a large kitchen combining a dining area it might be better sited elsewhere so that there is an unobstructed view outside during sit-down meals.
Recent statistics show that in kitchens lacking a dishwasher the housewife spends, on average, nearly 1 hours a day at the sink and adjacent work surfaces. The advantage of a double, as against a single, sink is therefore obvious. Provided one bowl is large enough to take big saucepans and oven trays, the other bowl can be smaller. If there is space, a third bowl for such tasks as emergency laundering of small items or preparing cut flowers can prove a bonus. Whether single, double or triple, the sink should have its taps or mixer tap set at a height that enables a bucket to go under them easily for filling. Waste-disposal unit. This gets rid mechanically of a great deal of soft waste and vegetable matter. It is a valuable adjunct, particularly where garbage disposal is difficult or garbage collection erratic. For safety, the operating switch for the unit should be set some distance from the sink itself so there is no risk of your having a hand in or near the mouth of the unit while you are switching it on with your other hand.
Assess the size and capacity of refrigerator you require by reference to the size of the family and the frequency with which you shop. Some refrigerator models combine a twin freezer for deep-freezing food stocks in the one unit, which saves space in a small kitchen. A large separate freezer is probably better placed in the utility room rather than the kitchen itself.