The Wellness Kitchen and You
The wellness kitchen was a trending topic in kitchen design before COVID-19. Now the concept of the wellness kitchen has really taken off as people are concerned more with health and safety and are spending more time at home. Because of the pandemic, people are thinking more than ever: how can I make my kitchen a healthy place for me and my family?
The current wellness trend has gained momentum in the past two years, with the global pandemic focusing attention on the link between people’s homes and their health.
In his editorial in the June/July issue of Kitchen and Bath Design News, Eliot Sefrin reports that kitchen and bath space planners and other residential design professionals are currently dealing with demographic changes, technological innovations and product trends, all due to the impact of COVID and its lingering effects.
A recent report by the American Society of Interior Designers revealed that health and wellness has become a top priority of homebuyers and remodeling clients. People want simpler, cleaner, easier-to-maintain designs. Further, they want products that promote a sense of wellbeing and an escape from modern-day stress. ASID predicts that wellness features and “healthy design” will soon become nearly universal in new and remodeled homes.
Kitchen designers are incorporating wellness into their kitchens because their experience has taught them that design choices can affect homeowners’ well-being. More now than ever, homeowners are asking their designers what they can do to bring their kitchens in line with physical and mental health and well-being.
Let’s look at what kitchen designers are reporting goes into their wellness kitchen designs.
What Is a Wellness Kitchen?
Kitchen design professionals report that the pandemic and a desire for one’s home to be a safe and healthy space has generated an increased interest in ways to make a remodeled kitchen become a “wellness” kitchen. The kitchen should be flexible, efficient and adaptable for multitasking. Plus, it needs to function well and contribute to everyone’s safety.
It’s no longer good enough for kitchens to look nice, homeowners want them to help them feel good too.
Where Did Wellness Design Come From?
Before COVID, the “green” movement of the early 2000s focused on avoiding toxic chemicals in the home and creating a healthy environment for people. Cabinet manufacturers got onboard by reducing or eliminating VOCs in their products, from plywood to finishing materials. (See #8 in the following list.)
What Does the Wellness Kitchen Include?
Kitchen designers who are incorporating wellness features into their designs report that their wellness kitchens include some or all of the following 13 items.
1. The Social Kitchen
Having the space to socialize is an important part of a wellness kitchen. Enjoying the company of family and friends in your kitchen contributes to everyone’s overall health and well-being.
A large island is the perfect centerpiece of the social kitchen, with room for food prep, room for standing and moving around and room to sit and converse.
2. Bring the Outdoors In with a Kitchen Garden
Growing your own food encourages healthy eating, adds oxygen to the air and reduces your dependence on grocery stores. Not to mention, gardening provides a sense of accomplishment, no matter how large or small your garden is. These factors make it a perfect addition to your wellness kitchen.
Thanks to an increased focus on wellness, more options for indoor gardens are available than ever before. You can easily grow an indoor garden with LED lights and timers.
The internet is filled with resources, such as Epicgardening.com that has an entire section devoted to indoor gardening for beginners. The amount you spend on gardening supplies can vary from a modest investment to a serious outlay of cash. Gardeners.com has everything you could possibly need.
Composting has many benefits, from reducing landfill waste to keeping the soil in your home garden healthy. Thus, it’s an ideal part of the wellness kitchen.
Composting in today’s wellness kitchen isn’t the same as your grandma’s smelly bucket under the sink. Now you can get compost bins that hide food waste without adding smell or fruit flies to your kitchen. Whirlpool’s Zera Food Recycler transforms food scraps into compost within 24 hours.
As a result of the interest in composting, manufacturers of cabinet storage accessories have included composting and recycling in their line of waste products. And if you’re new to composting, you can start small with a stainless steel compost container from Target.
Color has a huge influence on a person’s mood. The way colors are used in design has become a part of the wellness kitchen. Certain colors and patterns effect the human brain, so using nature-inspired colors promotes calm and wellness.
This article in Better Homes & Gardens details how to bring Mother Nature’s color palette into your remodeled wellness kitchen.
Removing clutter from countertops and work areas is therapeutic. Being able to find things when you need them reduces stress, a big step towards wellness. Simplicity and a sense of order soothes your eyes and brain.
