Sunday, December 11, 2011

Kitchen Conundrum: Tyranny of the Big White

Ever since we bought our new, bright white refrigerator last spring, we've been thinking of how to rework our kitchen. Over and over again, the answer seems to be: white!

I've read that the vogue for big white kitchens may have been sparked by the 2003 movie Something's Gotta Give. Behold its starring kitchen:

I've also read that cabinet maker and kitchen designer Christopher Peacock is responsible for the white kitchen craze. Here he is in his "scullery kitchen." I never knew sculleries could look so good! This one is clearly for the upstairs crowd...wonder what the downstairs scullery is like?

But is a white kitchen a matter of fashion or lasting style? In June I visited the John F. Kennedy Historic Site in Brookline, MA. And what did I find there in the circa-1917 home? Rose Kennedy had a white kitchen!

I think white must go beyond style into function. White is easy to keep clean (because you can see the dirt); it goes with everything; it reflects light, making small spaces seem larger; and white appliances don't cost extra (unlike stainless steel). Even most of my modest apartment kitchens have been mostly white. It's kind of a default choice for a reason; kitchens are meant to work hard and last a long time, so it makes sense to choose something that looked as good in 1917 as it did in 2003 (and hopefully as it will in 2017).

(This is the kitchen from the tiny little 1920's bungalow we lived in in LA. Kind of a mess here, but it worked incredibly well despite non-fancy appliances and modest materials.)

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