Warm and Welcoming Kitchen Warm and Welcoming Kitchen

In many parts of the world people like to come inside with family and friends and gather around the hearth. But today the hearth, thankfully, is much more than a brick-faced fireplace with a blackened cook pot hanging in it.

In fact, over the past several years, the kitchen in most American homes has increasingly become the centerpiece of the home, at least in terms of functioning as a gathering place.

Let's analyze how this room is working in terms of the Sheffield Guidelines to Interior Design: function, mood, and harmony.

Looking first at this kitchen's function, we see that it's primarily the place for preparing meals, as is the case with any kitchen, where the first thing to look for in terms of function is how easy it is to work between the refrigerator, stove, countertop and sink. The classic approach is to look for the fridge, stove and sink to be points of a rough triangle, close enough to each other so that it's only a few steps from one to another. And then, of course, the more counter space you can have in there, the better.

This is why sometimes a large kitchen is actually less convenient than a small one. A poorly-planned kitchen that's in a big space can mean too much sprinting between fridge and stove.

This is also the reason that kitchen islands were invented. Here, we see the island put to good use in this large space, with the stovetop on the surface and cabinets for pots and pans below. The only thing we'd change is that we'd flip the island around so that the stovetop side is facing the countertop you see behind it. In other words, the cook should be facing out, toward the rest of the room, when standing at the stovetop island. This is especially true in today's modern homes, where family rooms and great rooms often adjoin the kitchen creating a large entertaining space. This way the cook can interact with guests and family members while preparing meals.

Other than that, this kitchen appears to function quite well. The oven, microwave, and fridge are close to one another, and the sink, in the rear corner of the photo, is nestled conveniently between them. And yes, there's loads of counter space.

This kitchen also functions quite well as a gathering place. The stools at the island are perfect for perching quests while they keep the cook company, and you'll note too that the dining table, in the photo's foreground, is readily accessible.

The mood of this kitchen is open and comfortable. You can easily imagine the family having dinner, with someone getting up to get the casserole for second helpings without having to break the conversation. This isn't a formal dining room separated from the work of the food preparation, but is a homey, casual place for sharing a meal.

The rustic chair and stools, the country-style ceramic pig cookie-jar on the counter, and the macramé shade over the table all contribute to this feeling of casual comfort.

Finally, this room harmonizes, even though it's actually two rooms in one. The chair at the table is in the same style as the stools at the island. The black-faced appliances fit in with the white cabinets, keeping the look simple, and the wood table and wood floor are in the same tones.

All in all, this room provides a warm welcome from the chilly winds of November, offering a comfortable place for friends and family to toast the joys of the autumn season.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design

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