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The perfect kitchen?

I keep seeing magazine articles about Gourmet Kitchens. And sometimes they really make me wonder if you really need all that space. Some of them seem to be the size of football fields!

I myself have a tiny kitchen. It's about 8' x 10' and has all the basics fridge, dishwasher, and a lovely O'Keefe and Merrit stove from the 40's. NIce window over the sink, and white tile with white cabinets. Oddly I've discovered that I love cooking in it, as opposed to some of big, fancy kitchen's I've cooked in. Everything is right there! I call it my one step kitchen. So while I do get a bit of envy when i see these grand kitchens, really I'm quite happy in mine. I really think it's one of my favorite kitchens!

What is/was your favorite kitchen? And does size really matter? ;)

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  1. I have a smallish galley style apartment kitchen, maybe 6' x 10'. The only other kitchen I routinely cook in is my parents' 15' x 15' mammoth. My apartment kitchen could do with a few more square feet of counter space and upgraded appliances, but I much prefer it to my parents'. I can't have the oven and the dishwasher open at the same time, but the fridge is only one step away from the cutting board...

    1. You already know the answer to your question about The Perfect Kitchen -- there ain't no such thing. These are extremely personal rooms and must fit the personality, work habits and quirks of the cooker who inhabits the kitchen. If we happen to inject some beauty in our kitchens, so much the better, but basically, they are work rooms. Real working kitchens have a beauty of their own and they're rarely picture-perfect because they are in use.

      Magazine "Gourmet" (God, how I despise that word) kitchens generally are photographs meant to create unease and unhappiness with the status quo thereby conceiving the desire to change the reader's own environment. This makes the magazine advertizers very happy since they are the purveyors of the wished-for goods. One hand washes the other ..... with the reader left wishing for the impossible.

      If every high-end range & fridge, copper pot and Le Creuset Dutch oven was used for its intended purpose - creating delicious food - the world would be a better fed place. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Good food is produced with care, not requiring expensive "must-have" gear in picture-perfect rooms created by designers who may or may not cook themselves. A real kitchen (contrasted with a "Gourmet" kitchen) might be tiny or it could be large but you can bet the farm that it will be well-used.

      Because my late husband was a career Naval officer, I have a lot of kitchens in my history. Some were better than others. A memorable very old house in Alexandria VA had the classic "One Butt Kitchen". I could only serve three dinner plates at a time because there was not room for more. The stove was a Ken & Barbie model with the fridge in another room. Yet we ate very well in this teeny house. In Coronado, I had a small U-shaped kitchen that was very efficient and I loved it with my whole heart. In another house, with a larger kitchen, the plan was horrible and I logged miles when working in there. I have cooked on a sailboat where I never moved my feet, simply turning to reach the cooler, stove and what passed for countertops, if they happened to be free of charts, etc. Today, I have the luxury of a well-designed kitchen that is a joy to use. Is it perfect? It's as perfect as I can make it - for me - but would drive another chef to drink. This is mine, not someone else's version of what it could/should be. I'm far from perfect and would be intimidated by The Perfect Kitchen so am thankful that it ain't happening.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Sherri

        Perfect, Sherri, along with Karl S's comments. My kitchen, as many, was designed within the existing walls. It works great for me. We do house exchanges and almost every kitchen works great for me. Granted with the exchanges, I travel with a few necessities, i.e., chef's knife, microplane grater. I'm easy to please. And all the high end fixtures? They wouldn't make me a better cook. My cabinets came from Ikea, countertops are laminate, sink is stainless steel from Home Depot for under $200. I DO have a new induction range but the cookware is a $200 Circulon set from Costco. A neighbor has all the most expensive brands of everything. She doesn't enjoy cooking and therefore isn't a good cook. I have a working kitchen with the right tools for me. So that's My Perfect Kitchen.

      2. I have a decently sized eat-in kitchen in the apt. (bottom half of a house) that I'm currently renting. Excellent on the cabinets except for "big ticket items" (mixer, crockpot, etc.); chintzy on the counter space.

