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Is your kitchen the heart of your home?

Lewes17266 Sep 16, 2009 06:01 AM

If your kitchen is really the heart of your home please tell me why. What kinds of things do you do in your kitchen other than cook and eat?

  1. j
    Janet from Richmond Sep 16, 2009 07:05 AM

    Our den opens into the kitchen and together they are the heart of the home, so to speak. When we have family or friends over, people gather in the kitchen, den and weather permitting the deck in a way that it often becomes one big group. The kitchen is great for gossiping and drinking as well as cooking and eating.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Janet from Richmond
      Lewes17266 Sep 16, 2009 07:56 AM

      One of our first and least expensive homes was probably my favorite because of the way the small kitchen opened up onto a screened porch which had an attached deck that led to a very private fenced backyard. We had some good times in those small but functional spaces. We were able to have some good parties there and good personal and peaceful quiet times as well. There is just something nurturing about bringing the outdoors into living quarters.

    2. corneygirl Sep 16, 2009 08:32 AM

      For sure, the only other room that we spend any time in (awake). Rearranged a while back so now the kitchen opens to the living room, so that gets more use but really the stereo just get's more use. I study at the kitchen table even though I have a desk, we sit and have a drink and unwind at the end of the day. The windows overlook an intersection with lots of pedestrian traffic, so we watch drunk kids stumble home late at night as well.

      1. b
        breakfastfan Sep 16, 2009 02:45 PM

        After we remodeled, the kichen was opened to the rest of the house, but when we have company I can't move them to the rest of the house! We have a deck off the kitchen, a dining room that seats 12, and the living room you can see from the kitchen, but NO everyone sits on the bench at the kitchen windows, stands around the counter and talks to the cook.
        I love it!

        1. iluvcookies Sep 16, 2009 06:31 PM

          My new kitchen is significantly larger and brighter than the old one... now I sit at the kitchen table (I have a real one now--not just a breakfast bar) to read. I arrange flowers and grow herbs on the windowsill. And DH can now sit at the table and talk to me while I cook and not get in the way. It was the first room I unpacked when we moved in (the first thing I did was plug in the coffeepot) if that's any indication :)

          5 Replies
          1. re: iluvcookies
            j
            jesoda Sep 17, 2009 07:53 AM

            I just moved 2 weeks ago and my kitchen is the only room that is completely unpacked and organized. We sit and have a pre dinner drink, chat, my son does his homework at the kitchen table, he plays with his moonsand at the kitchen table while I'm making or cleaning up dinner. I now have a nice 8x8 4 season porch attached to my kitchen, I can't wait to get the construction materials out of that room so it can become an extension of the kitchen.

            1. re: jesoda
              n
              Normandie Sep 17, 2009 07:18 PM

              Just wanted to say congratulations. (The four-season porch sounds lovely.) I hope you enjoy many years of good health and happiness in your new home.

            2. re: iluvcookies
              n
              Normandie Sep 17, 2009 07:25 PM

              I'm chuckling about your DH not getting in the way.

              My most favorite house ever had one flaw--a U-shape kitchen counter, in which one leg of the U separated the work area from the kitchen table. I don't know why, but whenever we hosted a party, people who weren't actually helping with the food and clean-up loved to come stand inside the U with me and those of my girlfriends who *were* helping me.

              So I "got smart" when designing this house, set up a large island that runs parallel to the cooktop/main prep counter and separates that from the main traffice aisle. I also set the table space at a convenient distance away. Wouldn't you know it? For whatever reason, hubby likes to stand and hang-out in my main prep/cooking aisle. He's not a cook (though he IS a chowhound, LOL), so he's not there to help me. He just likes to run interference between me, my oven, my cooktop, my sink and my refrigerator. :-)

              1. re: Normandie
                iluvcookies Sep 18, 2009 05:50 AM

                MY DH will eat whatever I cook (especially if it contains bacon) chowish or not. He is the "iron stomach" of the family.
                Before with limited counter space we tripped over each other. Now there is a small counter area between the stove and fridge that he uses to fix whatever he wants while I'm cooking or he can sit at the table and see me while I cook.

