Harvest Kitchen Harvest Kitchen

Nothing says autumn quite like a big, warm kitchen that's ready to receive company, whether it's dinner guests looking forward to your special pumpkin soup or the entire 6th grade soccer team hungry for after-practice snacks. In many modern homes, the kitchen is the social center of the house, but this is never more true than it is in autumn, when the cooler air and earlier dusk each day chase us indoors.

Let's take a look at this kitchen, through the lens of the Sheffield Guidelines to Interior Design: function, mood, and harmony. First, the function the kitchen in general has changed over history; it wasn't always the most popular room in the house. In Colonial America, the kitchen in middle- and upper-class homes was often in the basement, with a door that opened to the backyard, and was used only by cooks and maids. Over time, the kitchen became the place where the lady of the house could let down her formality, and from there, it evolved to what it is today: the gathering place for the family and friends.

This kitchen was built with precisely this function of providing a gathering place in mind. First, it is large; we don't need to see the actual dimensions to know that there's plenty of room here. The counter with the two stools provides a perfect perch for guests or family members to sit while talking with the cook. You can imagine the parents preparing dinner while quizzing the kids about their school days, or the host impressing his guests with a crepe-making performance.

And the room is clearly designed with cooking in mind as well. This is what's known in real estate ads as a "cook's kitchen," because it's got everything a devout cook could want. Notice how the refrigerator, stove, and sink form the traditional triangle, which makes for the most efficient meal preparation. Even better, the stove is on an island, allowing the cook to approach the pots and pans simmering on the stovetop from three directions. Because the oven is conveniently located out of sight on the other side of the island, the cook is able to pull a heavy pan from the oven and slide it directly onto the countertop opposite, or onto the butcher block countertop to the side of the stovetop on the island.

Having the stove oriented in this way is also good in terms of the principals of Feng Shui, the ancient Asian practice of placement and design, which says that the cook should not have to work facing away from the room. You can learn more about Feng Shui design for your kitchen by reading our article in Sheffield's Feng Shui WebCenter.

This kitchen is one of the most practical we've seen here at Sheffield in a long time. There is plenty of cabinet space, and there are plenty of drawers. Note the corner cabinet in the far right under the counter; if you were to open this door, you'd find three tiers of a lazy Susan inside, for easier access to cookware. Note, too, the three bowls of the sink: one for washing, one for rinsing, and one for washing vegetables.

In terms of the mood of this kitchen, it gets high marks for indulging in a country-casual mood, without sacrificing style. The brick flooring in the kitchen proper, the Shaker-style cabinets, the basket with apples in the foreground, and even the old-fashioned salt and pepper shakers speak to this style.

Finally, everything in this kitchen harmonizes. One reason the room seems sleek and organized is that the same material is used for the cabinet fronts, and the back of the cabinets under the sink; the same facing is even used for the refrigerator panels. The countertop is in a matching color, which is echoed in the crown molding. The heavy wood of the butcher block countertop of the island is repeated in the stools at the counter, and both of these tones are repeated in the fresh mums on the counter.

All in all, this kitchen goes a long way toward making us look forward to the coming of colder weather, shorter days, and delicious wintry meals.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Design

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