Re: determinants of success - not just cohousing
From: ken (
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 07:42:09 -0800 (PST)
Hey, Jenny,

Since the kitchen is generally the most expensive room in a house, I can
understand your interest.  I've also found that the kitchen is often a
social center; that is, it's a place where people often hang out.  So
plan that into your kitchen too (if you find that's true for you).

It's been more than fifteen years since I did all that research and
design, so I don't remember specific book titles.  After reading four or
five of them though, I found them to be very repetitive, saying what was
said in the books before them.

I gave some conclusions I found in my previous email, but thought of a
couple other things you might not find in the average book on kitchen
design:  For me, part of the notion of simplicity means designing for
easy and minimal cleaning.  This means no shelves.  Shelves collect
dust.  Insofar as possible, put everything behind a door or in a drawer.
 The fancier the surfaces, the harder they'll be to clean.  Plan to have
at least one appliance garage, a unit for often used small appliances
(blender, coffee maker, etc.).  Those typical stoves with cooking on top
and oven below can't help but have a gap between the sides and the
adjacent counter top on each side.  These two gaps can't help but become
a place for crumbs, dust, and other crud to fall into.  So I opted for a
cooktop.  I like to cook with gas, so this was a gas cooktop.  The oven
for me had to be electric and I wanted it to fit below the cooktop.  It
took me a lot of shopping before I could find a combination of oven and
cooktop which fit together in the same vertical space.

One other thing that most books don't talk about is the fact that I keep
recipes on my computer.  At the time I wanted to design in a place where
the computer would live.  This computer, moreover, would need to be
networked into the other computers in the house.  (Often I'm in the
livingroom when I find a recipe on the web or a friend emails me one.)
I don't want to have to physically move this recipe file, nor do I want
to have to go to the livingroom and print out the recipe.  So I wanted
to run network cable (cat 5) in the walls to the kitchen.  Well, I never
got around to doing this.  Fortunately, now that I have wifi in the
house, I just bring my laptop into the kitchen and read the recipe off
of that.  If you don't have such a laptop and you handle recipes like I
do, then maybe you'll want to plan in a place for a computer.  Even if
you don't, you may want to consider having a place in or near the
kitchen for recipe books, viewing receipts, keeping lists, coupons, and
any other paper associated with being in the kitchen.

Because everyone cooks differently, eats different kinds of food, has
their own way of entertaining, have different kinds of households, it's
difficult to provide general design principles applicable to everyone.
This is the reason why kitchens are so often customized.  One kitchen
isn't suitable for everyone.  I guess I was fortunate to have studied
phenomenology (one of the more prominent of current European
philosophies) for it makes tasks like design much more grounded and less
the product of irrelevant assumptions.  If you have specific questions,
I'd be happy to have a go at them.


