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Kitchen Rorschach test

I was reading another thread and I got the inspiration for this. It appears that many of us make judgments about a person cooking skills/ability based on how that person's kitchen is designed and equipped. I’m posting pictures of two very different kitchens that I have been in. I wanted to ask what impressions each of them give you. After there’s enough feedback if any, I will reveal what I know about the owners.

Kitchen Number 1 -


Kitchen Number 2

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  1. I personally like kitchen A over kitchen B, but I am a traditionalist that is not into modernist architecture. Although I can not see the oven(s) in kitchen B, it appears to be setup just as "gourmet" as kitchen A it is just a different style. I would assume they both are very competent and knowledgeable cooks, although I may assume that the owner of kitchen A is more of a classical cook and the owner of kitchen B is more of a nouveau cook.

    1. Hmmm,

      Both kitchens have features that could indicate serious cooks, and ones that might indicate show kitchen.

      Kitchen 1 looks like a kitchen in an older house - the exposed brick, dark wood, the cheaper cupboards, the lack of counter space. The double stove arrangement says heavy duty cooking. It's a bit hard to tell at this resolution, but the blackened bottoms of the pans and the cluttered look of the hanging arrangement might indicate that it is a result of lack of space, rather than artistic arrangement. The rug looks like one from Ikea, which would indicate a lower budget arrangement. There's a full knife block, and bins of utensils on the cupboard. From a cooking perspective, it looks a bit cramped, and there doesn't appear to be much cupboard or counter space.

      Kitchen 2 is much newer and more modern looking - big, clean, bright shiny. There's the huge refrigerator setup, a very fancy looking range, and tons of cupboard space. From a cooking perspective, there's too much floor space, and the sink is much to far away from the stove. The kitchen looks very sterile - the only things visible are cocktail shakers, two coffee cups and a bowl of fruit.

      Kitchen 1, I'd guess that the kitchen was owned or constructed by someone who likes to cook and frequently cooks for a lot of people, but in an older, small house, maybe without the budget for renovation.

      Kitchen 2 is obviously very expensive, and was likely built by someone fairly wealthy. It might be owned by someone who likes to cook and is fanatically tidy (or has someone to clean up after them), or it may be more of a show kitchen.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

        That was my thought: 1 belongs to a serious cook, 2 is a show kitchen, probably used more by caterers than the owner.

      2. Kitchen 1 looks to be older, in a smaller house.

        Kitchen 2 looks to be very new, and (IMO) is very cold an industrial.

        Because I've known cooks who have turned out spectactular fare from a hobbled-together cupboard of a kitchen, and other cooks who couldn't boil water on their top-of-the-range Viking, I pretty much save judgment about ability until I've tasted their cooking.

        4 Replies
        1. re: sunshine842

          I also save judgment on anyone who purchases 'rugs from Ikea', assuming they're on a tight budget and can't afford more.
          I've known multi-millionaires who, unless I knew their background, wouldn't know they had a dime. Just because one kitchen looks more expensive than the other doesn't necessarily mean they don't have money to burn...or the look of the kitchen necessarily means one can cook better than the other.

          1. re: latindancer

            whereas some people buy rugs at Ikea because...they like the rugs at Ikea.

            1. re: sunshine842

              Indeed...we just bought a rug at Ikea today in fact. We are re-doing our daughter's room and they had a rug in the perfect size and perfect shade of purple. :-)

          2. re: sunshine842

            It'll be interesting to read your feedback.

            One kitchen, and its contents, certainly does not mean anything one way or another.
            Just like the car a person drives.
            Driving a Bentley doesn't necessarily mean the person has lots of money. Conversely, a beat up old car doesn't necessarily mean the person doesn't have money.

            1. My impression: Kitchen # 1 took out a wall, spent most of their budget on the stove, and ordered the counter from Ikea. I recognize the drawer pulls from an almost identical remodel I did in an old house one time. Kitchen # 1 people probably enjoy cooking more. I wish I had kitchen # 2.

              1. Love the amount of counters in Kitchen #2, but it seems "cold" with the stainless and white, spare walls and modern look, which I've never been a fan of. It has *too* much space to move around - going from the stove to sink looks like it would require four or five steps. Moving a large filled pasta pot from stove to sink to drain the pasta would be a PITA. It looks like a show kitchen vs. one that is used.

                Kitchen #1 is definitely a workable kitchen, especially with that stove and double oven. Like the brick wall, and warmer wood cabinets.

                1. Kitchen #1 This is the kitchen of someone who has a beautiful old farm house that dates way back. They are fabulous hosts so when they retired they decided to make it into a bed and breakfast. The rug is a cheap one because they go through them a lot and she doesnt like the look of slipmat it covers.

