The kitchen. The mighty mighty kitchen. The soul of the home.
I have learned that no matter how inviting you make the other rooms of your house, the kitchen is where everyone gravitates. It’s warm, a little bit messy and it’s where the food is. How could the other rooms of your house compete?
Case in point… My mother had a supercool house in Summerland/Santa Barbara, California. It was on 8 acres overlooking the ocean but the house itself was a small yet interesting one bedroom Balinese style house. The kitchen was minuscule… But there was something about that kitchen. Even though it was tiny, it had a big industrial style Wolf range and a huge industrial stainless steel refrigerator. The sink looked out to the ocean. There was hardly any counterspace but plenty of windows. No one ever complained. There wasn’t even a place to sit down in the kitchen but it didn’t matter because we all just stood there chopping vegetables, making pancakes on the griddle and making my mother’s famous wontons. All of my friends with their giant houses and kitchens in Santa Barbara all loved and were envious of my mother’s little house and her teeny tiny kitchen. I will have to find pictures of my mother’s house and do a whole blog about it. You all will love it.
Case in point… My friend, Diandra, as you know, had my all-time favorite house in Santa Barbara. I spent a lot of time at this house when Diandra lived there, I spent a lot of time at this house while my friend Susan rented it for a few years when Diandra was in New York, and I spent a lot of time at this house when Gracie and I lived there for about a year watching over it while Diandra was trying to sell it because she was still living in New York. Whenever we had a party at the house, no matter what we did to make the other rooms welcoming, the entire party usually ended up in the kitchen. Even if we told people to go to the living room, no one obeyed and everyone just stayed right in the kitchen. I know why. In Diandra’s kitchen there was the coziest fireplace that was on throughout the day no matter the weather. There was a cozy banquette that we upholstered in Carolina Irving fabric that was blue and white with little Spanish birds. There was a huge kitchen island and rare blue marble countertops that everyone ended up sitting on. Huge Wolf range, 2 industrial refrigerators with glass doors, a little door to the center courtyard, plenty of windows looking out to the ocean overlooking the orange trees. This was definitely the soul of the house and where we spent 90% of our time. There were always dogs running in and out, something delicious cooking on the stove, children sitting at the table next to the fireplace, flowers being arranged in the industrial sink, afternoon tea being organized in the butlers kitchen and where everyone felt relaxed. It was a glorious kitchen.
Diandra's kitchen. Look at the little fireplace and the fabulous Carolina Irving fabric on the banquette.
Another view of Diandra's kitchen.
Case in point… I rented for years and years and years a little cottage at the beach in Santa Barbara. It was the size of a postage stamp but it was my favorite house I’ve ever had. Early 1900s, wood shingled, small yard surrounded by ferns, palm trees, lemon trees, eucalyptus trees, Hawaiian ginger plants and purple wisteria. It was a magical little house and where my best memories are. The house was near the little shopping street of Montecito. After my friends finished their shopping, they would come to my little house to slum it before going back to their big fat proper houses. I think they liked my house better than their own because they were always in my house… And we were always in my kitchen. My kitchen was so small that if you stretched out both of your arms, you could touch both sides of the kitchen probably. And yet, this is where all the action happened. Over the years I had collected so many photographs of my friends and family that I ran out of picture frames and places to put the picture frames so I just started taping up all of the photos to the walls starting in the kitchen. Over the years, the collection just kept growing and growing until it was basically wallpaper from the floor to the ceiling throughout the entire kitchen into the dining room. It was the most charming thing you’ve ever seen! Everyone loved to look at the pictures while having tea or cocktails or even dinner in my kitchen. I think I’ve only sat at my dining room table a few times over all of those years. Everything happened in the kitchen. Remember when people had house phones? My house phone was in the kitchen, on the wall with a superlong cord. I spent hours on the phone, talking while sitting on the floor of the kitchen on the threadbare Oriental rugs filled with sand from the beach, dogs running in and out of the front door, Jack Johnson on the stereo, ocean breeze… in total and utter happiness.
My little cottage...
I am sure all of you have all of these brilliant memories of your kitchens as well. That is why the kitchen is the most important room of the house.
Let’s take a look at some of my favorite kitchens…
On a little side note, I thought I would show all of you my friend Yolanda’s refrigerator. It’s brilliant, truly brilliant. She designed it herself and to me, it is the highlight of the house.
Yolanda inside her refrigerator.
So that’s that for kitchens. I have more kitchen photographs on my Pinterest board. Check it out HERE.
Okay, which room of the house should we look at next? Let’s do dining rooms… Stay tuned.A toute!
*Something you don’t know about me? When I was growing up in Malibu, I had a little crush on a boy. Okay, I have to admit, a huge crush on a boy. Chris. Chris Cortazzo. He lived across the street from me and he was the lifeguard at Paradise Cove Beach. He was kind, spiritual, sensitive, under the radar, he loved animals and was a vegetarian. I loved him. I think I was only 15 years old so it was definitely a crush that I had no intention of acting on. I was too shy for that. I admired him from afar. I also remembered that he had the nicest parents I’ve ever met. Sometimes he would walk me home from the beach to make sure I got home safely. That was in the late 80s. I have not seen him since. FlashForward to yesterday… Chris Cortazzo was at my apartment in Paris. I kid you not. What are the chances of that? I’ll tell you… It turns out that Dreamboat happens to be the most successful real estate broker in all of Malibu and Coldwell Banker’s top real estate broker in the whole wide world! Complete bigshot. Dreamboat also happens to be my friend Yolanda’s real estate broker because she is selling her house in Malibu. See HERE. What a small world! I asked Yolanda to call him and invite him over to my apartment for tea because I saw on Facebook that Dreamboat was in Paris. Magically, the very next day, my doorbell rings and standing in my living room is that boy that I loved holding the most beautiful bouquet of flowers for moi. I knew I had good taste in men because he was still gorgeous and sweet and it turns out that we have a lot in common. We both love to decorate! Chris has an amazing ranch in Malibu that is to die for. See HERE. He also just finished a new house on the street that we grew up on in Malibu that he decorated with the help of brilliant decorator Martin Lawrence-Bullard. We spent the afternoon having chai tea and homemade goat cheese tarts, talking about our love of homes, decorating, traveling and Malibu and the fine art of “juzhing.” It always warms my heart when people arrive into my life at whatever stage who possess something special. Chris is that person. Kindhearted, softhearted, endearing, loving and genuine. What a wonderful afternoon. As Dreamboat was leaving, he planted a kiss on my forehead and I nearly fainted. Ain’t life grand?
Handsome Chris Cortazzo
Beautiful flowers that handsome Chris Cortazzo brought for moi.