If it was good nuff for Julia, what's wrong with this backsplash?

marvelousmarvinAugust 21, 2013

Since it would have been Julia Child's 101 birthday this week, I've been looking back at pictures of her famous kitchen which even garnered an exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum.

Julia Child used pegboard as a practical way to store items in her kitchen, but I was thinking there has to be something wrong with pegboard or else why haven't I seen it in more kitchens?

Given how much people loved Julia Child, I'm surprised that we never really saw pegboard catch on more in the kitchen.

Did people dislike pegboard for aesthetic reasons, or for more practical reasons?

For example, that pegboard backsplash just seems so practical and a great way to store kitchen tools, especially if you have limited drawers. I've got all these kitchen tools that have holes in them so you can hang them, but nothing to hang them from.

From an ergonomic point of view, we've got a limited range of heights where we can easily reach things. And, that backsplash height is right in the middle of that range. But, we don't really do anything with that backsplash space.

This post was edited by marvelousmarvin on Thu, Aug 22, 13 at 0:42

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Grunge in every single little hole LOL ! And the hooks that are used on peg boards come out every time you take something off of them...at least the peg board wall in our shed does. We have had peg board up on our shed wall for years. I get so tired of scrabbling around on the floor looking for the dang hook while holding the tool...sigh. There are plastic thingies that are supposed to hold the hooks but I don't find that they work all that well either.

Perhaps I have been going about it all wrong and your thread will solve my problem . I hope so.

But I still say that there is no way to clean the peg board...not sure how Julia did it. c

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 6:18AM
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Grunge for sure. She probably didn't have to clean it herself, lol. Maybe she did her splatter prep on the island.

Interesting, she had the dreadful OTR micro.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 7:20AM
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I used pegboard as a backsplash in my first kitchen. I did not have it behind the stove though. I painted it, stenciled it and polyurethaned it. It wiped down fine. Sorry, I don't have a picture of that kitchen. I now have a section of wall in my laundry room with pegboard. It is so functional.
Trailrunner, you need to get those little pieces that hold the hooks in place - not sure what they are called - peglocks?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 7:32AM
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Imagine.....she had a REGULAR ELECTRIC 30" range..with a MW over it....just like most of us regular folks....I guess proving the point you don't need a $5,000 gas range to turn out great food. Also, OTR microwaves are wonderful space savers for those of us with small kitchens....I loved it when I got my microwave off the little counter space I had.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 8:06AM
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Yes, we went from a built-in microwave to OTR microwave. A great space saver for our small kitchen.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 8:17AM
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It's not that there's anything wrong with it (although it's "dys-" hygienic), it's that we can do so much better these days, even at a modest price point. Take a look at Ikea's version of wall storage.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 8:20AM
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Wait, the pic in the OP is not Julia Child's kitchen. The pegboard in Julia's kitchen was not in places that get a lot of splatter. Her sink was in front of a window. Her commercial Garland range had a proper hood. This is Julia Child's kitchen in the Smithsonian.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 8:23AM
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Another pic of Julia's kitchen showing her commercial Garland all-gas range with hood. I cannot tell what is the backsplash on that wall, it may be nothing at all.

This post was edited by shannonplus2 on Wed, Aug 21, 13 at 8:35

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 8:24AM
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"Interesting, she had the dreadful OTR micro."

P.S. That is just meant as a reference to the general opinion here on GW. I was very surprised to see a standard range with a MW exhaust in a renowned cook's kitchen.

They are great space savers.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 9:07AM
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To me, that would just add clutter to a kitchen. It worked for Julia obviously, but it is not what I would want for our kitchen.

That first pic does not seem to be from Julia's kitchen. What renowned cook uses an electric range and OTR? Personally, I was glad that we got rid of our OTR, when we remodeled, but we had the room to move it elsewhere (above a single oven).

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 9:41AM
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Actually, I saw a show a year or so ago profiling some of today's top chefs and several of them had regular 30" ranges in their homes...one even commented that for your average everyday cooking a commercial range in a residence is overkill and that a good basic range from Sears is sufficient.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 9:54AM
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Here's what's wrong with them ... the area behind it is ideal for vermin.

I have a pegboard in the utility room and often see beady little spider eyes peeping out, or antennae wiggling in the holes. I'm just hoping the spiders will get the rest of the bugs and then move on.