                  Kichen #2 They are Dinks( dual income no kids) they love to entertain but cater more than they cook. They "Sandra lee" most of their creations by using high end pre-mades and throwing them into their own pans.

                  Both are beautiful spaces and I of course am just letting my imagination fly...

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: girloftheworld

                    I agree, so I'll put the same thoughts my way:

                    Kitchen two is somethin' Paul McCartney would buy for his next youngest wife.

                    Kitchen one is where George Harrison sat to write "Photograph" so his friend Ringo could record it.

                    1. re: MGZ

                      Kitchen #1 is where the finishing touches of BronYur were scratched on heavy ivory music paper

                      Kitchen #2 is where a skype was used to conference over how to autotune Ke$sha before she went into rehab.

                      1. re: girloftheworld

                        Damn, kid, that was a hellova backhand to return the serve. "That's the way it should be."

                          1. re: girloftheworld

                            You realize, Kid, that there are only nineteen other 'hounds who fully understood that exchange. The rest are busy bitchin' about spellin' and endin' sentences with prepositions.

                            1. re: MGZ

                              internet editing.. the last bastion for the uncreative mind to feel relveant.

                              1. re: girloftheworld

                                Thing is, I talk this way in real life. That's half the point.

                                Shit gets borin' when everybody plays by the rules and sits squarely in their boxes. Bad suburban design. Chain restaurants. Supermarket once a week. Commuting on the Interstate for a hour each way.

                                The jugular is there and easy to find, "Dear God, slice it."

                                1. re: MGZ

                                  This negativity is a little borin' as well. You are more interestin' when you express a variety of ideas.

                                  1. re: almond tree

                                    Fair enough, almond tree, this 'hounds hurtin' a bit. But, you're right. So sit back.

                                    Mrs. Z is scared of what's goin' on with this old dog. So, I've been teaching her to cook.

                                    First plate was potato pancakes. Don't know why I started with that, but you gotta start somewhere, right? She's made those latkes a coupla times now.

                                    Well, the second heirloom tomato came off the vine yesterday. A 'hound cant pass on that. I mean that's when they put the Purina in the bowl while you slobber kinda stuff.

                                    So, the beautiful woman who shares my bed makes the cakes. I slice the tomato and teach her how to poach eggs.

                                    I make the Hollandaise myself. That's 201 level stuff. She's not quite ready for that yet.

                                    Cakes go down. Tomato slices on top. Eggs. Then sauce.

                                    You have my invitation to name it.

                                    And, keep in mind, I ain't here to entertain, just to be a 'houd

                                    1. re: MGZ

                                      Latkes a la mode seems too tame ... I'll try to put a teeny corner of my brain that is not trying to meet deadlines on projects for 3 different clients to work & come up with something worthy.
                                      Hope you are ok. Been noticing a touch of what seems to be low spirits on your part lately.
                                      PS And yes, I am a Jewish Mother :)

                                      1. re: almond tree


                                        It was more of an eggs benedict riff. Like a garage band cover of "You Shook Me". Fun, but a way to learn.

                                        My spirits are low, 'cause I'm a 'hound with a bad belly.

                                        And remember men plan, god laughs.

                                        1. re: MGZ

                                          Did you manage to keep the cakes crisp?

                                          1. re: almond tree

                                            Better than and English muffin.

                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                That, my Brother, is just right. Puttin' it in the goal durin' the shootout right. Closin' in for the first kiss and she puckers, right.

                                2. re: girloftheworld

                                  If it wasn't for spell check I'd be looked at as an idiot.

                          2. re: girloftheworld

                            Too much! Love your contrasing analogies. And MGZ is correct. Not many will catch them.

                            However, considering the wee kitchen in my 1767 farmhouse, I'd be grateful for the space provided by either

                      2. The person in kitchen 1 cooks a lot. The person in kitchen 2 doesn't

                        1. kitchen #1: loves to cook. you can tell because of the utensils on the counter within easy reach. they saved and spent all the money on the neato keeno stove.this is a working kitchen but they are neat and tidy because most things are put away but there is still stuff on the counters. owner(s) of the kitchen may be dinks, but they like older homes and historic neighborhoods and are earthy foodies,who have been to france and tuscany.

                          kitchen #2: nobody cooks. it is a show kitchen in a high priced home. they are busy professionals or maybe 1 spouse stays home but they spend their time eating out or attending parties. if this ktichen is used for cooking, then someone is OCD, because there is nothing on the counters that show this is a working kitchen. maybe they are lawyers or financial people.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ritabwh

                            kitchen #2 might be a bachelor or bachelorette.

