Working in the kitchen depends on space, preference

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published February 4, 2015

 This remodeled kitchen in metro Detroit includes desk space.

This remodeled kitchen in metro Detroit includes desk space.

METRO DETROIT — Many adults probably remember coming home from school in their youth, slinging their backpacks on the kitchen table and then getting a start on their homework.

While some children and adults still do that today, it’s not as prevalent as it used to be.

It really comes down to how a house is divided. Older homes are notorious for not offering the abundance of space that new homes today have, especially in the form of cabinets and countertops.

This dichotomy between old and new styles of homes puts the decision firmly in the hands of the homeowner, who may decide that he or she would like 10-plus cabinets while sacrificing amenities like a large dining area or a work desk.

Brian Parinos, owner of InStyle Kitchen and Bath in Royal Oak, said that homeowners who want to use some of their primary kitchen space as an office setting do so by taking advantage of countertop space.

“Usually, some of that countertop is recruited to a computer area by the sheer extension of the granite (countertop),” Parinos said. “If you have cabinets that extend into a wall, there is no cabinet underneath it and a business chair can go underneath it and that can act as an office space.”

Chera Allers, manager at Classic Cabinets in Royal Oak, said homeowners have been known to put a desk in their kitchen and then two base cabinets on either side of the desk, with perhaps a cabinet above it. Some even want a desk built into their cabinets for ease of use.

She said a wide array of cabinets can accommodate an office — from little drawers to file cabinets and organizers. But all aspects come at different heights, so homes need dedicated areas with a strong base height to fit everything that’s wanted.

However, the trend of working in a kitchen space is not as popular as it once might have been. Both Parinos and Allers said their customers are actually requesting the removal of kitchen-based desks rather than the insertion of them.

Parinos said homeowners will usually wait to convert their kitchens later on, if that’s the style they want, but “maybe one out of 20 will have a big enough space, because it’s sort of a luxury item to have that much space for an office.”

Allers said about 95 percent of kitchens today are measured to have enough space for office use, but many find the space confining and uncomfortable. Simultaneously, cabinet space is sought by most homeowners because it “goes into the American thing of having more stuff.”

“It’s done and been done for a long time,” Allers said. “We see it in a lot of ’90s houses that have space built in, but most people don’t want to work in their kitchen. With technology, nobody’s really working at their desk anymore; they’re working at their couch.”

Allers mentioned how homes in the 1950s had nowhere near the space as homes today, with two cabinets proving to be satisfactory during that era. Even everyday tasks like cooking require copious amounts of counter space for mixers, pots and pans and other utensils. As she said, there’s a utensil for everything.

“Most of the time, it’s just another place to pile junk mail. Just from my experience, people are mostly getting rid of them,” she said of kitchen office space. “Mainly, people are upgrading their kitchen and accommodating larger appliances. People have more and more.”

Parinos mentioned how a local band came into his store one day and requested the knocking out of a wall to make room for an extended kitchen, which included a desk and working space.

But beyond hanging a chalkboard in the kitchen to keep track of groceries and kids’ schedules, the kitchen office is becoming less popular.

“It’s very rare because you have to have a big enough kitchen to justify moving the cabinets,” Parinos said.