Julia's pegboard was pot storage, away from the main cooking areas.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 9:59AM
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I've heard the same thing, that a good cook can cook on anything. Even those outfits used when camping. Forget what chef did that. They do prefer gas though.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 10:01AM
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Oh please, with the bugs, lol. But true. Good hiding place and quarters for them. May be a little too much light would deter though, lol.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 10:04AM
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Snookums2 - see my 2 posts above and pics. That kitchen in the OP is not Julia Child's.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 10:49AM
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shannon, I did see your pictures. Not sure why the OP is supposed to be her kitchen too. thx

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 10:57AM
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Someone will probably throw buns at me but I really like the wall in shannon's pics of Julia Childs kitchen with all the pots/pans hanging.

For pots/pans that are used almost everyday that is something to file away for reference. Way better, I think, then having them hang on a pot rack over an island. JMHO!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 11:41AM
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Yeah ... check out the faucet in the OP ... dead giveaway.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 11:50AM
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Julia Child's "Smithsonian kitchen" kitchen, actually, her Cambridge, Mass. kitchen.

DIY pegboard in a modern kitchen at
"DIY Network"

This post was edited by nosoccermom on Thu, Aug 22, 13 at 10:57

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 12:06PM
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Marvelousmarvin, the OP, didn't say his post showed Julia's kitchen. He just pointed out that she used pegboard in her kitchen, so why wouldn't pegboard be a good BS, like in the picture he posted. But, as others have shown, Julia used the pegboard away from any spatter from stove or sink, just to hang her pots. If it ever got grungy where she had it, it would be easy to remove and hang new. I think the dirt factor is why it isn't done a lot. But you could just paint the BS with something washable and put up hanging contraptions, like magnetic knife holders and rows of hooks for utensils, that would work like the pegboard.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 1:26PM
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You could install the pegboard, so that it would be easy to take down and clean every so often...maybe with screws and the right fasteners?

I love pegboard (and I have a bunch of spiders...mostly outside) but I don't want to put it up in my kitchen. I'm hoping to create a tool space in my laundry room....the kind with the shapes of the tools drawn around them, so we all know where to put them away! LOL

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 1:58PM
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Fori is not pleased

I like a rail system (pegboard cleaning--ug!). I even installed Ikea's cheapest rail system in my camper (30" wide kitchen including cooktop and sink).

I might do a rail again, perhaps at least upgrading to Lee Valley's.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 2:30PM
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I have the Lee Valley rail system and love it !!

DH at command central :) I use everything all the time and with the 1400 cfm hood it all stays clean.

( will get those thingies !! they look great...Lowes here I come ) c

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 3:45PM
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I also have pegboard behind my counters in the laundry room. Handy there as its a place to hang extra tools (laundry is upstairs so it's nice not to run down to the garage if we need a hammer or screwdriver for something on the second floor), rack containers for doodads and cleaning supplies, etc. We also have pegboard in the broom closet downstairs.

Handy in those two places but I echo everything trailrunner said. The plastic holder thingies do pop off from time to time, and if you think about it there probably is some grunge in the holes. And lets just say that the look isn't exactly beautiful. :)

The benefit to pegboard is that you can rearrange your storage as your needs change. That's why it's so great on a large wall like in a broom closet or a shed or a garage, for example. But in the 18" space behind your kitchen counters? No thanks!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 3:47PM
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Here's a real downside to pegboard - we've had it in our basement workshop for 25 years. But this year we've had record rains in the Philly area - over 10 inches in June, another 15 or so in July and still more rain in August.

Our basement and storage room are dry but the humidity from all the rain and heat has been so high that the work room started to smell musty. I immediately put a dehumidifier in there and it's been running non-stop for 2 weeks. Normally we don't need it at all. Well most of the musty smell is gone but I noticed there's a grey, powdery mold on parts of the pegboard. And in those areas the pegboard has changed color around the little holes - as if he had been wet.

Luckily we only have 2 sections that need to be replaced, the other pegboard seems to have a coating on it and those sheets are fine.

So that's the downside - regular pegboard is absorbent.

