The Surprising Power of the Kitchen
Updated: Feb 11
(Originally published in the Napa Valley Register)
While enjoying an Easter feast a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of the many holiday celebrations spent around kitchen tables. No doubt, the kitchen is the heart of the home and the place where a lifetime of memories are made. I have a special story to tell that makes such memories and celebrations occur every day.
The story begins with a walk-through with my client, Sandra, who wanted to remodel her kitchen. I had worked with her long enough that our relationship could handle a little teasing from me. You see, as I opened each of her cabinet doors, I found boxes of Matzo meal. Boxes and boxes. Why were there so many?
I think we can all relate to her explanation. That is, whenever she shopped for groceries, she couldn’t remember if she had any Matzo meal at home, so she’d buy a couple of boxes just to be safe. I do the same with olives and capers. What about you? The irony is that Sandra rarely cooked. She is a career woman with a vegetarian husband and two grown sons living away from home. Family sit-down meals were a rare occasion, even when her sons were young.
Sandra had avoided her kitchen at all costs. It was drab and barely functioning with its poor layout, old appliances and decrepit cabinets. But this was all about to change. Since Sandra’s house was a midcentury Eichler, a modern 1950s design and decor would have made sense. But country cottage is more in keeping with Sandra’s taste and preference. And, she loves the color blue. So with these parameters in mind, I designed a new and user-friendly layout, updated with stainless appliances, installed custom white cabinets, and underscored the cottage style with a sapphire blue quartz countertop.
But this story isn’t about the particulars of the design. It’s about the bonus that came about after this project was completed. Sandra feels happy and energized each time she walks into her new kitchen. So much so that she prepares daily meals for herself and her husband and makes weekend dinners for their sons, who visit much more frequently these days. Her family is now eating healthful meals instead of drive-by fast food and her husband has even taken a shine to cooking and has perfected his favorite eggplant Parmesan.
Sandra even hosts her family’s renewed Jewish traditions, which usually include elaborate culinary spreads (no doubt, some made with “fresh” Matzo meal). This project not only transformed her kitchen but also re-engaged her family relationships.
I don’t remember the time and budget allotted for this kitchen project and neither does Sandra. They are distant memories that have been replaced with new and treasured ones filled with family time now spent together.
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