In Praise of Small Kitchens

The builders are at last in residence and we have squeezed into the remainder of the house. The Studio is piled high with furniture and paintings and the Hallway is choked with even more paintings and even more furniture.

The builders will be wrenching off the back end of the house, which consists of ancient wash house, an old bathroom and a carport and sunroom that date from the 1950s. We are doing, what we all end up doing to villas – opening up the back end of the house to the sun and adding a deck.

This means we’re sort of camped out in our own house and in terms of eating it means that we are squeezed into a tiny kitchen only a few metres square for the next eight weeks.

Ours is a small kitchen, a very small kitchen by contemporary standards, but it’s made minute by its new dual use as a dining room and kitchen. There is however something appealing about the intensity of our new cooking/eating arrangement.

The view from the dining table is now so full-on. Familiar items are now seen anew. The whole space conjours a persistent memory of an earlier eat-in kitchen and brings with it an intense sense of warmth and coziness. Everything butts against something else. Every movement requires a certain degree of co-ordination.

At the same time that it’s intense the room seems lofty. One of the nice things about the villa is that even the most modest rooms have a certain grandness of proportion via their ceiling heights. This room, once a minor bedroom, has that very characteristic emphasised by a tall sash window. Sitting at the little table now positioned under that window gives the room a new sense of height that compensates for the intensity of the floor plan.

Two days in to the alterations and this all seems fun. The cats have slowly adjusted to the rearrangement – though not yet to the builders and our little kitchen seems a perfect bolt hole as winter really starts to kick-in.


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