Posts Tagged ‘kitchen design’

kitchen with skirt sinkI love to wear skirts and dresses (although they do get in the way, and are not helpful at all when I really need to get housework and gardening done. I couldn’t tell you how many times I have stood helpless as the vacuum cleaner hungrily wrapped my skirt around its manic spinning brush, never mind explaining how much damage a weed wacker can do to fabric before you can hit the off button). But, as impractical as my wardrobe can be, I enjoy it, and I wear it anyway, but dressing my kitchen in skirts is another matter.

Eclectic, bespoke kitchens are in style, and I am so glad that we finally want them to look like a room in our house, instead of an institutionalized afterthought for preparing food and opening take out containers. We want them to be homey and decorated, especially decorated; rustic, without being too countrified, and sophisticated without being cold and unwelcoming. And, we want the windows open and wide, preferably overlooking a scenic meadow, and we all want poured concrete and butcher block.

And, I couldn’t be happier, because I think every room should be dreamy, and that kitchens deserve as much love, beauty and comfort as the rest of the house, but somehow, to me, having a fabric skirt in a kitchen just seems like going to the shops and buying a small headache; it’s something else to clean, and a thousand more surfaces to attract all those random splatters and spills.

I honestly don’t know how people stay clean in the kitchen, and if I had a zoom on my television, I would probably use it to see if that white blouse that she is cooking in is as spotless as it seems to be. Because I am such a messy cook. I cook and bake all the time, but I can’t even wash a dish without sharing it with my fabric clad tummy, so I always wear an apron. And even my apron gets dirtier than I think it should. I am constantly wiping up, and my kitchen still isn’t clean, so I can’t imagine turning around and seeing fabric covered in goo that needs to be washed every time I get far too exuberant with the chicken and the flour.

So, I think, that as beautiful as some of these fabric laden kitchens are, maybe they aren’t quite as practical as they want us to believe. Maybe the woman who lives there uses her oven for storage, or she has people to clean for her, or maybe, just maybe she does gaze out at the meadow in her clean, white blouse, and is a far neater cook than I will ever be….

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph from House Beautiful

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kitchen - open shelving1When I moved into my house, I knew immediately that I wanted open shelves on either side of the kitchen sink. Instead, I had lovely (new) oak cabinets.

Not wanting to be ungrateful, I accepted the cabinets for years, because that seemed like the right thing to do; they were good quality, and they showed absolutely no sign of growing old. But, I never stopped wanting shelves; my kitchen is very small, so I knew that shelves would make it look larger, and I wanted to add some character to the well-used, but slightly neglected space.
At the mere mention of open shelves, the first word I get from anyone is a very adamant no. It is the sudden fear of having to be neat and tidy. It’s true; it does mean that our dishes have to be stacked, and cups need to be sitting on something, but don’t we do that anyway? Most people don’t shove their plates into a cupboard, slam the door, and hope that nothing falls out when they open it again. I really don’t think we are all as messy as we think.

The next protest comes from the worry that our dishes might not be pretty enough, or as luxurious as the ones we see in the magazines. I don’t agree with this at all, because even if we live on paper plates and little packets of stolen ketchup, they can still be stacked neatly or put in a decorative container.

Lastly, the other open shelf worry is that things will get dusty, which leads to more cleaning. The funny thing is, when we have things out, we tend to use them more, which means they have to be cleaned. And, if we don’t use them, they will probably get dusty and dirty anyway, so either way they will have to be cleaned at some point.

I am embarrassed to say that this assorted jumble of thoughts sat in my own head for nearly ten years, until one afternoon when I really hated my kitchen, and decided it was time to stop worrying about the oak cabinets. Last I checked, they didn’t worry at all about me, and I knew I had been taking good care of them for a very long time.
Ripping them out was my first instinct, but as that was more than I was willing to tackle, I settled for taking the doors off and pretending to myself that I had just discovered shelves. Within minutes the doors were off, and it turns out that I was never that messy after all. An hour later I was organized, and my kitchen looked twice the size, and so much more interesting than it had before I had eaten my lunch (and, the dishes that I have aren’t fancy or remotely coordinated).

