The wellness kitchen was a trending topic in the kitchen design world before COVID-19. Now the concept of the wellness kitchen has really taken off as people are spending more time at home and are concerned more with health and safety.
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.
Homeowners are asking their designers what can be done to make their kitchens more in tune with physical and mental health and well-being.
The wellness kitchen is especially sought after by fitness-minded Millennials, health-conscious Boomers and the sustainability-oriented Generation Z.
Where Did Wellness Design Come From?
Although wellness design is an evolving category, and there aren’t any established wellness design standards, we can say that it came out of the “green” movement of the early 2000s that focuses on avoiding toxic chemicals in the home and creating a healthy environment for people.
What Does a Wellness Kitchen Include?
As kitchen designers work to incorporate wellness features in their designs, some key essential elements have emerged. The wellness kitchen will include some or all of the following.
1. Kitchen Garden. Growing one’s own food encourages healthy eating, adds oxygen to the air, reduces dependence on grocery stores and brings a sense of accomplishment into the kitchen. Growing herbs on the windowsill is does away with buying small amounts in plastic boxes, which are not recyclable. Homeowners can start with herbs, then move on to lettuces and tomatoes.
Thanks to an increased focus on wellness, more options for indoor gardens are available. It has become easy to grow an indoor garden with LED lights and timers.
2. Compost. The benefits to composting are many, from reducing landfill waste to keeping the soil in a home garden healthy, so it is ideal for a wellness kitchen.
Today’s composting isn’t the same as your grandma’s smelly bucket under the sink. Innovative compost bins 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.
Manufacturers of cabinet storage accessories have included composting and recycling in their line of waste products.
People new to composting can start small with a stainless steel compost container from Target.
3. The Social Kitchen. An important part of a wellness kitchen design is the social component -- a kitchen that makes it possible for several people to work and socialize in, forming bonds and memories that contribute to overall health and well-being. Besides, it’s more fun to cook and eat with others.
A large island is the perfect centerpiece of the social kitchen. It will have room for food prep, room for standing and moving around, and room to sit and converse.
4. Biophilia. Biophilia is the term for incorporating nature and natural influences and materials into design. It’s part of wellness design.
People need a connection to nature, so bring the outdoors inside. Plant walls and other green growing plants, skylights and large windows connect kitchens with nature and natural light.
However, bringing nature in doesn't have to be just about house plants. Materials found in nature, such as wood and stone, are environmentally friendly and eliminate harmful toxins in the kitchen. Using nature-inspired colors also promote calm and wellness.
5. Ergonomics. Safety plays a part in a wellness kitchen. Wellness is enhanced when the principles of universal design, which includes homeowners’ ages, heights and abilities, are taken into account during the planning process.
- Non-skid floors to reduce falls
- 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
6. Simplify. Decluttering has a therapeutic effect. Simplicity soothes the eyes and the brain, and a sense of order and the ability to find things easily definitely reduces stress.
A wellness kitchen design should include lots of in-cabinet storage to get clutter off countertops and into cabinets. An appliance garage, in-drawer storage, storage solutions for corner cabinets – all important to the simple wellness kitchen.
7. Non-toxic Materials. Experts recommend using cabinetry, paint and other materials with few or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or other noxious chemicals in a wellness kitchen.
8. Ventilation. Indoor air pollution has been identified as a COVID risk. The wellness kitchen should Incorporate air purification products that minimize toxins, keep potential pollutants to a minimum and provide a clean indoor air quality. Add a radon detector to warn about unsafe levels of that major lung cancer risk, a carbon monoxide detector for each floor and working smoke alarms.
9. Light. Enlarging existing windows and adding new windows and skylights brings in natural light, which has proven health benefits. It:
- Increases productivity
- Improves moods
- Conserves energy
- Helps indoor gardens thrive
- Boosts physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing
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.
10. Appliances. Today’s cooking appliances now offer healthier food prep options: steam ovens, sous vide, air fryers. Dishwashers have high temperature sanitizing cyclesNo-touch faucets help prevent the spread of germs from dirty hands.
11. Bacteria-fighting surfaces. The wellness kitchen requires easily disinfected surfaces. Products with antibacterial glazes can help reduce the amount of harmful bacteria living in a kitchen. There are even paints that kill bacteria
12. Minimize Waste. Today’s kitchens are filled with food wrapped in disposal packaging. Kitchens designed for wellness would instead emphasize simple, fresh-grown and fresh-stored ingredients that minimize waste.
Wellness Design Includes the "Fresh Food Movement"
Homeowners interested in wellness design typically eat a minimally processed, chemical- and preservative-free, locally sourced, fresh fruit and vegetable-rich diet that requires a different kind of food storage than a traditional kitchen.
Most traditional 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. Temperature and/or humidity-controlled cabinets keep fresh food fresh. Dark and cool storage for root vegetables and apples allows them to last.
Fresh foods reduce packaging and the amount of waste sent to landfills. In a conventional kitchen, grocery items are wrapped in paper, plastic and aluminum that can leech into the food itself and add to landfills. In a wellness kitchen, fresh produce from local farms and home-grown produce has no packaging that goes into landfills. And no packaging means no harmful toxins in our food.
Concerns about COVID and having to spend more time at home has caused people seeking a new kitchen want a wellness kitchen, one that isn’t simply functional, but a space that makes it easier for them to follow a lifestyle that incorporates healthy eating and a commitment to eco-friendliness and healthy living. Wellness design is here to stay.
Sources used in this article and for further reading
Residential Products Online – Sanitizing and Antimicrobial Products
Forbes.com. Residential Design Forecast
Residential Products Online. What You Should Know About Wellness Design.
Lancaster Online.com. Building a Wellness Kitchen