Modular Kitchen – Everything you wanted to know
We keep getting confused about what aspects are there in a kitchen. What is modular kitchen? What are the finishes, types etc? How is its cost calculated? We discuss all these in this article.
A kitchen is possibly the most important area of a house. It’s technically the most complex. It’s one place which has hot, cold and wet in the same area. It’s the busiest place in the house. In terms of interiors, a kitchen is where we spend most of our money.
This article will discuss all the small and big nuances of a residential kitchen.
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What is a kitchen?
A kitchen is where food is prepared and cooked. It has space for storage of raw materials including cold storage, cooking and serving vessels, food cleaning and preparation as well as food cooking like stove and oven etc.
What is a Modular Kitchen?
A Modular Kitchen is basically a term used for a kitchen which is made in modules. These individual modules are then screwed together to make the whole kitchen. Each module is made as per standard depending on the purpose it is supposed to fulfill. For this reason, a Modular Kitchen is functionally very strong.
Is a modular kitchen made in a factory?
It is wrong to assume that a Modular Kitchen has to be made in a factory. As long as it is made using the concept of modularity, it can be made even on site. In fact, in a lot of places, modular kitchens are even made using DIY techniques. The definition of modular kitchen is dealt with in greater detail in this article which is focused on Modular Kitchen.
What are the advantages of a modular kitchen?
There are several advantages to a modular kitchen. Some of these are assembly, construction, cleanliness as well as durability. It’s easy to simply replace a module instead of changing the whole kitchen if a small part has been damaged.
Assume that there has been a plumbing leakage which has destroyed the area near the sink. In a traditional kitchen, that will mean changing the whole area since removing one side will mean removing the whole woodwork. In a modular framework, only the modules which have been destroyed can be taken out and replaced.
Apart from these, there are several other advantages and disadvantages of a modular kitchen. All these have been discussed in much greater detail in this article on Modular Kitchen.
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What are the various types of Modular Kitchen?
Based on the layout of a kitchen, it can be defined in various different types. All of these have been discussed later in a small article on the various types of kitchen. This page has a simple summary of those.
Galley or parallel kitchen: A kitchen with counters across two parallel walls. It has no corners and you can simply walk through the kitchen.
One-wall kitchen: A single wall kitchen has all the things laid out across a single wall. This is most prevalent in studio flats.
L Shaped kitchen: One of the most common types of kitchens, this has cabinets across two adjacent walls. This typically results in a more comfortable and efficient design.
U Shaped kitchen: In cases where larger space is available for kitchen, U shape kitchens which have cabinets across three walls are present. They give a lot of storage space as well as an efficient work triangle discussed later.
Island kitchen: As the name suggests, an island kitchen has a central work counter which is not joined to any of the walls and has a walking space all around it. Its like a fixed table in the middle of the kitchen. This not only adds additional space to the kitchen but is also useful in making a kitchen look glamorous.
G Shaped kitchen: An L or a U shape kitchen with a counter protruding out is called a G shape. This counter is like an island counter but it is connected to one wall. This works amazingly well as a breakfast counter or a serving counter since it usually lies between the kitchen and the dining area. This counter can also act as a semi-partition between an open kitchen and the other rooms.
What are the areas or zones in a kitchen?
When designing a kitchen, it is important to understand the various areas or zones of the kitchen and how they are associated with each other. This is simply common sense and anyone who spends some time in a kitchen will be able to understand this. Unfortunately, we tend to forget the most basic things when we need them the most.
While the relationships and hardware etc associated with each area of a kitchen will be spoken about in detail in the article specially focused on talking about the areas of a kitchen, we will glance through them here.
- Consumables Storage: This is the area of the kitchen where the consumables or the items which are going to be used for cooking of food are stored. This includes cold and frozen storage like refrigerator as well as larder or pantry.
- Non-consumables Storage: In this area, we store the utensils including cooking and serving utensils. Common sense dictates that this should be near the sink.