        I'm looking for a townhouse, and would prefer a separate dining room area - even if it's just off the kitchen in its own space.

        What I *really* want is more counter space and storage space. I don't have to have an island either. Depends on the walk space around it (and what type of storage it has). Some islands I've seen take up the real space of a kitchen, and they seem useless to me as the kitchen is too small for an island.

        What I would love is an actual pantry room - even if it's a small tiny walk-in room at the end of the kitchen - where I could put the majority of my food items. I'd prefer that to storing things over the stove. I have a double-door pie safe that I use for my current pantry (and liquor cabinet) but depending on storage in the new place, I'll give that away.

        1. A perfect kitchen is a kitchen designed to work well. It should be a place where spills and grease and stains and detritus can fly around, be cleaned up with efficiency, but not feel like you've spoiled it. It should be a place where pans with stains that cannot be removed look at home. it should not look like it's designed to be looked at as an object d'art.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Karl S

            So, clearly, this disgusting CARPETED KITCHEN I inherited when we bought the house 7 years ago doesn't cut it. BLEAH.

            All our money goes to colleges and stuff, still. No cash to replace it. You should see what happens when someone accidentally dumps the cranberry sauce on the floor....

            1. re: Beckyleach

              Oh, my sympathies! A carpeted kitchen? You've gotta wonder what the previous owners were thinking. Or weren't.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                Hey, they were thinking, it's 1970 and we're current! Had one of these in a duplex the year we got married. I thought it was all that and more. My parents even covered their hardwood kitchen floor with one. Unbelievable.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  I'm pretty sure they were thinking (since I peeked in the fridge when I was touring the house) "We live on frozen pizzas and peanut butter and jelly. Everyone does, right?" and didn't cook and thus didn't make mess.

                  My theory received further support via the fact that they left us a 16cf refrigerator...and they were a family of four. WE just got a 26 cf and put the "baby" downstairs, and still---with the garden produce, the relishes, the fermenting sauerkraut and yogurt and so forth--they're usually full.

                  At least I'm no longer trying to keep the carpet "nice." To hell with it!

            2. My kitchen is really small - a narrow galley kitchen with a two burner gas range, about 2.5 ft of counter space, a single sink, and enough room on the other side for a small dish drainer. The microwave, toaster oven, small appliances, about half the food storage and the refrigerator have to go in the next room.

              What I would like is room to put the refrigerator and other appliances, the addition of a proper oven, rather than just a toaster oven, a double sink so you can do dishes while cooking, and a lot more counter space, so you don't have to wash the cutting board and put it away before mixing something in the mixing bowl. I would really like to be able to fit things like the toaster oven, kettle, bread maker and rice cooker in the kitchen, so they don't heat up the living room during the summer.

              1. Size as in height. If I could add to my kitchen, I'd have a baking area, with a lower marble countertop so I could knead, bake, easily. I'm fine in my small kitchen, except when I entertain larger numbers of people, then I wish I had a large buffet, or room for a large buffet. And, I don't have room for dirty dishes so I have to clean dishes between courses so I can serve the next course. I don't know anyone IRL with a big fancy kitchen who actually cooks.

                1. I have a terrible little apartment building kitchen. But I have prepared French Laundry recipes and other complicated multi pot affairs to great success. When I become rich my kitchen will be a bright cathedral of functional beauty. There will lots of stone and steel, powerful gas burners and wood ovens. Pots and knives positioned to the point of ergonomic ecstacy. One wall will be floor to ceiling glass with big doors opening out onto a wide deck overlooking old growth forest with chirping birds. There will be a trap door in the floor leading to my catacomb like wine cellar. Yup.

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: haggisdragon

                      But wait -- you forgot the corner area with the fireplace and enough room for two comfortable armchairs, a bookcase to hold your cookbooks and murder mysteries, a reading lamp and a small table where your wine glass or coffee cup will sit.