The next day I spackled the holes, and decided to paint the cabinet frames cream. Why this all took so long is beyond me, but my (new) pretend shelves were definitely worth the wait.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com

Sadly, the beautiful photograph at the top is not of my kitchen – it is from www.bhg.com via Pinterest.

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Number 59 was my favorite kitchen ever. In the back of a quirky Victorian home in London, it fed every part of my creative being (I just didn’t know it at the time). Because it went down a step or two, and had a separate door, it always felt like I was going into another world. In reality, years ago, it was probably the Maid’s quarters; a place where they chatted and relaxed after cooking a meal, politely separated from their employers, whispering about the events of the day.


Whenever I opened the door, I didn’t go in there to cook, I just wanted to be there; a fireplace, a table, and some squishy armchairs invited me in, and the warm comfort asked me to stay. I can feel the kitchen as I write this, and remember the shape of the chair that I always sat in (if Sally the dog didn’t get to it first. I think it was actually hers, she just allowed me to borrow it when she went outside). Through the sitting area was the tiny kitchen, and a door leading out to the back garden. Sunny days led to picking flowers and clothes drying on the line, and rainy ones a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

I baked my first ever Victoria Sponge cake in that kitchen, and had my first cup of Earl Gray Tea (which I still don’t like); I felt very grown up when I drank it, knowing it was quite posh, while trying to ignore the perfumed Bergamot that made me almost want to be sick. Even so, making loose tea in a teapot was special, a treat that I never refused (or told anyone that I didn’t really like it).

My Auntie cooked and baked all the time, and the kitchen (to me) was the best room in the house. We would wander in after work, poke around the cupboard, grab a chocolate biscuit, collapse in a chair, and tell her about our day. It was warm, and we would always ask what was for dinner, and when would it be ready. She would keep doing whatever she was doing, and she would listen.
Like many mother’s, she had learned to let us talk, figuring out our own answers by the time we reached the end of the story. Sometimes, there were no words, just a cup of tea, or a nod of the head. It was a safe place to go; a problem solving kitchen.

On Saturday mornings my Uncle loved to cook. After walking the dog, he would make us the most delicious hot sandwiches, and we would just sit and eat, in yummy silence. (Maybe some people would have a nap afterwards, while the rest of us complained about doing the washing up).
It was a quiet part of the week. Our bellies were full, Monday seemed far away, and I think I was quite lazy. I didn’t do my own laundry, but I would happily chat to my Auntie as she folded and ironed for hours on end. I want to believe that she never minded, that she secretly loved the repetition of the iron, and the nice, clean pile of teenage clothes.

Sometimes, it was really hectic, and we would be told to get out of the tiny kitchen; but we never went too far, and we could always curl up with Sally, and wait for things to quiet down.

It wasn’t a fancy kitchen. I couldn’t tell you if the stove was gas or electric, or what the counter was made of, but I know that it was a true gathering room; a magical place that made you feel warm and welcome, where the people in it were far more important than the things….


Wendy E. Wrzos    http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

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Nah… kitchen drawers are it. If you’re considering re-doing your kitchen anytime soon, reconsider the cabinet. Drawers are not just for silverware, they’re for spices, towels and linens, and lots and lots of dishes. I only have one large bank of drawers in my kitchen, and I can still remember the installer wondering why I chose these because he thought I was wasting space. Au contraire… you actually gain space and organization, not to mention the ease of transferring clean dishes from the dishwasher to drawers instead of hard-to-reach cabinets. And you can actually see what you’re looking for. Viva la drawer!


Kim Merritt – http://beautifullivingstyle.blogspot.com/

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My kitchen is tiny; I am always dreaming of ways to make it bigger (?) and better. I have done almost everything that a normal person could do to make it what I want it to be, without taking down walls and ripping up floors. I know how I would love it to look, but I am happy to be creative until (if) that time comes.

A kitchen is such a big budget item that many of us wait until we are moving, or get an unexpected windfall, before making changes. In the meantime it sits, getting older and more disappointing as we wait for that elusive, happy day.

I don’t like that idea. While we are waiting to win the lottery our kitchen is still part of our every day life; it has to be used constantly, so why not try to make it better until our package of perfection arrives? All of these things I have done myself, and I know they do make a big difference with very little effort .

