Monday, January 2, 2012

First Party!

A little Christmas spirit(s)!

A few nights ago we officially christened the house with a dinner party, and put our new kitchen to the test in the process. 
When you design a kitchen, you try to plan for all the activities it will need to accommodate day to day as well as the occasional big event.

Can several cooks work in the kitchen at the same time without tripping over each other? Is the range up to the task of cooking multiple items at once? Is there room enough in the fridge to chill all the beverages and store the prepared items until serving time?

Miss K made the placecards
and did the flower arrangements
And the dining area; is there room to add all the leaves to the table plus a couple of card tables? Can you fit, in this case, 17 chairs around the tables without resorting to climbing over one another to get in and out?

The answer is YES!
The table before...

...and the morning after.
All afternoon and evening the kitchen was a dream to work in and that enormous island (that we thought was too big) was a lifesaver. We used it as a staging area when serving the soup course and plating the salad course. Miss K and two of her friends were wonderful “waitresses” taking the food to each guest and later removing dishes when each person was finished. Add in a couple of lifelong women friends who contributed helping hands by making the salad and a dessert, a gracious husband who kept everyone’s wine glasses full, several other charming husbands and their lovely wives deep in conversation and…well, a good time was had by all!

During the design phase, one of the things I was worried about with a big, open, combined kitchen and dining room was how I would be able to separate a messy kitchen from a nicely set table in the dining area. Once the food is cooked, I want to be able to focus on relaxing at the table with the pots and pans out of sight.

The solution we came up with was to use lighting to distinguish the spaces so that when we are in the dining area, we can turn off the kitchen lights and let the lack of light "hide" the mess. I wasn't actually sure if this would work, but the combination of having no lights on in the kitchen and candles and a chandelier lit over the dining table made the single big space feel like two separate spaces--just what I had hoped for.

Lesson learned: Light (or the absence of it) is just as space-defining as actual walls.

Our lighting plan for the kitchen/dining room includes four wall sconces and a chandelier on dimmer switches in the dining half of the room; one pendent over the kitchen sink and another matching one over the breakfast nook table; eight recessed ceilings lights on three different switches (lit in two "triples" and one pair) in the main kitchen area; a ceiling light in the pantry; and a light in the range hood (still to be installed).

"Rondo" chandelier by Maxim

"Calliope" wall sconce by Robert Abbey

"Trilo" mini pendant by Besa Lighting
Just as important as being a good party space, the kitchen also functions wonderfully with only us in the house. The reality is that most of the time we are in our houses alone, with a spouse and/or children. Most of us host big parties only once in a while.
Having a big, well-appointed kitchen for parties is fun, but one that is cozy on a day to day basis is more important. I’m happy to say that I am loving this entire house more and more each day and that it fits me like a glove—the me I already am as well as the me I’m still in the process of becoming. I couldn’t ask for more!

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