It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

~ E E Cummings ~

What Makes a Happy Kitchen?

June 12th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 14 secs

It's not just the food, it's the people that make a happy kitchen.

Walk in and you immediately feel it. It’s not the appliances, cupboards, and bench tops, but something else. A happy kitchen can never be engineered or built, for it relies on the hosts themselves to give it warmth.

Like me, no doubt you have been in many people’s place and been led through their kitchen. Some of these gleam and sparkle with shine. While, others definitely put the “mess” back into the term mess hall. Yet neither is the criterion for determining a truly happy kitchen.

What about those times when you’ve been in someone’s kitchen and felt warmly welcomed? Where you felt you could relax and be comfortable? These kinds of kitchens reflect something special; a hospitality that flows all over you. All you need do is soak it in and, instantly, you start feeling at ease. At the heart of every good home is a happy kitchen.

I lament the demise of kitchens in modern developments. Selfish developers put notional kitchens in apartment cupboards. You cannot walk into them. Nor can you feel anything for them because a happy kitchen is a place to be in, not a bench with appliances hidden in a cupboard.

For a happy kitchen to put you at ease it needs the following ingredients:

  • Somewhere to stand, work, and feel at ease
  • Room to stow away your food
  • A place to sit and stretch at, say, a table or maybe a bench
  • The easy means to share a cup of tea or coffee together
  • A cozy spot to mutually sit and eat
  • The real feeling that this is where sustaining meals are prepared with care.

Clearly, you don’t need to be rich to have a happy kitchen. Even the humblest of homes can have one. But it does take a certain richness of spirit; a coziness that comes from genuine devotion and keeping a family together. Perfection has nothing to do with a happy kitchen either. In fact, the more fastidious, immaculate and seamless, the less inviting and simple a kitchen feels. Unpretentious honesty is always at its heart.

Does this mean a happy kitchen ignores all hygiene? Hardly. Just that it doesn’t matter near as much as the kindness shown when you’re there together. Inviting home kitchens reveal a certain intimacy that declares, “We’re not Teflon. We’re real people, and you’re welcome to see us as we are because we trust you.”

This is what makes a happy kitchen such a delicious experience. Here, in the hearth of the home, you should feel received and part of the family without all the show. Everyone you care for belongs here. Those welcomed should feel the kindness of your table because it conveys everything gracious about you. Will matching appliances do that, or a granite bench top, and tray ceiling? No. These things are nice but non-essential. For a kitchen to be a happy place, it requires:

  • All the practicality of wisely shopping for groceries
  • The care and discipline to keep and cook them, and
  • All the levelheaded love you can muster.

Because, for a hearth of warmth and happiness to exist, there will never be any substitute for a goodhearted host.


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