To keep clutter under control and out of sight, your wellness kitchen should include lots of in-cabinet storage to get your “stuff” off countertops and into cabinets. For example, an appliance garage, in-drawer storage, storage solutions for corner cabinets are all important components in the simplified wellness kitchen.
6. Health Benefits of Universal Design | Ergonomics.
According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people (15% of the global population) live with some type of disability. Wellness is enhanced when the homeowners’ ages, heights and abilities are taken into account during the kitchen design planning process. Ergonomics, aging-in-place principles and universal design let people focus on the important things in life, such as enjoying family and friends. As a result, incorporating living-in-place standards can help to create more comfortable, functional, healthy and safe spaces.
Here’s a few starting points. Your kitchen designer will have more suggestions.
- Non-skid floors
- Dishwasher height raised so the top and bottom racks are at a comfortable height
- Different seating heights at the island to accommodate all family members
- Deep drawers organized so that contents can be accessed easily and moved efficiently
Biophilia is defined as the human instinct to connect with nature and other living beings. The term comes from the Greek words for “life” and “love” or “affection.” Thus, its literal translation is “love of life.”
Humans need a connection to nature, so the wellness kitchen brings the outdoors inside. Plant walls, green growing plants, skylights and large windows bring together kitchens with nature.
Connecting with nature contributes to your physical health and psychological well-being. Further, it helps to reduce stress and improve mood and creativity.
However, bringing nature in doesn’t have to be just about house plants. Materials found in nature, such as wood and stone, further the human-nature connection. Whether we’re aware of the benefit or not.
8. Non-toxic Materials
The wellness kitchen evolved from the “green” movement of the early ’00s. Therefore, it’s not surprising that cabinetry, paint and other materials with few or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or other noxious chemicals are a “must have” for the your wellness kitchen. Reputable manufacturers freely disclose the levels of VOCs in their products.
Adding new windows and skylights and possibly enlarging existing windows will bring in lots of natural light. And lots of natural light in your wellness kitchen has proven health benefits, which are:
- boosted physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing
- increased productivity
- helping Indoor gardens thrive
- reduced energy use
To add to the natural light in a wellness kitchen, use LEDs. LED lighting is long lasting and energy friendly. Beyond that, LED lights can minimize seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is definitely not healthy.
The wellness kitchen incorporates air purification products that provide clean indoor air quality. Your kitchen designer can discuss with you how to best accomplish reducing VOC limits for interior paints, coatings, adhesives, sealants, insulation and flooring.
Your designer may also recommend a radon detector to warn about unsafe levels of radon, a major lung cancer risk. Further, a carbon monoxide detector for each floor and working smoke alarms are essential.
Today’s cooking appliances now offer healthier food prep options, such as steam ovens, sous vide and air fryers. Dishwashers have high temperature sanitizing cycles. And no-touch faucets help prevent the spread of germs from dirty hands.
12. Bacteria-fighting Surfaces
13. Reduce Waste | The Fresh Food Movement
In a wellness kitchen, food storage, preparation, cooking and disposal are all about fresh food and organic ingredients. Food from the grocery store comes wrapped in paper and plastic that adds to landfills. Kitchens designed for wellness would include storage for foods that minimize waste.
In a wellness kitchen, fresh produce from local farms and home-grown produce has no packaging that goes into landfills.
Most refrigerators, cabinets and pantries are designed to store pre-packaged foods. But fresh ingredients need to be stored so that freshness and nutritional value are maintained.
14. Touch-free Environment
Homeowners want touchless living environments to lower the likelihood of infection. They want items like motion-sensor kitchen and bath faucets and lighting controls; no-touch hardware for cabinets and vanities and smart-home technology that reduces the need for them to touch countertops and other surfaces.
Wellness design is here to stay. Concerns about COVID and because they are spending more time in their homes, people looking for a new kitchen want one that isn’t simply functional, but one that makes it easier for them to follow a lifestyle that incorporates healthy eating and a commitment to eco-friendliness and healthy living.
Sources used in this article and for further reading
- Jamie Gold, in her book Wellness By Design
- Residential Products Online – Sanitizing and Antimicrobial Products
- Forbes.com. Residential Design Forecast
- Residential Products Online. What You Should Know About Wellness Design.
- Wellness Kitchen Design Trends
- Lancaster Online.com. Building a Wellness Kitchen
- Article in K+BB November 2021
- Kitchen & Bath Design News June/July 2022
KDP exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.