Today, the kitchen is officially the center of the home. Due to the evolution of our lifestyle as well as changes in the way the kitchen functions, we can now declare that the kitchen is the center of the home.
During the last 40 years, kitchens have completely transformed from being a purely functional space to the center of our living space. In the past, kitchens were treated as a room used only for food storage and preparation. Since kitchens in the past were not so attractive, the goal was to hide them from the rest of the home. Our lifestyle in the past was different from today, because it was more common for the entire family to get together for meals and use a dining room when gathering.
New York is a great place to see the evolution of kitchens. Typically in the older pre-war apartments, the kitchen and the maid’s room is connected and a dining room on the opposite side. They are completely separate from the rest of the apartment. In post war building from the 1950 to the 1970, the kitchen was planned as a more integral part of the apartment, usually as a Manhattan Galley kitchen, but still with closed walls separating the kitchen from the adjacent rooms. Starting in the 1980s, most kitchens would be open to the adjacent living room space with a pass thru (a small window). Today, kitchens are completely open and are located in the heart of the home as the central and most accessible part of the living space.
Today, the kitchen is no longer only a room used for food preparation, but it is truly an integral part of the living space and the separation between kitchen, dining area, and living area no longer exists. The central area is usually an island or peninsula with some seating’s which is used for activities including entertaining, hanging out, watching TV, working on a laptop, preparing homework, and more. Typically when entertaining, whether it’s a couple or a large party, that central island would serve as the main serving area and people would gather around it. Official family dining is not so typical because the family members come and go according to our various busy scheduled and are accustomed to different diets so typically we would open the fridge, grab some food, sit on the island, and eat. Our lifestyle is completely different from the past making the kitchen and the surround area where we spend most of our time.
Over 80% of the time we spend at home is usually spent in and around the living space (rather than our bedrooms) making the kitchen more important than we realize. This means that we spend many years of our lives in and around the kitchen. The kitchen truly defines our quality of life. Making a good kitchen is convenient for cooking nutritious meals as a symbol of healthy living.
We can see that kitchens are the center of our living space not only in the way they function, but also in the design elements defining the appearance of the kitchen. Kitchen cabinets, appliances and countertops no longer look like “kitchens”, but are considered furniture. Appliances are typically hidden by panels which make them look completely integrated into the cabinets. We can panel refrigerators and dishwashers easily and today we are starting to see a trend of hiding ovens into the inside of cabinets as well as sinks and even cooktops are made to integrate into the countertops.
Since the kitchen is such an important part of our living space and our life, a kitchen may be the single most important item which can significantly impact our quality of life. Most people define these times as the age of technology with the internet, smart phones and electronic gadgets taking over our lives, but actually we are also living in the quality of life age because we are all working hard to improve our quality of lives. A well-functioning and attractive looking kitchen can significantly improve our quality of life.