Kitchen Design Inspiration from Julia Child

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Julia Child called her well-equipped, small, and beautiful kitchen “the beating heart and social center of the household…both practical and beautiful, a working laboratory as well as a living and dining room.”

Her carefully and lovingly assembled hard-working kitchen has much to teach us about kitchen design that evolves while serving the people who use it daily.

Collect the things you love

There’s much to learn from her small yet jam-packed kitchen. For Ms. Child, keeping kitchen gadgets and clutter to a minimum was a silly notion. She was well-known for her love of collecting all the newest and most interesting kitchen extras. “I never met a knife I didn’t like,” she said.

Customize your kitchen to increase happiness

For Ms. Childs, taller countertops were a must. She was 6’2” tall, so her 38” countertops were at a much more comfortable height for her than the standard 36” countertops. Her husband chose the mysterious and timeless blue-green color of the cabinets in 1961. There are still many inquiries as to the exact color of the paint. A close match is Bali 702 by Benjamin Moore.

Keep important things within easy reach

You may not want an entire wall covered in pegboard, but there’s something to be said for designing a kitchen so that the things you most frequently use are easily accessible. Ms. Childs kept her silverware in containers on the countertop, six rolling pins out and stored in a big copper pot, and wooden utensils in ceramic crocks behind the stove.

If you aren’t familiar with this iconic hard-working kitchen, you can check it out in person at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. A photo tour is available at the museum’s website. Julia Childs donated her Massachusetts home kitchen to the museum in 2001. The space is just 14’ by 20’ and the exhibit is visible from three doorways leading into the room.

The most important lesson to take from this iconic kitchen is that the “beating heart and social center of the household” is also an important reflection of the people who live and cook there. A kitchen that really works well does so because the design is carefully integrated with the habits, tastes, and wishes of the people who spend the most time there.

For more kitchen inspiration and information about how to make your kitchen “the beating heart and social center of the household,” go ahead and contact us.


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