Sunday, 8 January 2012

My favourite kitchens

I'm always in the kitchen at parties. I'm always in the kitchen at home too and not just because I'm a cook. The heart of a home, the kitchen is the warmest room of the house, to the point that builders often don't install a radiator. The internal gravity of a house pulls you towards the kitchen: where you hang out with your mother after a day at school, where you unwind and offload after work. It's a refuge identified with nurturing and sustenance where we learn to cook not by lessons but by lurking next to the stove, absorbing it all despite ourselves. It's also the quiet space at the party, where you might actually manage a conversation. Many of my most productive 'business meetings' are held cradling cups of tea on the stools next to my Aga, just as people are drawn to a campfire. Professional kitchens are grey sterile places; a landscape of stainless steel, wipe down, hose down surfaces. Some domestic kitchens ape this. 
Whenever I visit a stately home or a castle, I give a passing glance to the four poster beds, the wall tapestries, the panelling, the gilded furniture: I'm most interested in 'downstairs', marvelling at sculleries, the lack of fridges, of range cookers that require fuel, at stacks of extravagant serving dishes. TV sitcoms primarily trolley between the living room and the kitchen with perhaps an end of show scene in the parent's bedroom. One of the charms of The Good Life was the amount of time Tom and Barbra spent in their suburban farmhouse kitchen, surrounded by yellow 70s pine. This is part of the appeal of American shows like Everybody loves Raymond and Roseanne. What's your favourite kitchen? Do you like sleek modernity, the mess hidden behind cupboards? Or do you prefer a country style kitchen? Here are some of my favourites which influenced the style of my kitchen:

Minnie Mouse's house in Florida:
I love her fridge full of cheese. I love the rounded 1950s styling. I love the surrendered wife note.
This isn't a toy it's lifesize

  1. Call Mickey
  2. Mousersize
  3. Make a box lunch for Mickey
  4. Have a nutritious low fat breakfast
  5. Call Mickey
  6. Tend to the garden
  7. Bake a cake for Mickey
  8. Go to recycling center
  9. Call Mickey
Minnie is environmentally aware and health conscious but a rather co-dependent wife! 

Ma Larkin of The Darling Buds of May had a classic 1950s post war kitchen. Perfick!

Monet: not a bad artist and bloody good kitchen designer.

1950s GE kitchen in Mamie pink:

Downton Abbey kitchen:
The series wasn't actually filmed at Highclere Castle (must go visit) where the programme is set as the kitchen is too 20th century. It was rebuilt at Ealing Studios.

Sophie Dahl's kitchen:
This caused controversy as it turned out it wasn't actually her kitchen but belonged to a photographer, Paul Massey. People at Harper Collins told me her real kitchen was very similar in style. Go on Soph, show us!

Elvis' kitchen: typically dark and 1970s. Fitted kitchens with formica tops. Mock tudor cabinets. The 20s Tiffany lamps which were again fashionable in the 70s. The dark patterned fitted carpet (carpet? in a kitchen?) like a Camden Town pub. I remember when my parents got fitted carpet. It was a big deal. We couldn't believe that it went right to the sides, covered all the floor and was stapled down permanently. Horrible.

and of course my kitchen!


  1. I really like the batchelor pad kitchen in The Ipcress File - row upon row of beautiful copper pans, and and one of Len Deighton's Observer food strips cut out and stuck on a post.

  2. Great suggestion. I can't find any photos of it however.

  3. I love this post! I love looking at other people's kitchens. Can't wait to see yours soon. Ax

  4. Love your pot-stand. I imagine it to be like a giant "pick-up-sticks" game: remove one from the wrong place and it all topples over!

  5. It's mostly ok. Architects love it. All that gear in so little space they exclaim.

  6. I like David & Sam Cam's kitchen actually. All the pans on open shelves etc. Don't like anything else about them...

  7. Your kitchen is amazing - I LOVE it. Mine is tragically awaiting to unleash its potential - this year, after The Wedding of Doom, we shall be at last getting round to renovating it and I think I come up with a different design every day. So this entry was just further fuel to the fire!!! I keep thinking I should give in and have one of those people from the soul-destroying adverts come in and design one "for" me. But that thought is just too hideous to bear.

  8. Love your kitchen, and great post. I am obsessed with kitchens and cooking in other peoples, as mine is teeny weeny, but it's amazing how you can adapt.

  9. Love the little glimpse of outside through your open door. Overheard at our local Arts Trail which displays art in Saltaire village homes

    Him "Have you seen anything you like?"
    Her "Yes, the kitchen"

  10. Helen:Yes quite like Sam and Cam's open shelf approach. They've got taste and the money to display it!
    Little Dinner Lady: sometimes a small kitchen is better!

    Chris: hehe. That's the sort of thing Brian Sewell gets really snotty about, people choosing art to go with the colour of their sofa!.

  11. Oh, this is a wonderful post. I also very much like the Monet kitchen, I've been thereto several times, the entire Monet house and garden are great. And of course, your kitchen is beautiful and cosy, too! But I also very much liked your living room and garden when we were there for the Pasta dinner last year.

  12. I have to say, I like your kitchen the most! I have just fallen in love with it!

  13. I have to say, I love your kitchen. Afte seeing that picture I have just fallen in love.

  14. oh my gosh, Monet's kitchen is amazing! love the colours and patterns!


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