Friday, July 10, 2015

The Evolution of the Kitchen

I don't know about you, but in all of my dream houses, the kitchen is where I spend the bulk of my fantasy life. The kitchen of my dreams has top-of-the-line appliances, a wine refrigerator, a TV, a desk and an upholstered chair with a really good reading lamp. It has an offshoot with a big project table and supply cabinets. It's bigger than my first apartment and would have so much storage, I'd have a drawer just for corkscrews.

In other words, if some sexist jerk told me to stay in the kitchen where I belong, I would gladly do it. After I smacked him and made myself a stiff cocktail.
I'm not alone in my kitchen-obsessed dream world. According to a recent article in REALTOR Magazine,  more homeowners are seeing their kitchens as so much more than just a place to cook. They want their kitchens to be a family gathering place, a perfect spot for casual entertaining, and the hub of the house.

This trend has been growing for some years. The American kitchen went from being a strictly utilitarian place to cook food to being elegant enough to also house a china cabinet, to having furniture comfortable enough to make you never want to leave.

For me and my many moves, my kitchens got bigger and more family friendly every time we relocated, until I found myself with a kitchen that had it all, but was chopped up and disjointed. From there, I moved into a house with the opposite - a  kitchen that was smack dab in the middle of a wide open floor plan. It had no real beginning or end, but flowed right into the rooms around it.

Depending on your family and lifestyle, you may want to jump on the bandwagon and make your kitchen the centerpiece of your home, where your family comes together, where your children do their homework, where you do your projects, and where guests gather. .
You can have that kitchen without breaking the bank and without uprooting and upgrading. There are so many ways you can transform your kitchen from the cooking place to the everything place in your home.


Create a soft, comfortable corner

This doesn't require carpet or overstuffed furniture. A few well placed pillows on a bench with warm lighting will make you and your family members want to cozy up in the kitchen, or just get out of the hustle-and-bustle without ever leaving the room.


Focus on seating

If you truly want your family and guests to gather in the kitchen, be sure there is enough seating. This doesn't mean you have to have a chair for every person. Stools, benches, kitchen table chairs that can be pulled out to be more accessible - all of these will put out the welcome mat.


Make the room more welcoming

A kitchen can be overwhelming with hard, shiny surfaces. Upholstered chair seats, throw pillows, soft patterned window treatments and other textiles can make your kitchen a place you want to be.


Think about what you want to DO in the kitchen

I never "got" the idea of having a loveseat in the kitchen until I realized that I really preferred leafing through recipes while sprawled out on a couch. I get it now!

My dream of having a separate project table in the kitchen never came to pass, but I did make sure I had a kitchen table that could withstand sewing projects, the kids' art projects, and Christmas - which in our house involves making ornaments, addressing hundreds of cards, baking tons of gifts, and building a gingerbread house.

Many parents want their children to do their homework in the kitchen, so they can keep an eye on and a hand in. If that's you, set up your kitchen so your little ones and teenagers can study how they prefer.


Don't forget about the primary purpose: cooking!

No matter how far it evolves, the kitchen has something going for it that no other room has: Food! The smell of fresh baked bread, spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove, or fresh herbs growing on the countertop - are the reason party guests will instinctively be drawn to the kitchen at any sized party in any sized home.


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

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