Special stations add versatility to your kitchen. Consider setting aside part of your kitchen for these specialized uses:
A planning center is a valuable addition to any kitchen. Less than 3 feet of wall space is enough room for a desk with a telephone and computer where you can organize recipes, have a home office, or set the kids up to do homework. Isolate the desk at the end of the kitchen, but tie it in with the kitchen's design by using cabinets and drawers that match the room's style. Make sure there's adequate lighting and storage.
To organize recycling at home, install a tall drawer with room for three or four plastic containers, each large enough to hold a standard brown paper bag, for glass, paper, plastic, or cans. Stackable plastic bins can also be used. If your home has a basement or lower-level garage, consider installing separate chutes leading directly to receptacles on the lower level. Check local building codes.
The ideal location for a baking station is between the oven and refrigerator. You'll need at least 36 inches of counter space. A counter 3 to 6 inches lower than standard is more comfortable for rolling out dough. The center should include storage for cookbooks, mixing bowls, baking utensils, small appliances, baking pans, and staples such as flour and sugar. Handy features include a marble slab for rolling dough inset in a wood counter, a sink, and a scale for weighing ingredients.
Mount a microwave oven near the refrigerator and above a counter to make an ideal center for heating and serving quick meals. If children will be using the microwave, make sure it is low enough for them to get dishes in and out without reaching or stretching too far.