But you can buy other materials - plastic - polypropylene, even galvanized metal.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 4:10PM
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I wonder if Julia just bought and painted a new sheet of pegboard whenever her pegboard got too dirty or grungy.

I'm not a DIY type, but it doesn't seem like it'd be too expensive or too difficult to do take down the old pegboard sheet and put up a new one.

And, I thought I remembered Julia Child used an electric stove.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 12:49AM
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One possibility is to use perforated stainless steel sheeting as a peg board. It doesn't have to be the whole backsplash and make it removable for cleaning. With some of the backsplashes incorporating SS, it could work. Be creative.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 7:00AM
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Marvelousmarvin - Julia used an electric stove on the first cooking shows, the ones in black-and-white. She did not like it, but made due, cause remember, in those days a cooking show like hers was a complete First for TV. No one really put thought into equipping the studio kitchen, it was as bare bones as could be. As the show became successful, she eventually switched to an gas stove, and later, she used her actual home kitchen for the TV show, instead of the studio's. Also, as a side note, she did not like the electric wall oven in her home kitchen, and used it mostly for the TV show where it was easier to film due to its height and location. For her home cooking most of the time she used the gas ovens of her Garland range (it had two ovens).

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 8:30AM
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I was re-watching that delightful movie, Julie and Julia, and I noticed that Julia Childs actually did use pegboard as a backsplash like the first picture I posted to store her kitchen tools.

She famously used pegboard to store her pots and pans on a wall away from the splatter of a sink or stove. But, she also uses it on two different walls to hold her kitchen tools even though that pegboard is right next to her stove and oven. She didn't use pegboard by the sink because with those windows there was no room for it.

This is a similar picture of Julia's kitchen that was posted before, but hopefully its clearer in this picture that there's a sheet of pegboard to the left of the oven to store her kitchen tools and gadgets.

And, on a different wall, next to the stove, she uses pegboard again to hold her whisks and smaller pots.

She must have been a big fan of pegboard because she used that quite often in her own home kitchen and the TV kitchen studio she used to film the French Chef. I couldn't find a picture of her TV kitchen, but in the movie it looked like she used pegboard all around the kitchen.

Was pegboard in the kitchen just more popular back then because it was also used in Avis DeVota's kitchen too in the movie?

(I thought it was an interesting storytelling device to combine Julia Child's and Julie Powell's stories into one movie, but I would have preferred it if they had ditched Powell's story and focused more on Julia Child's and Avis Devota's friendship instead.)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 1:51AM
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Julia Child was a real cook, and pegboard was a practical solution for her kitchen.

Even as the cost of kitchens haveskyrocketed since Julie Child's TV shows, people are cooking less and less in these kitchen. The fancy 100K kitchens for many homes is really nothing more than a glorified microwave.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 10:54PM
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Julia's husband Paul did all the organizing and devised the pegboard as a way for her to see where everything was very quickly. It was a handy system for all the copper pots, which were graduated in size and which had lids with skillet-style long handles -- the lids hung beside the pots. The kitchen was large but very old fashioned and storage was limited.

Julia hated the microwave and electric stoves. She didn't like anything "fancy."

Don't forget, kitchens didn't become "lifestyle" rooms much before 2000.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 9:14AM
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I think it is fine for lack of space. It may get gross but it should be easy to replace, no?

That said, Julia's kitchen stresses me out. It is very cluttered...she has oil paintings tacked onto her cabinets and there is no free counter space really...the thought of keeping that space tidy? I just don't think you really can, and I doubt she did. Was she safe and clean enough? Sure? But as tidy as I would like to be? Probably not in that kitchen.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 8:46PM
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It'd be easy to replace for sure. We use a wire rack with hooks for the same purpose--it's worked fantastically for us for 17 years now. Elfa made it back then. I'd like to upgrade to a stainless one, haven't found one I'm sure is sturdy enough online.

Heidia--you are completely correct about the visual clutter of such a rack. On the other hand, my cube at work is all visual clutter on purpose--I've decided I actually like it that way.

And, as others have said--it's very functional to be able to just pull what you need off a wall. We cook a lot, kitchen's very much a workplace, not a showplace. Though I'd like a bit more showy. Thus the dreamed-of kitchen reno! NOT having thermofoil cabs with the corners peeling near the stove, wouldn't that be nice?

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 9:45PM
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