The farmhouse I lived in for more than twenty years had all white cabinetry and walls. I loved its light, bright, fresh feeling. Which was good, since I spent many hours in that kitchen cooking for a family of seven.
White kitchens have made a comeback in recent years largely because they are timeless and work with traditional, cottage, or contemporary styling. House and Garden recently did a feature on white kitchens, seen here, as did Southern Living here.
But I no longer have a white kitchen. In keeping with the Asian accents in my St. Louis condo, my kitchen now has one red wall and matching soffit, honey-oak cabinetry, black pulls, black sink, black table and appliances. The space works for me and feels cozy, though the size sometimes limits my efforts at food photography.
After my Rolla farmhouse burned in 2001, I rebuilt in a more open-style, with the kitchen centered around an island large enough for family and guests to join in chopping, stirring and clean up. The yellow cabinets have an antique glaze rubbed into the molding for a rustic, aged effect. The addition of barn timbers and old trim boards gives the place a vintage look that I refer to as Ozark Renaissance.
Regardless of its size or décor, a kitchen works when we cook the foods we love for those we love. My mother produced some of the tastiest meals I’ve ever had in the small, narrow kitchen of our row house. Hmm. . . come to think of it, the kitchen was all white, as most were in the 40s. But above all, a kitchen should be a place that makes you want to take up a skillet and cookbook and dive into making an adventuresome, new dish. Or just sit pleasantly with a newspaper over a cup of coffee. It should feel good to be there alone or with family and friends.
I’m always looking for ways to make it fun to be in the kitchen. Knowing this, my daughter recently gave me a set of pastel-colored knives she brought back from Bogotá. I love them! They’re grape, and watermelon, and lime, and sky blue and citrus, and stand in a clear holder like a piece of kitchen art. Cutting with a pastel knife makes me laugh and anything that encourages happy vegetable chopping earns space on my counter top.
So here’s a hearty thumbs up to white kitchens and bright kitchens of every hue, and to pastel knives and to whatever encourages us to create lively, home-cooked meals.