Part One – The Kitchen

by Geoffrey Butler, AIA

We don’t think about it much. We all live in a home that has some place where we cook our food. That place is called a Kitchen. Granted, there is a wide variance in the size, configuration and appointments. But, none the less, we all eat. Therefore, we all have to prepare some sort of a meal from time to time and we all deal with the facilities that are available to do that.

Rarely do we get the opportunity to plan those facilities for our own use. Usually, we rent or buy a home/apartment/condominium and move into it and deal with it. Architects are not much different. In all my many years of living on our own (going back to our first “home” in a mobile home in North Lawrence Kansas while in college) my wife and I had not had the opportunity to plan the space where we spend so much time – the kitchen. In thirty seven years of marriage, Buffy and I just dealt with the kitchen/dining facilities which existed.

Remembering back to our first year of marriage, the trailer had a small kitchen with a few of what seemed to be cardboard cabinets, a small refrigerator, a double sink with a leaky faucet, a cheap range and that was about it. We moved in with our bounty of wedding gifts (a virtual cornucopia of kitchen utensils, dishes and small appliances). As newly weds, we scattered that stuff everywhere and set up house – sort of. It took us three months to figure out that no one was coming to do the dishes or clean the house. Reality sucks.

Anyway, over 37 years we have learned to organize our kitchen and situate stuff in places that seemed to make sense so that when we are cooking, the stuff we need is nearby. Each new (previously occupied) home would take some time to organize our stuff and then once we learned it, we were set.

About fourteen years ago, we bought a lot at the lake and designed and built a lake “cabin.” Our first home design and built for our own needs. Like all personal building projects, this little cabin swelled up like bread dough with too much yeast. Our kids were in their teens and by the time we got that cabin built. It had five bedrooms (or dedicated sleeping areas). It had a fair-sized kitchen and a living/dining area which was perfect for two to four people, but was a bit tight for the 16-20 high school and college kids that would swoop down on the place every weekend. I have to tell you right now that the food bills every weekend feeding high school kids after they spent a day on the water were pretty steep. It also taught me a lesson in kitchen planning. If you are going to cook for a crowd, you better be organized and have adequate facilities.

In the next blog, we’ll talk about the various elements of the Kitchen and how they work.