                    2. I am lucky/rich enough to be building my perfect kitchen from scratch. My current kitchen is not very small, about 11x16, but it's got certain deficiencies that I am fixing in the new one. The most critical issue has absolutely nothing to do with cooking--I want more seating space in the kitchen, because people always want to crowd in there while I'm cooking. So the new kitchen will have seating for 8, at a giant island and a separate peninsula. Second, I do need more cabinet space, so we made the kitchen big enough to accommodate it. Third, I want ease of cleanup--thus the new kitchen will have all stainless counters with an integrated sink, plus a polished concrete floor and all flat cabinet door fronts. The last issue is also non-culinary, which is that I want to look out at my nice yard and the bird feeders while I'm cooking--so the whole back wall is all windows above the counter, no upper cabinets to block the view.

                      What I won't have, and don't need, is super-fancy appliances. I inherited a four-burner Viking from the previous owners that I'm keeping, but I have no desire to move up to a six-burner, or even have a double oven. DIshwasher is a KitchenAid (and I almost never use the dishwasher anyway), fridge is some no-brand stainless model, hood was purchased on Overstock.com. And most of the pots I cook with are still the ones I bought at an auction in Moravia, NY when I was a college student 22 years ago. All of that still works for me. To me, it's all about the space and the function, not the brand names.

                      I cannot wait to get into the new place.

                      1. I've had mostly tiny kitchens and don't really think I need anything that big. Ideally I'd like a small pantry for storage and an induction stove and I'd be really happy. I don't really care that much about whether the other appliances or stainless or that I have some fancy countertop.

                        I do prefer a kitchen with some separation from the main living area- be it open to a dining area or with a pass-thru only if it's more of a great room setup. I've lived in a few apartments where there was no hiding the kitchen and I just hated that. I'm not pristine at all times, so if someone is stopping by for a few minutes to pick something up, I don't like to be embarrassed because the kitchen is a little cluttered.

                        1. A small kitchen won't stop me from cooking, I don't think anything will as I've cooked out of a room!
                          I like a medium kitchen though, something that I can move around in, dishwasher is a must just because it makes life so much easier and lots of cutting boards and prep space. Good natural lighting believe it or not is the most important thing for me as I love to take pics while cooking.
                          I do kind of cringe when I see a beautiful kitchen with all facilities and the people aren't using it to it's advantage or claim that they "don't cook"

                          1. My sis-in-law is an interior designer and my bro-in-law works for a big construction company. They just built their custom home and it has a fabulous kitchen, with just about every high-end appliance and accoutrement, an island that's a tad smaller than my whole kitchen, and I have a bad case of kitchen envy, it's beautiful and very well laid-out. My big beef, however, is the ultra-stylish cabinet-depth refrigerators THAT BARELY HOLD ANYTHING! If it was my kitchen I'd get rid of the dumb things and knock the wall back so I could have some proper refrigerators there, never mind if they didn't have the same facade as the rest of the cabinetry. Those refrigerators would drive me batshit in no time, but otherwise they just about have the perfect kitchen.

                            The absolute perfect science-fiction kitchen would be one you could close off and run like a dishwasher to clean it every once in a while. Bathrooms would be like that too, in my perfect sci-fi world.

                            1. We have a small kitchen and it is perfect when I'm cooking and my wife is not in it. Then again for her, when she's cooking,it is perfect when I'm not in it.

                              1. I have a large kitchen in my apartment. The room is huge but I still only have a TOTAL of 4 running feet of counter, two on each side of the sink with a cabinet above and below each section. Hard to work with that. Nothing by the stove, so it is not the size that matters. If I owned this I would add more counter. If I were building, I would choose a smaller kitchen with a separate butler's pantry/canning room.

                                1. You may rationalize your kitchen, but you want more. Frankly, I think a big, beautiful, well-appointed kitchen with lots of space is fantastic...so long as there's a housekeeper to clean it all.