                          2. Ok I confess. They are both mine. The first is my country home that I have owned for years and was once my grandparents. It's where I like to get away and putter in the kitchen. I do lots of home baking and love cooking for the few friends I invite to share this special part of my life.

                            The second is in my primary home in the city. Due the high power nature of my job I must entertain often and both "friends" and clients expect a state of the art place. I still cook a lot and putter in the kitchen but unfortunately I rarely get to truly enjoy all those appliances!


                            3 Replies
                            1. re: foodieX2

                              I once had to entertain both friends and clients in the same night. The former kept wantin' to pack bong hits and jam. The latter kept sayin', "Is it possible to get a minute of your time off the clock?"

                              None of 'em ever mentioned the way the kitchen looked. Or, quite frankly, that they enjoyed dinner.

                            2. While kitchen 2 may look like a show kitchen, I think there is more going on there than meets the eye, and there is actually a very serious cook in that house. The reason I think this is because of the vent hood. It looks to me that the hood was installed AFTER the kitchen was built, because of the exposed vent duct, which runs out through a cabinet door. If it had been put in when the kitchen was built, they would have put a dropped ceiling in to hide the duct. Someone bought this house with this kitchen in it, and added the vent hood because they absolutely demand venting to the outside, and were willing to have the exposed duct if that's what it took. I can see by the look of the underside of the hood that it gets used, which is a sign of a serious cook. The kitchen is abnormally neat, and the photo looks staged, like perhaps it was taken because the house is going on the market.

                              I really can't tell much about what's going on with kitchen 1, because the photo is so dark, some of the details are hard to see. It certainly looks like there are some well-used pans hanging up on the rack. There are two objects on a shelf behind the stove... can't tell what they are. But someone who is using their stove everyday wouldn't store things there, because they would get grimed up from proximity to the stove.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: MelMM

                                I will just agree with your post. I too saw the "used" look to the vent which does indicated kitchen # 2 does get use. The picture does looked staged and in all actuality it looks less "functional" than kitchen #1. The kitchen #1 photo makes it hard to really determine what's going on seeing that half the kitchen isn't included in the picture.

                                1. re: MelMM

                                  I'm also starting to think that kitchen #2 is not as expensive as it looks. That countertop could well be laminate. I can't tell. And the cabinets are laminate, so could be inexpensive. Also, it may not be as large as it looks, as the picture was obviously taken with a wide-angle lens, which makes interior spaces look bigger. What it really looks like to me is that all the money in this kitchen went into the stove, ventilation, and fridge.

                                  I notice the stove in kitchen #1 is really just two household ranges side by side. I can't tell what's going on with ventilation.

                                  In both photos, we are not seeing the other half of the kitchen, so we are truly not getting the "whole picture."

                                2. I can't make a decision. Kitchen 1 looks like an everyday kitchen...stuff on the counters, the lights aren't on etc. Kitchen 2 is obviously staged with all the lights on and the photo was taken with a high quality camera. So, I can't really decide when the quality of the pictures aren't the same.

                                  When my home was for sale, the kitchen looked like it was never used (like kitchen #2 here), whereas when it wasn't for sale, it looked very used (like kitchen #1). I wasn't a worse cook when it was for sale, I just had to be a better cleaner :)

                                  1. Hmm. Not a lot of posters. Thought there would have been a little bit more. Maybe slow traffic because of the holiday? So should I post the answer now or wait a bit more?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Bkeats

                                      So, what's the dealy-o with the respective owners?

                                    2. My guess is they're the same kitchen. Kitchen #2 is AFTER the remodel.

                                      1. Kitchen 1 - The owner of this kitchen loves to cook and cooks a lot. All the pans, knives, utensils are within quick reach of the stove indicating that this person takes their cooking seriously and doesn't want to be messing around searching for things they'll inevitably need. Pans are well worn and kitchen looks well used. Function is a far greater priority than design.

                                        Kitchen 2 - Looks staged. Design is prioritized over function so my first impression was that the owner of this kitchen wanted a professional looking, aesthetically pleasing high end kitchen but, probably doesn't do much cooking. The proximity of the cooktop to sink to fridge appears to be across a vast space and impractical. They may even like to watch someone else cook. Seeing the cooktop beneath the breakfast bar made me wonder if the owner of the kitchen might have professional chefs come in to use their kitchen to prepare meals for them and their friends. (who would just watch the action and enjoy the meal). This could be a teaching kitchen.

