Like many people, the kitchen has always been the heart of my family’s home. It has always been a warm and bustling room where everyone ends up congregating, but one that was impossible to move around easily; too many people and too many things in what was essentially a corridor of parallel worktops. My parents love to host, but we never had enough space to easily lay everything out for dinner parties. With five family members in the house it was a struggle to move around the cramped space, as everyone tried to stand around in the kitchen and chat. It didn’t matter that there clearly wasn’t room for us, there was never a way to keep people out of the kitchen. I have fond memories of the ritual of the Sunday roast, which always became a balancing act of plates on toasters and tureens of vegetables teetering precariously on the edge of the cooker, as we tried to find the space to dish up. It was our patented brand of organised chaos, and one that I looked back on affectionately when I moved out.
Things have changed a bit since they decided to redo the kitchen. The new floors and skylights look brilliant, but the most tangible difference is the change in layout. The worktops are rearranged now, so instead of bumping into each other and balancing plates we have space to walk around in and surfaces to lay things out. A host of new drawers and cupboards means we finally have the ability to organise things: sauces, pastas, cookbooks, spices, the list goes on. There’s a section for everything now, and honestly that takes some getting used to! It’s surprisingly difficult to shake the habit of randomly opening drawers trying to remember where you put the tin opener. Guests can sit at the end of the room and have a glass of wine rather than perching on the edges of counters, and there’s even an area for the dog (not that anything will stop her getting under everybody’s feet).
Whenever I come back to visit my parents I enjoy the new room. It’s still the same friendly place, but now there’s room to relax in it. It’s a lot easier to tidy things away when you actually have the space to put them, the huge cupboards keep everything out of the way and keep the surfaces clear. The inevitable groups of family and friends have a place to sit too, even if they’ll probably still stand in the way whilst you’re trying to get through with a heavy roasting dish. No matter how much you try, it’s impossible to keep people away from the kitchen.