Top tips for creating the kitchen of a left-handed person’s dreams

Lefties approach life—and their kitchens—differently. Left-handed people tend to stack dirty dishes on the right side of the sink, for instance, while dish drainers (and clean dishes) wind up on the left. And they typically see to it that the burners on the left side of the stove get more use than those on the right. Yet most all kitchens are set up so that right-handed people feel right at home—a fact that most right-handers take fully for granted.
If you’re a lefty with plans to remodel your current kitchen or build a new home, this is your opportunity to get things right. A smart kitchen is a kitchen customized to suit the person who will be spending the most time there. Customizing to suit your dominant hand can affect the placement of everything from dishwasher, sink, faucet, counter space and cooktop. Read on for lefty-friendly kitchen design tips.

“Handy” Pointers

Here’s the deal: Lefties live in a resolutely right-handed world. The microwave will always hinge to the left with the control panel on the right (seriously: try finding a lefty-minded microwave anywhere). Two-door refrigerators will always put the freezer on the left side. But there’s plenty that can be done to design a kitchen where lefties feel at ease:

Left-mounted filtered water faucet by In Detail Design

Left-mounted filtered water faucet by In Detail Design.

    • Hinge the fridge on the left instead. Many single door refrigerators have reversible doors (to suit tight spaces and odd layouts, as well as lefties) or can be reversed with a little extra effort and hardware.
    • If the faucet has a lever that’s a side mount, mount it on the left if possible. The same goes for soap dispensers and water filtration systems. Mount those accessory items to the left of the main faucet rather than the conventional right-hand side.
    • Design the dishwasher to the left of the sink rather than the right.
    • Have hardware installed so that cabinet doors open to the left.
    • Store pot holders, trivets, and pots and pans to the left of the range rather than the right.
    • Accessorize properly! Online shops like Lefty’s The Left Hand Store will sell you everything from lefty-friendly measuring cups and kitchen shears to spoons and knives and pot holders. There’s even a coffee mug that says, “I may be left-handed, but I’m always right!”
Farmhouse Double Bowl left-handed kitchen sink

Farmhouse Double Bowl NativeStone concrete kitchen sink in Ash.

Left-Handed Kitchen Sinks

For a lefty, the most meaningful adjustment to kitchen design is the sink. A kitchen sink specifically designed for a lefty is a novel option in this right-handed world. Yet any left-handed person who has washed dishes in a double-bowl sink in which the right basin is smaller than the left (as is the norm) will understand the frustration. Lefties need more room on the right side of the sink, whereas the left bowl (ideal for rinsing) will ideally be smaller. As Dustin, Native Trails’ resident lefty, puts it: “It is definitely advantageous when washing dishes to have the larger basin on the right so that you are moving dishes to your dominant side rather than reaching across the body, which usually also ends up in additional water-splashing and mess.”

Cantina Pro prep sink in Brushed Nickel for a left-handed kitchen.

Cantina Pro prep sink in Brushed Nickel.

Native Trails recently tweaked the design of dual basin copper sinks so that they can install in reverse, making this world just a little more conducive to lefties. Starting June 1, 2016, the Cocina Duet and Cocina Duet Pro will be sold so that they can be installed with the smaller basin to the left. Additionally, the Cantina Pro bar sink is set up so that the drainboard can easily be installed on the left side.
There’s a new lefty-friendly sink in our popular NativeStone® Collection: Farmhouse Double Bowl. Our first dual basin concrete kitchen sink is reversible. Each of these reversible sinks is designed to happily accommodate lefties just as well as righties.
Other manufacturers, such as Leisure Sinks and Elkay, offer stainless steel or ceramic kitchen sinks with left-handers in mind. Franke, too, offers most all of its sinks with a right-hand or left-hand drainer.

Left-handed kitchen setup by Rebekah Zaveloff

Left-handed kitchen setup by Rebekah Zaveloff

Reverse The Work Triangle

Finally, when plotting placement of appliances and other key kitchen elements, you will want to consider the “work triangle” design model that has long been observed for creating the most efficient kitchens. This model holds that the refrigerator, sink, and stove should form the points of a triangle. As such, the workflow in most kitchens moves from right to left. The food comes out of the fridge on the right, is prepared at the adjacent sink/food prep area and then moves on to the stove. In a lefty-friendly kitchen, the fridge would be to the left instead.
All of our left-handed kitchen suggestions are just that. The best kitchens are made to suit the cook, which means they are as personal and individual as possible. That said, if you have plans to sell your home, you may also want to consider how extensive modifications in a kitchen could effect resale value. As for us, we hope to leave the kitchen design world a little more lefty-favorable than we found it. In the kitchen of our dreams, there’s room for everyone.