                                        1. Can't say about cooking skills without tasting their eats, but having to climb a ladder to reach stuff in my cabinets (Kitchen 2, esp over the fridge) would annoy the heck out of me. Would assume that Kitchen 2 owner has plenty of time to clean, too, all of that glass and the hood, etc, or help with the cleaning....more free time that I do.

                                          Love the toss-in-the-wash well-used rug in Kitchen 1. Could see my dog laying on it.

                                          1. Impressions at a glance:

                                            Kitchen 1 -
                                            They like to cook. The budget for their kitchen seems to be skewed toward the stove. The knives, pots, and utensils are within easy reach. The pots look like they've seen use. Cooking skill: at least decent, due to practice.

                                            Kitchen 2-
                                            They have money. Everything looks expensive. They might like to cook. Or not. Who knows? Cooking skill: cannot be determined.

                                            1. So time to pull back the curtain to reveal the owners. FoodieX2, you were on the right track. Both homes are owned by the same family. The pictures are from their loft in the city and the weekend country house. The loft was professionally designed and fitted with custom cabinets, marble countertops, high end appliances and a commercial grade ventilation system. The exposed ventilation system was built with polished stainless steel as it was a design element to the kitchen. It’s a huge kitchen for the city. The weekend place is a 100+ year old farmhouse that was originally built without electricity or running water. Those had been added in a haphazard fashion over time. The family had the house rebuilt to add more modern amenities but wanted to keep as many of the original features of the house as possible as it was built entirely of wood. Wood floors, walls, ceiling. Walls were taken apart piece by piece and the old wood was used to rebuild new walls. So while it may look very basic, it was a labor intensive project. They also wanted a simpler kitchen than the one in the city. So its very functional and doesn’t have the viking or bosch appliances. I have no idea if the rug in the kitchen is ikea or not. Both parents work and enjoy cooking for family and friends and both kitchens get very heavy use. The picture of the city kitchen looks staged as it was. It was staged for a photo shoot for a submission for an architectural design award. By the way, lots of music in the farmhouse. There’s a piano and guitars there for playing and a big collection of LPs.

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: Bkeats

                                                This is such an interesting topic to me (prob because I have an interior design background, my favorite room being kitchens) Goes to show you really can't tell anything about the cook by looking at the kitchen. Below are 4 of my past kitchens.... none are a reflection on how I cook!

                                                1. re: juliejulez

                                                  I think I like the first and last kitchens best, julie. :-)

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    Me too :) The first one was my condo and I got to pick out everything from the builder's selection (they didn't offer white anything though!). That kitchen is what inspired me to learn how to cook though... I thought it was a shame to have a nice kitchen and not use it. The last was my last apartment before I left Chicago... it was a rental so I didn't pick anything. I will say, the first and last are obviously staged, the photos are from when both were for sale, whereas the middle ones were my own photos.

                                                    Funny enough though, the third one is where I did A LOT of cooking, mainly because I had more free time when I lived there. It had a horrible layout though (like who had the brilliant idea to make that entire bank of cabinets there in the back at bar height?? The landlord said I could put barstools and eat there, but ummm there was a dining room for that. There was only about 3 feet of actual usable counterspace. Behind that door there was a ginormous pantry, which I did love though..

                                                  2. re: juliejulez

                                                    I like the second one the best. The second one looks like it belongs to someone who grows his/her own herbs out back. The cabnits are filled with interesting china collected through the years pulled out and matched to the meal being served. This person likes to entertain but doesnt mind mind when people wander into the kitchen and lean agains the counter with a coffee cup ..untill they get in the way.. then a gentle hip butt and smile reminds..if they are not helping then their visit time is up.

                                                    1. re: girloftheworld

                                                      LOL that's funny because this was a loft apartment with absolutely no green space whatsoever. I had some potted plants outside by my back door but they got stolen :) I do love me some dishes though, I collect vintage ones!

                                                  3. re: Bkeats

                                                    Interestingly, the staging for the city kitchen is, as I said above, so sterile, that I had little to no interest in it. Even if I saw that in a magazine, I would quickly bypass the picture/article with complete lack of interest.

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      That's a good word - sterile. It looks like a kitchen that has been designed and built, but where no-one has moved in yet.

                                                  4. Kinda fun... I haven't read anything.

                                                    To me, both kitchens for me are fantasies, and unattainable in my lifetime... but I digress.

                                                    Kitchen 1 - looks like a real chef. Double stove, practical/cleanable surfaces, tons of practical pots hanging up there. I would even wonder if that person worked as a chef. My kinda place.

                                                    Kitchen 2. Probably never cook, lots of outside paid help. Maybe they pay a private chef. Sterile. Boring food.