- Cleaning: This area basically means the sink. In some larger kitchens, there may be a scullery or utility at the back of the kitchen where the main cleaning work takes place. In that case, the main kitchen may just have a small bowl as a sink for cleaning of vegetables and other requirements of cooking.
- Food preparation: The counter top where the food has to be prepared is essential. This usually is the area where we spend the most time. It has to be comfortably placed and things which are very frequently used for mis-en-place activities like knives, chopping board, mixer etc need to be in the vicinity.
- Cooking: A traditional Indian household used to have a stove for cooking. Nowadays this area also includes oven and other cooking methods which may be present.
As its evident, each of these areas has its importance. Each requires enough space to be able to carry out work efficiently in the kitchen without becoming a bottleneck for any other area.
What is a kitchen Work Triangle?
Work Triangle or Golden Triangle is a concept from before World War II but is as important today as it was then. This is a design concept which is used to optimize the space in the kitchen. If used properly, it can help in reducing the effort of the cook while increasing productivity. Work Triangle can possibly be a whole subject in kitchen interiors and we will take it up in much greater detail in a separate article on Kitchen Work Triangle but we will give you an idea below.
The Work Triangle concept basically works on minimizing the “walk time” between the three most frequently accessed areas of a kitchen – Stove, Sink and Refrigerator. This has to be done while keeping in mind that they should not be so close to each other that they start interfering with each other. Its bad if the splash from the sink keeps getting on the stove! Some basic points of a Work Triangle each of which will be discussed more in a separate article are:
- Distance between each of the three areas should be between 4 feet and 9 feet.
- The sum of the three sides should be between 13 and 26 feet.
- There should be a clear passage without any obstruction across the lines of the triangle with a maximum intersection of 1 foot.
Attention to Work Triangle helps to prevent the cook from walking a marathon during the day in the kitchen. It works on the premise that the more amount of time that someone has to spend walking, the more that person will get tired as well as waste time. By reducing this time, efficiency of work can be increased and energy spent on the same amount of cooking can be reduced.
What kind of Hardware is good for the Modular Kitchen?
Modular Kitchen hardware is possibly the most researched and most widely manufactured thing in interiors apart from wood. There are new and improved (and costly) items which are developed almost daily. The intention of this article is not to mention each of these but give an overview of various areas where hardware is most frequently used in a kitchen. For more detailed information, kindly check out our article on kitchen hardware.
List of some of the famous hardware by area or usage is here:
- Hinges and channels: This might sound very simple but it’s actually not. Not just for kitchen but elsewhere as well, the type of hinges and channels should be dependent on the usage as well as other factors including weight capacity. To give an example, a standard hinge which most carpenters will put will be able to carry around 10-12 kgs. Assuming a plywood drawer of 3-4 kgs, this leaves a maximum capacity of 7-8 kgs. If the intention is to put cutlery or store raw material boxes, this will not last long. Tandems are basically channels which allow this capacity to be increased and come with weight capacity of 30 kgs to 120 kgs as well.
- Hydraulic pumps: Hydraulic pumps allow a wall cabinet with a door opening upwards to open properly. Various companies have various fittings which may be similar or differ from each other. Keep in mind the weight of the door while selecting the hydraulic pump. Too low and the door may not open properly. Too high and you may break the door while closing it.
- Pantry units: Primarily used for storage of consumables, pantry unit hardware can provide a lot of space inside a tall wardrobe for keeping things in an organized manner. You will have lesser issues with items getting hidden somewhere inside the shelves with this unit.
- Corner units: Corners and how to handle those spaces in the bottom areas has been a challenge for almost every kitchen. The usual way is to leave it and dump stuff which will possibly never be used in those places. The smart way is to use a corner hardware fitting. Starting from a simple D tray which could be cheap to expensive pull-outs, corner units come in numerous ranges and styles.
