Every now and then you come across something that changes you forever.
One of those things was the kitchen in our first apartment. It was truly the center and heart of our home, and the space lent itself perfectly to it. It was the place where everyone naturally ended up, where we shared our stories and our lives, where we sat chatting late into the night. It was a place filled with love and laughter, and where many memories were shaped.
It didn’t look like much, but the thing about this specific kitchen was that it simply worked really well. The layout of appliances and cupboards, the usable work surfaces, and the proximity of water was simply perfect. I could take things from the fridge and plonk it down on the island directly behind me, shuffle one step and start rinsing – the prep bowl was right there. Then take the chopping board from the cupboard below, zap things it in the pan behind me – and chop-chop it was done.
What a pleasure to cook when things just work well.
We found ourselves spending more time in our kitchen, and eating out less and less (which had been one of our favourite past times). Slowly we started experimenting more with recipes and became more creative with what we cooked. I’m sure it involved various glasses of wine too – but I’m blaming the kitchen for that.
Cooking became a huge part of our life. A ritual. Once the kids are in bed, it is our special time together. And my husband turned out to be quite a natural! : )
The other thing about this kitchen was that it was so easy to have company while we cooked. The space literally invited people to stay and chat, grab a chair and even help with the chopping. It had a central work island, and a seated peninsula behind that. Because one could sit on both sides of the counter, we mostly ended up having hearty meals with family and friends right there in the kitchen. It was a natural flow of events. We had great times there.
That kitchen had a wonderful effect on us, it made entertaining so easy. Whereas before, it was (stressful) extravagant affairs with pressed tablecloths and formal seating – still love to those every now and then – but this kitchen helped us to relax about entertaining in general. Things just happened naturally, it was interactive, and everybody had more fun. Thanks goodness!
Other pleasures about this kitchen was the lighting. Natural light streamed through the large windows and reflected off the pale cupboards – making the room light and airy. Artificial light was well thought through, and it had a funky pendant light above the seated counter that could be pulled up and down and dimmed to a warm glow – perfect for an intimate meal.
Small things like that set the mood in a way that made us want to spend more meals around the table, un-rushed, and together. Dinner became family institution, a time to connect and enjoy.
On a practical note, it helped of course that the kitchen had cupboard space galore, reaching right up to the (very high) ceiling. We had a full length, double door grocery cupboard, and plenty of space to spare just under those high ceilings – and with a small folding ladder in the cupboard, it was easy to reach.
I could pack out my ever-growing collection of decorative vases with ease (I can’t stop, it’s my weakness). Needless to say, it did’t take very long to fill all those empty shelves – it would be sin to leave them bare!
Eventually we had to move from that lovely kitchen.
But I am forever thankful to whoever designed that space. It influenced the way we lived, and had an impact on every kitchen I designed thereafter.
I’m forever trying to achieve the same practical simplicity of that first kitchen.
My short list of design tips for your kitchen:
- Careful space planning – close to your fridge you need plonk-down space, a rinsing bowl, working surface, and your cooker
- If you are so inclined, and the space allows – make space for others to join in, and have chairs on both sides of the counter
- Light, light and more light – the biggest windows possible to flood you with natural light; and plenty flexible light options – for specific tasks, general background light, to highlight a feature, to set the mood.
- Clever storage space – you always need more than you think. Use the space well.
Please tell me:
Are you lucky enough to have, or have had a kitchen that just worked for you. What was it that made is nice for you?
Is there something in your house that changed the way you live, interact, entertain – good or bad? I’d love to hear about it.
If you want to make the right choices form the start AND love your space, contact me for an online or in-person consultation
Love your space
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