This Is the Ultimate Kitchen Layout for Serious Home Chefs

A dirty kitchen allows a home’s primary kitchen to stay clean and ready for entertaining, minimizes cooking odors, and provides additional storage space for food and cooking supplies.
Deirdre Mundorf Avatar
dirty kitchen - back kitchen and pantry

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Open floor plans are becoming increasingly popular. They improve the traffic flow around a home’s living spaces, make it easier to entertain and socialize, and can help families feel a sense of togetherness, even when in separate rooms.

However, there are some drawbacks to having an open floor plan. Meal prep and cooking take place in the kitchen, and keeping all the associated messes hidden from guests is very difficult. Enter the dirty kitchen. Dirty kitchens keep the main kitchen clean and provide a separate space for cooking and food prep. While they aren’t for everyone, and may not be feasible to work into every existing floor plan, adding a dirty kitchen to a home may be the ideal solution for serious home chefs or individuals who entertain with a catering staff regularly.

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What Is a Dirty Kitchen?

dirty kitchen - kitchen counter with food prep

A dirty kitchen is a secondary kitchen in a home that is used to cook, prepare catering and meals for guests, clean dishes, and more. Basically, the dirty kitchen takes over all the heavy-lifting tasks that can make a kitchen look cluttered or dirty. Having a dirty kitchen allows the home’s primary kitchen to stay neat, tidy, and in the ideal condition for entertaining guests.

Also known as a caterer’s kitchen, back kitchen, or scullery kitchen, a dirty kitchen includes all the major appliances found in the main kitchen, such as a refrigerator, stove, microwave, and dishwasher. It can also provide additional storage space for small appliances or specialized cooking equipment.

Dirty kitchens aren’t for everyone, though. Not all home floor plans offer enough space to accommodate a second kitchen, and many individuals don’t do the type of cooking or entertaining that would warrant the investment of money and space to such a cause. For home chefs or those who regularly entertain and want to show off a clean home and pristine modern kitchen, however, a dirty kitchen offers an ideal solution.

Uses for a Dirty Kitchen

dirty kitchen - woman looking into fridge

There are several dirty kitchen designs and layout options to consider. The ideal layout will vary based on how you plan to use the space. Below are several uses for a dirty kitchen.

Food Prep Space

One way to use your dirty kitchen is for preparing food. Whether you’re engaging in a week’s worth of meal prep for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners or chopping up lots of vegetables for a stew, a prep kitchen can provide you with ample space to complete tasks such as these while still keeping the main kitchen clean.

Entertaining With Caterers

Dirty kitchens are a welcome addition to homes that frequently hire caterers. They give the caterers a space to lay out and prepare the various courses that they will be serving to your guests. Without a dirty kitchen, the only alternative is to have the caterers work in the main kitchen, which can add chaos to the gathering and take away from the overall ambiance and image you’re trying to project.

Small Appliance and Cookware Storage

We all have so many cooking gadgets and small appliances these days that they can take over a kitchen. You’ll gain extra storage space when you add a dirty kitchen to your home that can be used to free up room in the primary kitchen. This can help keep your counters from looking cluttered with too many gadgets and tools. It could also provide you with more flexibility to use your cabinets to showcase china or glassware.

Keeping Odors Out of Living Spaces

Some foods give off strong odors as they’re cooking. Kitchen odors can migrate to nearby living spaces, such as the dining room or living room. This can put a damper on entertaining and cause people to feel less comfortable in your home. Using a dirty kitchen—which is often more removed from the main living areas of a home—can help minimize these cooking odors.

Cleaning Dishes

After enjoying a meal, whether with a few family members or a large group of guests, there is always a huge pile of dishes to clean. With a dirty kitchen, you don’t need to worry about an unsightly mess taking over your kitchen sink and kitchen counters. Rather, the mess can be moved out of sight and taken care of after the guests have left.

Building a Dirty Kitchen

dirty kitchen - modern interior with island

As you plan your ideal prep kitchen layout, there are a number of features you’ll want to integrate into your design. Use the dirty kitchen ideas below to help ensure that your dirty kitchen functions as you desire.

  • Large sink, smaller produce-washing sink, cooktop, oven, and microwave
  • Plenty of counter space for prepping meals and housing small appliances
  • Easy-to-clean kitchen cabinets, flooring, and other surfaces
  • Ample space for multiple people to move around and cook or prepare food
  • Task lighting to illuminate work spaces
  • Pantry and cabinet storage space for food, small appliances, dishes, and other cooking necessities
  • A good exhaust fan or range hood to ensure adequate ventilation for reduced cooking odors

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