Saturday, March 29, 2008

Kitchen Ingredients

While the footprint and general design of my kitchen was a part of the original architectural plan. Oak Tree and I decided to wait until the house was framed and enclosed before we made the final detail plans for this area. As you can see, the kitchen is separated from the main living/dining room of the first floor, but we were able to keep it partially open to the rest of the house. When you're in the kitchen, you don't feel like you're separated from what's happening in the rest of the house, but when you're in the living/dining room, you don't feel like you're also living in the kitchen. Lower cabinets give me concealed storage, but open upper shelves allow light to flood through the space. Glassware, china and some service pieces are easily accessible, even on display.

The design of the partial wall separating the kitchen from the rest of the first floor was crucial to this working. Most importantly, during construction I was able to mock-up the lower part of the wall with plywood to determine the minimum height that the solid part needed to be so that when you are standing in the dining area, you don't find yourself looking through the open shelves and into the kitchen sink.

Last Saturday, I roasted a chicken in the house for the first time, which was almost like a christening of the kitchen. It was the first real test of functionality and just as important the experience of cooking here—everything was perfect. In this rest of this post and a few following posts, I'd like to share some of the ideas that enable it to work so well. While I have nothing against big, really tricked out kitchens, I like to think that what we've designed here is proof that something more simple can work just as well and maybe even feel special. I can't help remembering a conversation that I had with one of the architects that I met with when I was just starting to think about building a house. He had a house not that far from me and couldn't understand why I wanted to build a small-ish house, especially since it would mean a small kitchen. In his mind the kitchen needed to be big enough to accommodate a large gathering of friends when cooking. Well, if he happens to come across this blog and post, I think I've come up with a design that doesn't involve a kitchen the size of a small house with lots of unused counter space, and something that functions equally well whether I'm cooking alone or entertaining friends.

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