Thursday, March 12, 2015

A philosophical view toward kitchen design

I am an accountant. Not only by training, but by inclination. There was no question what profession I would pursue and I started training way back my freshman year of high school. By this I mean I am precise; I enjoy detail, clear instructions, and rules rather than guidelines. The odds are that if something needs to be done, then there is a right way to do it.


As I progressed through my career I found that even in accounting there are "grey areas" (we've all heard about those, right?). Those areas are particularly prevalent in financial analysis where you take assumptions and history and try to figure out the best answer to what will happen if you do X. You learn to work with ambiguity and accept that your assumptions may be flat out wrong (hopefully not, but many people help develop those assumptions, so it's often more of a crapshoot than anyone wants to admit). You find that you have to adapt to new data, to stay flexible.

I turned to the kitchen to help restore my faith in "exact". Baking in particular is more science than art. Understanding the ratio of wet ingredients to dry, using weights instead of volume measures, following the rules, will yield consistently yummy results. I'm a very good baker. Cooking is more flexible and I was never an intuitive cook. That's why I enjoy Cook's Illustrated magazine - they are the ultimate do-it-this-way and it-will-turn-out-that-way resource.

But again...

I now spend significantly more time in my kitchen and I have expanded my repertoire of dishes. I stepped away from cookies and cakes where ratios really matter, and entered the world of bread where you have to adjust according to the feel of the dough. And I have begun to apply that instinct to my cooking as well. I still use recipes but I'm learning to treat them as starting points and I'm starting to trust my knowledge of flavors, textures, and the way ingredients work together.

So, what does this have to do with kitchen design? Well, I've been thinking about all this because I'm finalizing the kitchen layout. I've worked in this space for over a year and I think I have a much better feel for what I want and need. I've moved things around, used temporary storage racks, and tweaked to get what works for me. Most of the work left to be done centers around the cabinetry so there will definitely be some precise calculations, but I'll remember to stay flexible. To appreciate the art and purpose behind the numbers. And to let instinct guide the process.


  1. That's actually the best way to design a kitchen. It's the one room that needs to really work for the person that's cooking or baking in it. I hope you share the plans :)

    1. I'll definitely be sharing photos of the finished (and interim) kitchen. So much of this spaces truly mine - most especially the very short island. It's a comfortable height for me (I'm 5'2") but way shorter than industry standard.