There was a time when “Meet you at our house” meant a nice conversation and maybe a cup of coffee in the living room, the family room, or even the outside patio. Today, however, things have changed. Not only that, but the trend toward kitchens that are more like social centers is becoming more popular. For a growing number of reasons, the social room of the average American home is becoming the kitchen. Here are some parameters and reasons for this shift.
The Average Size of Today’s Kitchen
Today’s modern kitchen comes in a wide variety of different sizes, designs, and sizes. It doesn’t matter whether the cook (or anyone else) wants something that is a total remodel or a new room, the kitchen is more and more taking center stage of what is called the traditional American home. Whether you are making a simple upgrade or expanding your kitchen, the usual first step is to do your research on what is available as well as what is possible. It’s important to understand that thanks to technology and a revolution in designs, practically anything is possible, but you have to begin knowing what you can do. That is the purpose of this article, beginning with the square footage of what is doable.
To begin, let’s take a look at what the average size of a kitchen in the United States actually is, what impact this has on home design, and why these considerations exist in the first place.
For Starters and Today’s Kitchen
Just to see where we have come from, try to remember what the kitchen looked like in the homes of yesteryear. If you go back far enough, chances are good that there was no designated kitchen in the home. This was because, due to cooking fires, there was usually no designated kitchen, only an area where the foods were prepared. The rooms, if there were any, were open since the cooking area often served as a heating source. As time went on and heating methods become more sophisticated, individual rooms evolved that often had their own heating sources, which allowed for the kitchen to become its own room. The kitchen was usually very small primarily since the size of the home was also small.
Today’s obviously, room sizes have changed. For a variety of reasons, kitchens, as well as every other room in a home, have gotten larger. Home design options have been a huge factor in the increase in the size of kitchens. This is not only obvious when you consider the size of early homes, but even as recently as the mid-20th century, homes, including kitchens, are much larger. Next, you need to consider what the term “average,” especially when you describe the term in light of home designs. Simply stated, average today is much different from what we would have called average only a few years ago. Lastly, it is important to consider how the industry has changed over the past number of years when describing the term average, especially when you compare that with the perception of the consumer.
Kitchen Size in the Mid-20th Century
If you can’t get your mind around how much the concept of kitchens have changed in the past few years, take a look at some of the old home magazines. And when you consider the amenities of today’s kitchens when compared to the remainder of the home, the differences will become instantly obvious. The difference in the sizes of all rooms, including the kitchen is much larger than in years past. In terms of square footage alone, the size of American kitchens have increased dramatically. Kitchens in years past are considerably smaller than today’s. In fact, older kitchens averaged approximately 80-square feet in size. This can be attributed to a number of factors, including the style of entertaining, the culture, overall home size, and others.
In years past, the kitchen was used almost exclusively for food preparation and clean up. Today, however, the kitchen is used not only by that person who might be the primary preparer of the family’s meals, but also by whoever might want to make their own meal during the day, prepare a snack, or even socialize with friends, guests, and neighbors. Simply put, people like to socialize in the kitchen. In fact, people today are just as likely to carry on social activities in the kitchen as much as they might have been in the living room or family room in years past.
This changing social role of the kitchen is an important part of this changing size. Today, people “hang out” in the kitchen. Some kitchens have even been outfitted with radios and televisions. Some kitchens have even been equipped with these appliances that are fitted underneath cabinets and other fixtures so they are not in the way of other functions. Other technological needs have also necessitated a larger kitchen, as well as the vision of what constitutes a “necessity” such as islands, additional sinks, and full-sized freezers as well as refrigerators and much more. Even more, larger homes have more room for a still larger kitchen. As a result, what is an “average-sized” kitchen?
Trying to pin down exactly what constitutes the size of an average kitchen is somewhat akin to explaining the shape of water. It is what you want it to be. Whereas in years past, kitchens were usually given a designated amount of space, but it only takes watching nearly any home and garden show, and you will find that more and more the kitchen is often the centerpiece of the home, taking up virtually any size, especially in larger homes.
The numbers below reflect a broad spectrum of opinions on the part of several architects and designers.
- 720-square-feet is the average number given by several large builders. It’s interesting to point out that this figure is almost as big as the average small home years ago. In the case of this number, however, builders point out that this size kitchen would be right for a home of about 4,800-square-feet. Obviously, when the home is small it is reasonable to scale down the size of the kitchen.
- 180 to 440-square-feet is the kitchen size for most new home designs.
- 225-square-feet is the overall national average for a kitchen as it relates to average kitchen size.
- 175 to 200-square-feet is the average size of a kitchen and dining area that has been combined. As functionality is increased, so does the size of the kitchen area. As it gets larger, of course, it gets more difficult to call it simply a kitchen.
- 100-square-feet is what the average cabinet maker calls a kitchen. This is the figure that most cabinet makers use when calculating a renovation project.
- 70+-square-feet is the figure used by the National Kitchen and Bathroom Association when defining the size of kitchens found in smaller homes, condominiums, and apartments.
It doesn’t take much more than just a casual reading of the material above and a general understanding of the housing industry to appreciate that to define the average size of today’s kitchen is no easy task. Today, the “average” sized kitchen is generally what you want to make it. Average is, well, a relative term. What might be called average in one neighborhood or in a certain tract of homes, might not be true in another. Even in the same neighborhood, what is average in one home might not be average in the next. IT is, however, important to get a general idea of what is average for the project you have in mind. As confusing as it might make you, it’s also important to consider the average size of your home when designing a kitchen for it. The average size of a home is not 4,800-square-feet. It’s more like 2,392-square-feet, which makes all the difference in the world when you draw up your plans.
When you understand that the average (there’s that word again) size of a kitchen is only 10 percent to 15 percent of the home’s overall area, it means that the kitchen should be between 240 and 360 square feet in size. This does not count condominiums or apartments, which have kitchens that are between 100 and 200-square-feet in area.
When you consider remodeling of your kitchen, it’s important to not be overly influenced by the media or even your friends and neighbors. Friends and neighbors only want your friendship, and the media only wants your money. As a result, you will probably end up with not only much more kitchen that you really need, but appliances and other amenities that are much more expensive than what you want. Instead, in the final analysis, you should consider what you want and need only. Nothing more. In the end, your average kitchen will end up being exactly what you want to serve your needs and that of your family. As a result, you will be well served, and you won’t feel like you have been used and certainly not taken advantage of. Instead, you will have a kitchen that you can be proud of and will serve you for years to come.