The home kitchen is a hot interior design and décor topic; from cabinets to countertops, appliances to kitchenware. However, one important aspect is often not given the attention it deserves, especially considering its significant effect on the health and comfort of the home’s residents.
Frying, baking, grilling and toasting food using electric or gas appliances emits odours, grease, smoke, moisture and indoor pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds. Therefore, it is critical that ventilation be given priority focus when designing, building or renovating a kitchen.
Using a cooker hood from the moment you start cooking will help minimise odours, assist with air circulation and capture particles from greasy cooking and burnt food. However, it is important that filters are cleaned or changed to ensure maximum efficiency. There is no regulation in place for cooker hoods and some have proven to only capture 15% of particles when tested, therefore other ventilation methods should be considered.
An extractor fan will help with air circulation and an air purifier can clean particles in the air; which is especially important when cooking with gas or if any of the home residents suffer from asthma.
Whichever mechanical ventilation you use, it is imperative that you design your kitchen to maximise natural ventilation. Window size, position and treatment all have an impact on how effective the natural ventilation of the space will be.
Your kitchen should have at least one opening window to allow in fresh air and natural light. Cross ventilation i.e. fresh air entering in through one window or door and exiting through another positioned at the opposite side of the room is an ideal way to keep your kitchen well ventilated and free from stale smells. Vertically stacked or floor-to-ceiling windows allow the natural flow of hot air to move up and out and be replaced with fresh cool air from below.
Shutters are not only the most practical window treatment for kitchens because of how versatile they are in controlling light and ventilation, they are also one of the most hygienic as they do not absorb odours, moisture and grease like fabric window treatments such as curtains and blinds. “Our shutters emit no volatile organic compounds into the air, and because they are so easy to keep clean they help alleviate allergies,” says Duncan Snyman, general manager of AMERICAN shutters.
“Our various shutter configurations make our shutter ranges very popular with architects and interior designers who are looking for window finishes that enhance the design of the home while working with the natural elements to improve the comfort and health of the people living there.” An example of this is the option to split the shutter panels into different sections or louvre banks, allowing the louvres to open and close independently according to privacy, natural lighting and ventilation needs.
So before you start choosing paint colour, countertops and appliances, consider your health and decide where your windows are going to go, and what shutters you will be installing.