- Steel baskets: These are possibly the most omnipresent items among hardware in a modular kitchen. Steel baskets can be plain baskets primarily for storing utensils. They can come with various perforations to specifically store plates or spoons etc. They can be shaped to make bottle pullout to store things like oil, tea, sugar etc. I think you get the idea. The flexibility of turning steel wires into baskets gives a lot of options. Make sure that the quality of steel is good. This is discussed in more detail in the article on hardware.
- Wicker or similar baskets: Wicker baskets are primarily used to keep vegetables like potatoes and onions and are open without a shutter. They ensure proper ventilation and they look aesthetically good as well.
Kitchen hardware comes from various brands: famous among them in India are Hettich and Hafele from Germany and Ebco from India. Hafele is slightly costlier and Blum is also its brand. Be extremely careful about choosing hardware. Tonnes of other smaller brands are available but not all are making good quality. We will advocate that you spend a bit extra and get a branded product to avoid issues later.
What kind of Handles are good in a Modular Kitchen?
Primary purpose of a handle is to help in opening a door. We can simply grab the door and open as well but if our hands are dirty (a bit possibility in a kitchen) then the door gets dirty. Cleaning doors is usually more difficult and cumbersome that cleaning handles. We will discuss the different types of handles in greater detail in the article on handles and finishes. We will take you through a small list of various styles present right now:
Traditional chrome plated or wooden handles: These are the normal, price sensitive handles which are screwed into the doors. Numerous designs are present and prices may vary slightly based on the design selected. Costlier ones are usually better in quality as well.
Profile handles: Lot of good looking kitchens have aluminium profiles which basically run across the top or bottom side of the shutters. They give a very good look and work really well specially in an expensive kitchen with PU finishes. Some wooden profiles have also started coming which work well in a more traditional design like veneers. Profiles are expensive compared to normal handles. Also be careful about the final finish since if left without finishing, edges can be very sharp and could even cut someone.
“Handle-less” design: This is something which is becoming more famous now. These are basically areas where you cannot see the handles in the door. They are basically grooves which have been polished off in the same finish as the shutters. They cannot be done on laminate finish surface since the look will not come out as well and the edge will also have to be finished in laminate making the shutter corners very sharp.
What wood finishes are ideal for a Kitchen?
Many people may be surprised by this topic since they get to know only 1 or 2 finishes when discussing their work. The reason is simple. A designer or contractor will only talk about finishes which they are comfortable doing. Finishes are a vast topic and will be taken in an article separately but we will just go through them with respect to the execution in kitchen.Lets start from the cheapest finish possible:
- Pre-laminated particle board or PLPB: Many people are aware of this finish with the name of “engineered wood”. Cheapest possible work is done in PLPB and its definitely not recommended for a kitchen work. Simple reason behind this is that particle board is easy to spoil in water. In addition, frequent opening and closing of PLPB shutters will make them lose – and since this is due to use and not because of a manufacturing defect, this is not covered under any warranty.
- Membrane Finish: Membranes are very thin sheets of designer paper which are stuck on either particle board or MDF (again called engineered wood by some smart folks). You can make out membranes from the fact that they can peel off like paper from the wood over some time. While they look amazing initially, depending on the quality of finish, they can spoil very fast. Note: Some companies actually sell these by calling them PU which is false.
- Laminate finish: Laminate is the most common type of finish which is done in factories as well as by hand by carpenters. Its also famous as sunmica or mica. While laminates are brittle, when stuck properly on plywood, they can last really long. Few notes: Firstly, make sure to use plywood and not MDF or particle board. Secondly, finish the edges in PVC edge banding and not laminates. We will discuss the reason behind this in detail in the article on finishes.
- PU or Polyurethane finish: This is a finish many people are not familiar with. PU is basically a paint spread in several layers which is properly sanded and then finally sealed off. Make sure all material including sealer, primer and paint are from good companies like ICA, Asian Paints etc. Local brands usually leave people disappointed but well executed work will be praised for many years.
