Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Absolute Dream Kitchen

Dreaming of a kitchen that only serves up delicious food, nothing burns and all the dishes clean themselves?

Super organization via Transition With Style

Well so am I! But until the Jetson's are a reality, we are mere mortals in the kitchen subject to bad cooking and burned dishes.

So maybe you're looking at your kitchen and thinking you may need to refresh it a little for the spring or you are working on a total gut. (Been there, I still bow in homage to the dishwasher every time I load it!) And we need to deal with that eat-in area too.

How can we make the kitchen a more comfortable place to work? There are loads of sites and designers to help you plan it out, but is it right? Why is it some kitchens have been around a long time and still don't need any help except minor touch ups? Stay tuned my friends……

In Feng Shui, the kitchen represents the healthy heart of the home, it's related to wealth as well. It's where nourishment is made and fire was the source of fuel. Today we have many types of "fire" that is used as the cooking source, but the idea is the same. Whomever is cooking needs a calm and focused workplace without jarring interruptions that disturb their energy. Interruptions include people and pets running in and through, chaotic organization, lack of cleanliness and a improperly positioned stove. We want people to gather for nourishment and company not add stress.

Paula's Meltdown via Google
Don't worry Paula, we're going to get it all sorted for you! We are striving for a happy, active place where people are drawn in and the cook feels creative. So…..
The first thing is to look at your countertops. People are not the only thing drawn to kitchens. Look at all the clutter on the countertops! Appliances, dishes, baskets, mail, knives…KNIVES? With that harried cook around, maybe we should deal with those first. Knives are dangerous and disturb the calm ch'i (energy) flow in a kitchen. They should be in a drawer. If that is not practical, a wood block away from the stove with under-counter lights will soften the sharp edges. Anything that is not used on a daily basis should be stored behind doors and in drawers. The exception is fresh food. Decorative baskets or bowls with fresh fruit and veg keeps us in the mood for healthy eating. The best overall shape for your counters should be an undulating shape or curved edges. Not stone if possible. Keep prep out of the corners which are "sharp" angles and work on a straight counter. The area needs to be well lit, even in the corners and ventilated. Practice good hygiene when cooking and put everything away after food prep and eating and you should keep an organized countertop. Overhead racks also add to the cluttered feeling and give an oppressive feeling to those that work or sit under it. Keep only prized decorative items on it. Reclaim your kitchen from clutter!

Love this!
Yum, fresh fruit in wooden bowl

Organized Martha via Google

Next,  just because it's behind closed doors doesn't mean you're in the clear. Go through your cabinets to see what clutter lurks there. Remove all empty jars, broken storage containers, lids that have no partners, chipped dishes and cups, broken and unused appliances and anything that is outdated, including food. If you are truly saving it for something, put it in a craft area, recycling area or shelves in an organizational area of the garage or mudroom. And maintain an area for recycling cans, bottles and papers out of the kitchen. Don't forget to clean out the fridge and freezer. Hide the trash can! Really, the best thing is to just purge. When you remove the old clutter, you make room for new, usable items. Try to practice healthier eating and buying, your family will benefit from it. Oh and good job Martha!

When designing a kitchen, the stove, sink and fridge should form some kind of triangle. If the sink or fridge ends up next to a stove, easy fix. Place a butcher block cutting board, a wooden bowl of ripening fruit or potted herb plants between them. That maintains the balance between fire, wood and water energies. Remember last week's post on balance in the bathroom? Check my archives if you need a refresher. The fridge can face a door because you spend hardly any time there. Hopefully the kitchen is not near the front door (always eating? hmmm…) or if there's a bathroom near, keep that door closed!

The stove should be placed so the cook never has their back to the main entrance of the kitchen. Oops, what if that can't be? A mirror placed behind the cooking surface is the traditional cure. Hmmm… works if you clean it every night. How about a shiny stainless steel or copper tea pot on the burner or next to the stove? Another traditional cure is a wind chime or clear crystal between the door and stove. Remember, it is all about intention. Make sure all the burners are clean and working and USE all of them, even if it is at different meals. Stoves below windows are not good Feng Shui, the energy goes out the window! No clocks in the kitchen or eating area, no one rushing here! Have cooking oils in decorative bottles, fresh herb plants, streaming sunshine through clean windows and family activities posted on the fridge and you are on your way to the perfect kitchen!

Perfect Feng Shui stove cures via Google

What about color? Traditional Feng Shui suggests kitchens should be white. This is so the food is the star. Imagine red and green peppers, purple eggplant, yellow corn against a white backdrop. The food would pop! I happen to love white cabinets, but this is so I can use a strong color on my walls. Yellows and greens are good. Yellow is an earth color and gathers people together. Green is a nurturing wood color for growth. I think if you use all natural materials whenever possible, you are on to something. Wood cabinets are wonderful in kitchens because they ARE natural, just make sure the ceiling, floors and counters are not also wood. Balance again! Try to steer clear of too sleek kitchens with tons of metal. If you happen to adore the look though, go for it! Just balance out with some natural elements in decorations or furniture.

Which brings us to the eat in kitchen. Feng Shui practitioners advocate round or oval tables so no one is the king of the table. Harmony reigns supreme. Keep it out of a busy crossroads area and have separate  instead of general lighting. Place plants around the area, calm artwork is a must, no abstract Picasso's here! Your brain will try to discern the art and not concentrate on the food. Soft tablecloths, good lighting (keep the ceiling fan off if you have to have one) and use candlelight for your evening meals if you can. Soft, calm, relaxing and inviting is what we're going for. Here would be good place for pops of red to stimulate conversation. Keep the clutter off the table but add fresh flowers. Who wouldn't LOVE to eat in a kitchen like that!

Pretty white, balanced kitchen via Pinterest
Write to me with any kitchen concerns you have and I'll see what I can do to help you out. Relax and have a good time in your kitchen! 

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