Who needs a 2,600-square-foot kitchen?
Celebrity chef Tyler Florence goes all out to design the House Beautiful showcase, but reminds us that you don't need a fancy kitchen to be a good cook.
What kind of kitchen would you design if price were no object?
Food Network chef Tyler Florence put together a 2,600-square-foot kitchen, indoor and outdoor, in his role as designer of House Beautiful's Kitchen of the Year. But, he says, the kitchen doesn't make the cook.
In an interview with The New York Times, Florence points that that you can cook great meals in a kitchen of any size. Size doesn't matter, he says, but organization does.
"Fifty thousand dollars’ worth of cabinets isn’t going to make you a better cook; cooking is going to make you a better cook," Florence told The Times. "At the end of the day, you can slice a mushroom in about three inches of space, and you can carve a chicken in a foot and a half. So it doesn’t matter how big the kitchen is. What matters is how well you organize three spaces that form a triangle."
That triangle, in case you have forgotten your kitchen-design basics, includes the stove, the refrigerator and the sink/prep space.
Kitchen remodels are one of the improvements most often done to a house. But watching home décor shows may make you think every house needs a kitchen the size of Texas, stocked with custom-made cabinets, oversize professional stainless-steel appliances and granite or marble countertops — even if the occupants don't cook.
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Florence, while he says he had fun designing the House Beautiful Kitchen, notes that those accoutrements are not required. We mentioned Monday that the latest edition of Consumer Reports has a special report on kitchen remodeling, with ratings on appliances and other products.
Asked by The Times, "What are the essentials of a great kitchen?" Florence responded:
You can make the same meal in every single kitchen. At the end of the day, you need a good solid set of pots and pans, only three knives — a chef’s knife, a paring knife and a serrated bread knife — and a really solid, oversized cutting board, probably about two feet across, because you want to be able to cut two chickens or chop enough vegetables for dinner, and actually get some work done.
House Beautiful also has photos of Florence's real home kitchen, which is considerably smaller than 2,600 square feet but looks very well-appointed, with wood floors, white cabinets and professional appliances.
The House Beautiful 2011 Dream Kitchen was on display at Rockefeller Center earlier this month. You can read all about the kitchen and the products used to create it at MSN Lifestyle.
What do you think is essential for a useful kitchen? What great meals have you created in tiny spaces? If you're redesigned a kitchen, what tips would you offer to a homeowner considering a kitchen makeover?
When we remodeled the kitchen at our home in Mexico we had a tiny space to work with. I could have torn down the wall between the kitchen and the old maid's room, but I remodeled that room for storage, laundry (washer, dryer and laundry sink), freezer, hot water heater and shelving. In the tiny space that was left for the kitchen, I designed one wall of cabinets exactly 14 inches deep, floor to almost the ceiling. It allowed us to keep a tight profile against the wall that led to the doors (one to the outside and one to the dining room.) That space was wonderful! It allowed us to store virtually everything so that it was within reach. It was not necessary to remove 3 or 4 things to get the one thing that lived in the back and then replace everything. Everything was in reach! I bought large plastic storage bins for flour, sugar, etc. I labeled them and stuck them on the bottom shelf. It was the most functional space I'd ever seen. In the middle of the cabinets I left a space. My carpenter built a cabinet (about 28 inches deep) with wheels that I could roll around for additional prep space. It was deep and in it were 4 large drawers and we kept our big pots, pans, lids, rolling pins, etc in them.
We had a blank wall and my husband designed a large square using metal boxes hung vertically. We called it our gadget wall and that's where we put small sauce pots, ladles, an omelet pan and other odds and ends.
The basic cooking triangle had the sink against the short wall under the windows. An immediate right turn brought me to the long wall. First was the dishwasher (almost no one in Mexico has one and my maid never used it), then the stove, a small cabinet, then the frig. The final corner had a another small cabinet with a false back, so to speak. Meaning it wasn't nearly as deep as you thought.
Along the top against that wall we built in regular cabinets, for dishes, serving pieces, etc.
We would regularly prepare food for ourselves and any guests we might have at any given time. Once a year we would prepare food for at least 80 people for our Boxing Day Party in that 'tiny' space.
And anyone who would spend upwards of 100,000 dollars on a kitchen when all you can do is serve Boil in 'Bag Rice is a couple bottles short of a case.
It's not the size of the kitchen: it's the talent, sweat and hard work that makes food great. So all you ladies who decided 'the kitchen's too small' have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.
Thanks for letting me rant and good luck with the kitchen
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.