- Veneer finish: Veneers are strips of real wood which is stuck on plywood and then properly sanded. This is then sealed off giving a wonderful and rich feel. Care has to be taken when dealing with edges.
- Polyester finish: Polyester is referred to as lamination or polycoat depending on who you speak with. Its again a paint but far superior to PU and the final product feels like glass. ICA has several finishes in polyester including a marble finish and a hammer finish. These are done using any colors selected by customers and someone who is looking cannot figure if its real marble shutter or polish.
- Lacquer finish: Lacquer is basically colored glass. Not recommended for bottom units, lacquer glass if used in proper manner can bring about an amazing richness and a contemporary feel to the kitchen. Lacquer glass usually works well with aluminium profile shutters.
There are several other finishes like paint (yes, that is pretty common) or even solid wood but these are either too bad or typically too expensive. We also get aluminium and stainless steel kitchens nowadays. There true value for money is anybody’s guess since home kitchens don’t go through the same pressure that a commercial kitchen does. We will discuss all these in greater detail in the article on finishes.
What are the types of Kitchen work tops?
While we may discuss everything under the sun, fact is that most of our work happens on that slab. And having a good, efficient, clean and aesthetic counter top will make any kitchen look and feel great. Here is a short list of various counter tops which are explained in detail in a later article.
- Granite: Cheap, efficient and strong. Granite basically is quartz with impurities but its pretty strong and comes cheap as well. Good for budget kitchens.
- Quartz: Quartz is very strong and if you can spend that extra small amount, this possibly is the best and least maintenance countertop in the list.
- Concrete: Older concrete used to be dull and boring. Some new architectural concrete are amazing and beautiful but very expensive.
- Marble: Who is not aware of marble. Go for it if money permits but marble requires maintenance.
- Corian: Corian is artificial and very famous in Europe. Unfortunately for Indian cooking, its not recommended due to its tendency to soak strong colors like turmeric. If used, then be careful. Its also expensive in India since its usually imported.
- Wooden: Hard wood counter tops like amazing and glamorous but require constant maintenance and regular polish else they will start looking dull and old.
Several other countertops are also possible like resin which is slowly becoming very glamorous or stainless steel which may start looking dull after a while.
What is the cost of a Modular Kitchen?
Having discussed all the things above, it can obviously sound very complicated if we have to start calculating the cost of a modular kitchen. Its actually not so bad. Obviously the hardware, counter tops etc will depend on the selection of the hardware. For the woodwork, there are some simple formulas. These will be discussed in detail in this article but here is a small brief.
Step 1: Calculate the sft of the kitchen woodwork. Square feet or sft of kitchen is basically the height of the woodwork in feet multiplied by the width in feet. This will be explained properly in the article on costing.
Step 2: Figure out the sft rates for the material and finish that you want for your kitchen.
Step 3: Multiple the two numbers and you get the price of woodwork for your kitchen.
Yes its actually as simple as that!
What Vastu Shastra techniques should be considered in Kitchen?
Ideally, according to Vaastu Shastra, it is said that the kitchen should either be constructed in the South East side of the house or North West if South East is not possible. Nowadays, with builder bought houses, its really not always possible to control the direction where the kitchen is made. Hence try some of these pointers in case you are serious about having a Vastu compliant kitchen. These will also be dealt in more detail in a separate article.
- Keep the cooking stove in the South East in such a way that you are facing East when cooking.
- Keep the sink in the North East. Try to keep as much distance between that and the stove as possible within limits of the Work Triangle. If a dishwasher is included, it should be towards the North Western side.
- A window in the Eastern side is good. It also helps to bring fresh air both to the cooking area as well as washing area.
- Electric equipment should be towards South West.
- Storage areas should be more towards Southern and Western walls
We will try to delve deeper into each of these points in an article devoted to Vaastu in kitchen.
We intend to discuss every single topic in greater detail in smaller areas. We are also making videos to discuss everything related to kitchens. Do message us and comment in case of any queries.