                I would have thought a U-shape would be ideal, but I see your problem there... and for your current setup, can you put a stool in a convenient spot (for you) so that your DH can be with you in the kitchen but not in the way?

                1. re: iluvcookies
                  n
                  Normandie Sep 18, 2009 11:30 AM

                  Yes, that's my goal (our goal). One would have thought he could sit at the table--it is in the same room, after all :-D--but for whatever reason he loves that work aisle, LOL. Same thing with the guests and the U-shape. I've tried not to complain too much about either situation, because, after all, it's kind of a compliment when people want to hang out with you...except that under those circumstances, as the cook, I'm not actually "hanging out". :-) The island isn't huge, but we did a section of it with a higher counter so we could put a couple of stools there eventually.

                  I like your approach with the small separate counter area. Very smart. I have one section of wall where I plan to do the same thing. The plumbing from one of the bathrooms runs right down the wall behind it, so it should be (relatively) easy to put in a little prep sink, put the coffee and microwave over there, since hubby uses the microwave primarily and I don't use it much. We had to fire the contractor near the end of the process, but after we received the CO, so a few things remain works in progress. But that's turned out to be okay, in one way, because it's given us a chance to live in it and make some changes.

            3. Paulustrious Sep 17, 2009 11:30 AM

              It is now. When we rebuilt our kitchen I took a wall out so the kitchen and the den became one. The big island unit separates the cooking 'triangle' from the bar seats on the other side of the island. Now I can cook while my company drink, nibble and comment. The hi-fi delivers music if we wish. My guests can escape to the deck. The big plasma screen on the far side of the den is visible so I can even watch both the TV and my delectable SO while crying over split onions.

              Best $(very-large-number) we ever spent.

              1. n
                Normandie Sep 17, 2009 07:12 PM

                Yes, I think it is. It's the largest room on the first floor, and I planned it that way. (We custom built the house four years ago.) It's not an open floorplan house; it's very traditional, but the kitchen runs two-thirds of the length of the back half of the house, so you can see into it from the front entry hall. You can't see the appliances or the working area, but you see to the farm table where we all hang out and beyond the table through French doors to our woods and little New England mountainette.

                As with Janet from Richmond's home, our kitchen connects on one end via a double-width doorway to a den that has a very large, prominent fireplace with a beautiful Georgian surround and mantel. It feels in the colder months like the fireplace is part of the kitchen, too. This is also the brightest room in the house during the day due to a Southern exposure, the aforementioned French doors (that don't as yet have a deck or patio to lead to, but that will come) and triple sash windows over my most frequently used cooking space. We have a lot of raptors on our property and wild turkeys and sometimes the deer venture fairly close to the house, so hubby and I spend a lot of time here watching for them. I'm in the kitchen now. I do all our bill-paying, paperwork and planning (including menu and shopping planning) here, and the laundry room and pantry connect to the kitchen on the end opposite the den . We put our best television the kitchen, because we're insatiable baseball fans and during baseball season we eat dinner in here so we can watch the game. (During the winter we eat in the dining room.) We hung our most treasured paintings here. This is where we put our Christmas tree, and we can enjoy it obviously while we're in the kitchen or in the adjacent den. (In years when I get around to it I'll put smaller trees in the "formal" (not that formal) living room and in the dining room, but this is where the main tree goes.) This is where hubby hangs out with me over a cuppa after he comes home from work, to discuss the events of the day or watch the sports news. The only other room I spend appreciable time in is the master bedroom, my second favorite room in the house.

                So, yes, I'd say the kitchen is heart (and brain center) of our home.