  • Of course, I have to mention knobs and draw pulls first. Changing the shape, texture or color will always make your room look refreshed.
  • Add a decorative mirror to an empty wall (easy to clean, and brings in light and energy).
  • Paint some of the cabinets. If you have a set of cabinets away from the others, consider painting them a different color and giving them unusual hardware. They will look like a separate piece of furniture.
  • Talking of separate furniture, what about removing an upper and lower cabinet altogether, and replacing it with a buffet, dresser or desk that is even more useful (and decorative)? If you don’t like your kitchen anyway, be bold and give it a try!
  • Take down some upper cabinets (not as hard as you think) and install shelves. Or, remove the doors and “pretend” it is open shelving. Your kitchen will look bigger with open shelves.
  • Remove the doors and the central piece of wood off a pair of cabinets to create a nook for cookbooks. I did this, and I know they were oak cabinets, but truly, I love having the books showing and it makes the kitchen far more interesting. (Removing the center piece – with a hacksaw –  did not compromise the strength of the cabinet at all).
  • Bring in things that are “un-kitcheny”.  Art, curtains, books, lamps and furniture will give your kitchen a personality; it will feel more like a room than just a place that you cook dinner.
  • Grout vintage tiles onto your old countertops to make a more interesting surface that is heat-resistant and looks pretty. If you are not keen on it being permanent idea, then buy a really large marble tile, put rubber feet on it, and place that on the counter. This is perfect for large, hot dishes and for baking on.
  • Remove dated appliques and fancy, wooden doo-dads. Sand and stain (or paint) over any imperfections or, cover it with a picture. 

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/  Thanks to House Beautiful for the photograph.

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Like everyone else, I am often distracted by the new and the shiny! Trends are a part of our life. We get bored, and before we know it someone reinvents an old classic; we are always happy to embrace the newness, and pretend that it really is different than before (for example, why am I wearing Jeans combined with Leggings that are now, frighteningly, called Jeggings?).

The latest trends in home design are similar to the ones in fashion. If we aren’t careful, we become victims of an overused, and short-lived, media darling.

With home accessories costing more than fashion accessories, it is foolish to go straight to the obvious choice. To me, Granite is the expensive “Jeggings” of home design. Granite has been the star of the show for the last few years. Sometimes, I hate to say it out loud, but people have bought it for the prestige. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the appeal, but let’s not be so blinded by the press that we overlook all of the other available options.

Natural Stone has been around since the beginning of time, originally in very posh houses, that often had gilded picture frames and tassels on their curtains. Now that it has become more mainstream, it is the number one choice for homeowners. I understand why, but please don’t limit your ideas. Counter tops are a big fashion element of your kitchen, plus, they need to work hard for you every day, efficiently. They are an investment.

Some things to consider:
What type of surface do you need? Are you like me, do you need somewhere that you can put a heavy pan down without thinking about it, or are you more careful when you cook? Do you want your kitchen to look bigger, smaller, old fashioned, modern? Do you want a dark or light color? A busy pattern, a glossy surface? How much maintenance are you willing to put into it? Would it bother you if the color/surface changed with age? What is your budget?

Next, you need to see and feel what you are considering. Go to some of the larger hardware stores or kitchen showrooms. Ask questions. Get samples if you can. Visit a granite showroom and ask what they charge for direct installation. Look at their less popular, more unusual stones. Alternatively, think about combining a less expensive counter with a unique edging. Man-made counters are far more durable and appealing to the eye than they used to be. My mom has a laminate counter top that is edged in a beautiful, native wood. I honestly didn’t know it was laminate until she told me, because of the clever design combination. If you want something unusual, that is not typically used in a kitchen, check out the reviews online. Don’t just believe what you imagine to be true in your head.

Thoughts: Poured concrete, Soapstone, Marble, Granite, Wood, Silestone (a Quartz composite) Stainless Steel, Corian, Laminate, Formica, WilsonArt stone and laminate, Glass, Tile and Slate.

It’s worth the time and effort that you take into making this decision. A counter top should be a timeless and beautiful addition to your home; something that you enjoy working with every single day. Don’t get caught up in a trend, or, like Jeggings (cringe) you’ll lose your originality and be bored with it in a few weeks.

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