Planning a Kitchen for Two Cooks

Family lifestyles have changed in recent years. Gone are the days when one person, typically the female member of the household, shoulders all the cooking responsibilities.

In addition to family members sharing in the food preparation, the kitchen has become a social center. Often, friends and guests who drop by to visit the cook, join in the cooking process. In order to meet these changing lifestyle patterns, kitchen design has also evolved. If you're building a new kitchen, or remodeling your old one, the National Kitchen & Bath Association stresses that it is important to evaluate your needs and consider how many cooks use your kitchen.

Two (or more) cook families need to examine their patterns of meal preparation. No two cooks will prepare a meal exactly the same way, and no two people cook together the same way.

For example, do the members of your family take turns cooking? Do you prepare meals jointly? Do you cook a particular item while your spouse is responsible for a different item? Is one cook the leader and the second cook the helper?

If you answered "yes" to the first question, then your kitchen can be designed for one cook. It is not necessary to have double sinks or work stations since only one person is using each item at a time. A single cooking center which includes a microwave and range will probably be sufficient.

For the last three questions, a "yes" answer requires an entirely different type of design. These two-cook kitchens would need one large work station approximately 60 inches wide or even two separate work stations. If two work stations are decided upon, each should be no less than 36 inches wide. Space and funds permitting, it is also a good idea to provide two separate sinks. Then, each cook would have his or her own space. If this is not feasible, consider placing the sink as well as the dishwasher in a central location. It is possible to install the sink with the faucets at the side, so that a person on either side of it can reach.

Next, there is the consideration of storage space. It might not be immediately apparent that two cooks affect storage, but consider the last time you both reached for the same pot and knocked heads. To reduce these conflicts as well as reduce the number of trips required to and from cabinets to the work center, duplicate the storage space for frequently used equipment and supplies.

Finally, there is the question of walkways. Extra space should be allowed so that two cooks can pass each other without interference. Allowing 48 to 54 inches of space from obstacle to obstacle will enable two people to pass each other with bodies parallel. A distance of 60 to 64 inches would allow enough room for true walking.

As you can see, adapting your kitchen for two cooks requires more than just adding extra counter space.

National Kitchen & Bath Association
The content of this article is provided courtesy of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). At, you'll find an inspiration gallery of award-winning kitchen and bath designs from NKBA members, complete with photos and floorplans. In addition, this consumer website offers articles and tips written specifically for homeowners, an extensive glossary of kitchen and bath remodeling terms, and illustrations and explanations of kitchen and bath planning guidelines. There, you can also e-mail questions to the NKBA's kitchen and bath experts, as well as order a free copy of the NKBA Kitchen & Bath Workbook.