Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"No Matter where i serve my guests ...

... it seems they like my kitchen best."

A little plaque that's been on the family kitchen wall since i was a kid and it's my topic for today.
The kitchen --- Kitchen 'Room' vs Open Plan.

I have an open plan kitchen, and i'm afraid to say that i despise it. 100% do not love it at all. Firstly, i get so tired of keeping it perfectly dish/smudge free and clean and secondly, it's rediculously hard to get a good design flow on with it in the picture ... which it is, from every angle!

I want a kitchen which is more old school style. I connect many a fond memory to it as a child growing up. I hate seeing my dishwasher from the lounge room and fridge from the dining. appliances are terrible unattractive.

A history ...
Way back like early 1800's the kitchen was still centred around the fire place in many cases and was the room of the house that the family would congregate. Those more 'flush' decided that the preparation and serving of meals was beneath them so kitchens were banished out of sight. Further into the 18th century houses with separate dining rooms became more common with kitchens designed  at the rear of the home (or basement) with adjoining back steps to ensure that the servants were unseen.  I'm guessing that over time, this design of having the kitchen at the rear of the house just carried on in properties in the late 19th century and early 20th, your pre-war's - queenslanders, colonials, manors, plantation homes etc etc.
This is a kitchen out of an 18th century barn - since refurbed slightly - you can imagine it before the more modern island bench.
Kitchens became smaller late 19th century and after WW1 servants began to peter out and seeing there were no longer maids to carry the food from room to room, people chose to eat in the kitchen again, hence the commencement of the 'kitchen table'. 

Then, jumping forward into the mid 20th century and the age of consumerism, the 'housewife' emerged. Many woman who had worked throughout the war were enticed back into the home (through very clever marketing campaigns) and the kitchen became her domain more than ever before. Brand new appliances to rival that of any other housewife's kitchen were a necessity and a larger kitchen was conceived. Convenience, efficiency and perfection in the home was the undertone of the era with constant upgrades of items created to better that of the one before.  More open plan kitchens were designed - as in, still viewed as a separate room but larger and outfitted with a kitchen table or booth - with special occasion dining still reserved for the formal dining room.
Our family home was early 1900's so the kitchen is at the rear, smaller style but we always dined in there as a family together and still do when i visit mid week. We'd talk together, listen to our parent's stories of the day and were 'guided' on how to use a knife and fork and chew "...with our mouths closed!!!". Each night one of us would be on dish duty. Regardless of the fact there was a dishwasher, this was simply a part of the process. Saturday nights were roast night, in the formal dining with AM radio in the background and 'sweets'. generally whatever the middle child wanted being that he's the favourite ...

Dinner parties that were held would see everyone congregate in the kitchen for a chat and then adjourn to other areas of the house. There was always a constant hum of conversation in our kitchen.

It was also a workspace and a getaway for woman during an era when men were so unashamedly chauvenistic. The venting room. Now it's their getaway from us ... mwoooaahahaha. That's not true. The shed is.
I found this on the internet from 'Mens Night In the kitchen' 1951.
Now in the modern age of more convenience and unecessary gadgets, it's still the centre point of the home ... for me, it's just not the same with open plan. Stools at an island bench are uncomfortable. I'm a lounger. Open plan, as we know it, is appealling for the intention of creating a more inclusive way of entertaining but i still love a home that offers a discovery - what's around the next bend? Our current home can't offer that. It's too long and narrow - what you see is what you get and it suits, and it is convenient but the cosiness of a room that creates the family meal of the day, whether it's 2 of you or 5 of you is something rare and very special. A certain time of the evening, families up and down our street would be huddled around the kitchen table enjoying eachothers company. So my next home (and it will be an argument) will have the kitchen designed as a separate space.

Whether we agree on this or not, here's some 'kitchen rooms' i like the look of


  1. Would you care for the salt?? he he he

  2. I'm with you. Love an eat in kitchen. Open plan is so difficult to furnish too, there's no walls!!

  3. You made your childhood kitchen sound so warm and lovely. You've given me food for thought. My husband wants to knock down a wall to make ours open plan... I'm in a state of flux now EAP!

  4. Oh I do agree....but I am knocking out a wall this Saturday.....between kitchen and formal lounge to make for that open plan...Decision has been made and since it was one of my great ideas that took several weeks to convince the husband, I must go through with it!