Is the Two-Kitchen Trend Transformative or Double the Trouble?

This add on will definitely help you stay organized, but there are some cons to take into consideration before building.

remodeled modern gray, white, and wood kitchen
Photo: Nathan Kirkman

It might sound cliché to say that the kitchen is the heart of the home, but it is the space where we do a lot of living. Over the past century, the home kitchen has evolved from a workspace into a gathering spot—a change that demands sufficient room and multifunctional design. We're taught family recipes, sit at the kitchen island telling stories and sipping drinks, and hang our favorite photos and our children’s art on the refrigerator—it's truly a special place. Recently, architects and home designers have been redefining the concept of the working kitchen with a second, more function-specific space: the back kitchen.

The back kitchen—which is basically a pantry meets kitchenette or wet bar—is trending with designers, celebrities, and homeowners who want to keep certain elements of food prep out the way. Back kitchens and second kitchens are even showing up on home renovation shows like Rock the Block and Love It or List It.

kitchen buffet bar herringbone tile
Ryan Bent

The Pros of Adding a Second Kitchen

Today, second kitchens are known by many other names: prep kitchens, working kitchens, sculleries, butler’s pantries, or even dirty kitchens. They are not, however, a new concept. In fact, many Jewish families who keep Kosher opt for a second kitchen to adhere to dietary laws, separating meat and dairy products more easily.

There are other practical reasons to consider a second kitchen, too: If you have a big family or host a lot of dinner parties, a second kitchen will double your fridge, oven, and counter options for assembling, storing, and cooking multiple dishes at once. It also gives you the option of keeping every appliance, sheet pan, and bowl you need close at hand without getting in the way. But the majority of homeowners who add a second kitchen do so mainly to relegate food prep, storage, and dirty dishes to a hidden space so they can entertain guests in a spotless main kitchen.

The Cons of Adding a Second Kitchen

If you have the desire and resources to add a second kitchen, it's worth at least mapping it out. But before you break out the blueprints, it's important to understand the downsides: Having a second kitchen to hide your dirty dishes doesn’t eliminate the need to clean—unfortunately, it doubles it. That means double the floors to sweep, double the counters to wipe, and—if it’s fully outfitted—double the kitchen appliances you’ll need to purchase, maintain, and repair.

In regards to the design, if your kitchen is open concept, adding a closed-off or hidden space without breaking the effect can be difficult or might require a complete layout change. Plus, many homeowners end up taking away space from their main kitchen for the second one.

Finally, you should consider how a second kitchen will affect your socializing and quality time with your loved ones. The kitchen is known as “the most popular room in the house” because of all of the conversation and life that happens there—but if you're cooking in a separate room from your family or you're in the back kitchen while entertaining, you could miss out on some memory making. 

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