Jenny Williams wrote:
> I, for one, would be very interested in your conclusions about kitchen
> design, and possibly the titles of kitchen design books you found most
> helpful.  We own a lot at Manzanita Village Cohousing in Prescott, AZ,
> and are designing our house there.  The kitchen design is what I've
> spent the most time on, but I want to make sure I'm designing it for how
> we'll actually use it.
> thanks!
> Jenny Williams
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ken [mailto:gebser [at]] 
> Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2006 5:16 AM
> To: Cohousing-L
> Subject: Re: [C-L]_ determinants of success - not just cohousing
> Steve,
> That's an astute comment about windows in the kitchen.  I'd add that in
> my kitchen I've got a window over the sink facing west.  While it's nice
> having the sun streaming in during the afternoon, I find myself nearly
> blinded by it when I'm trying to work at the sink-- which is just about
> anytime I'm doing anything in the kitchen.  I like the Dutch window
> attitude in my kitchen-- i.e., no curtains or any kind nor any "window
> treatment" at all.  (Drive around Holland and you'll see hardly a single
> curtain in any window of any house.)  It's not like there's naked people
> in the kitchen, not that often anyway.  Especially in a kitchen,
> curtains need to be washed and pressed, venetian blinds are pretty much
> a PITA dust and grime collection device, so file Dutch windows under
> "simplicity".  I also like to use the window sill as a shelf for
> oft-used and attractive items.
> When I moved into this place (which needed a complete rehad) I devised a
> plan for situating things, called the Convenient Mess Orient Plan
> (CMOP):
> When I moved in I put my boxes of stuff when I thought I might like/need
> to have them.  As I used things, I found I was moving boxes to better
> places.  Basically, I lived out of boxes for almost a month, until I
> wasn't moving them around anymore.  Then I was able to see exactly what
> I was doing and where I was doing it.  This revealed things to me that I
> wouldn't have otherwise thought of.
> CMOP Adjunct for kitchen: I made an inventory of all the kitchen stuff
> (cups, plates, cooking utensils, small appliances, napkins, etc., etc.
> having much of this in boxes in the kitchen helped here) and then on
> another sheet of paper diagrammed where in my not-yet-existing kitchen
> all of these things should eventually reside.  During this time I also
> got a dozen books out of the library on kitchen design.  Japan being a
> very crowded place and so their kitchens being rather small compared to
> American mansion-kitchens, I found books on Japanese kitchens to have a
> lot of fresh and graceful ideas.  I also decided that having anything in
> the open-- not in a cabinet or drawer-- would mean it would collect more
> dust and be subject to splatter, so I wanted to have everything possible
> tucked away.  Going on these and some other considerations, I then
> proceeded to design the kitchen.
> Small is good,
> ken
> Steve Faber wrote:
>>I think in an urban cohousing community the kitchens on the "active
>>side"  might mean something different if you are trying to be a
> little
>>village in a bigger village of a neighborhood.  One of the  issues we
>>had with our Michigan, medium density design, was the  compromise of
>>kitchen orientation and getting light into the units.  If your kitchen
>>is on the south side of your home.  Typically, much  of your wall
> space
>>is taken up by cabinets and you can't put in the  larger windows to
>>maximize passive solar.
>>On Feb 24, 2006, at 1:39 PM, Chris ScottHanson wrote:
>>>My view is the green sustainable community must include, but not be
>>>limited to the following:
>>>It must be very pedestrian oriented.  People first, cars a distant
>>>second.  Segregate cars and parking from the middle of the community.
>>>Common facilities that allow for and encourage community
>>>interaction.  In cohousing it is called the common house.  It must 
>>>allow for sharing meals on some sort of regular basis.  Having mail 
>>>here is a big help.  Having a common hearth here, or the only  hearth
>>>here can also be a big help.
>>>All private kitchens and the "active side" of the private dwelling
>>>units on the entry (community) side, toward the pedestrian  walkway. 
>>>This allows for "eyes on the street" (pedestrian street,  of course)
>>>and "ownership" of that street.  Safety and a sense of  belonging
> result.
>>>Ownership, commitment and sense of belonging that comes from
>>>participation in as many decisions as make sense.  At a minimum  this
>>>should include the programming and design of the common  facilities. 
>>>This requires careful, effective and respectful  management of
>>>prospective owners prior to project completion.  It  also requires
> the
>>>artful management of buy in and commitment.
>>>Chris ScottHanson
>>>Author - The Cohousing Handbook
>>>On Feb 22, 2006, at 7:38 AM, Rodney Wilts wrote:
>>>>Dear Cohousers,
>>>>I am working on an innovative development project where the
>>>>developer is interested in creating an environmentally friendly,
> and
>>>>community friendly development. To this end we are looking at  what
>>>>elements make for a successful community. We're looking at  both the
>>>>hardware (built environment - e.g. front porches) and  software
>>>>(recreation programs, how to create community cohesion etc).
>>>>We are hoping to draw on the expertise of the intentional 
>>>>communities movement and implement things that have worked. I  would
>>>>appreciate any feedback as to what has made your community 
>>>>successful (or unsucessful).
>>>>Rodney Wilts
>>>>One Planet Living
>>>>Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info  
>>>Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info
>>Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at: 

"This world ain't big enough for the both of us,"
said the big noema to the little noema.

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.