                1. flourgirl Sep 19, 2009 10:12 AM

                  We own a 1960s ranch and the main floor is only about 1800 s.f. The kitchen used to be cut off from the rest of the living area by a very ill-placed and ill-conceived dining room. We ditched the dining room and made one really big kitchen. It contains two tables, one a more formal type dining table (which doubles as additional counter space for me if I need it) and another fairly large square breakfast bar-like table with counter height chairs. We use the space every day (as opposed to NEVER using the old, cramped dining room.) The taller table sits in the space that used to be the dining room. There is a beautiful window there looks out onto the back yard, framed by a large maple tree. My son and DH hang out there all the time while I'm cooking. (There's a tv in the corner too.) I have my morning coffee there, leaf through my cookbooks, hang with friends etc. And now the kitchen is both next to the sun room, which opens onto the deck, (which overlooks the inground pool) and the family room, where the fireplace is located. So even though it's a pretty small house, it's a very livable house and really perfect for casual entertaining. I doubt we'll leave this house until we retire (and only then because we just can't keep paying these ridiculous property taxes here in Jersey....)

                  1. vorpal Sep 20, 2009 11:38 AM

                    Absolutely not. And there's nothing more that I dislike when entertaining than having my guests congregate in the kitchen. The combination living / dining room is where they should be and out of my hair as I finish preparing the food. I let it be known when I have guests that they are not to mill around watching me cook and will be banished from the kitchen if they try.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: vorpal
                      q
                      queencru Sep 20, 2009 02:57 PM

                      I was waiting for someone to say that. What I look for in a home is a closed off kitchen that encourages others to stay out. Like you, I prefer a combination living/dining area where everyone can stay. I just get really bothered having to look at dirty dishes after everyone is finished, and with a separate kitchen area, I can just plunk everything down and leave it there until I'm ready to clean it up. I think it's interesting to see how different people will feel about what type of space the kitchen should be.

                      1. re: queencru
                        vorpal Sep 20, 2009 03:57 PM

                        An excellent point! On nearly the same note, it's also a nice place to hide dirty dishes so that guests don't have to look at them while the entertainment is going on. I would suspect that stacks of visible dirty dishes, unsightly as they are, might inspire some guests to roll up their sleeves and start cleaning, and that's the last thing I want!

                        Seems like everyone else that's replied feels the opposite of us... Glad to hear that I'm not alone!

                        1. re: vorpal
                          n
                          Normandie Sep 20, 2009 04:47 PM

                          No, you're not alone at all. I actually *don't* disagree with you and queen, vorpal--well, at least when we have guests. I like that the kitchen is the heart of our home when it's just us, but I know exactly what you're saying. When others are here, I really *don't* want them in the kitchen. I take cooking seriously, and I like to concentrate, so I don't accidentally slice the tip of my finger off, forget to serve the course I worked on for four hours the previous night, or bump into a guest and dump the boiling pasta on them on my way to drain it. But...sigh...for whatever reason, in whatever house I've had, and whoever the guests are, they seem to wander out to Command Central. As I said earlier, I suppose I should consider that a compliment, but I really wish they found the living room sofas as fascinating as they seem to find the mess in the kitchen when it's in full gear. :-)

                          1. re: Normandie
                            q
                            queencru Sep 20, 2009 05:07 PM

                            I never got why when I watch HGTV shows with "people who like to entertain" they always feel like they have to have the huge, open floor plan that includes a completely open kitchen. People entertained for years with separate kitchen areas and it didn't really seem to stop the party any.

                            1. re: Normandie
                              flourgirl Sep 21, 2009 05:24 AM

                              I feel the same way that Normandie does. Most of the time it's just "us" and I would intensely dislike a closed off kitchen because I would be shut away from the rest of the family whenever I was cooking. (We had the closed off kitchen and I hated it.) But I also intensely dislike when people watch me when I'm cooking for company. We don't do that much entertaining, but when we do, I usually prepare things that can be made ahead of time so I avoid most of that.

                              As for the mess, I just don't care. Nothing's perfect.

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