Why didn't we think of that?

mpagmomDecember 5, 2011

This isn't even a joke. It's a serious suggestion from our friends at Better Homes and Gardens.

Hide Kitchen Clutter

"Try a nifty panel system in an open floor plan. There's nothing relaxing about sitting down to dinner with a stack of dirty pots and pans staring back at you. But when dining or living space opens directly off a small kitchen, what choice do you have? Stain-resistant all-weather fabric easily slides closed to hide this kitchen's prep area while leaving the oversize island open for dining."

They ask, "what choice do you have?"

How about washing the dishes? How about putting the stools on the other side of the island or rolling it to a better view?

Not that there's room for eating on the over-accessorized, no-overhang island...

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because "we're" practical.

That's one of the dumbest ideas I've ever seen.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 1:23PM
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Remember Mary Tyler Moore's little apartment kitchen where the shutters could close off the passthrough and hide it from the living room? This is just that on a larger scale. The idea has been around for ages. Look at Japanese homes and how they use shoji screens.

I actually did something similar in an open concept home but it involved movable fabric panels instead of drapes. It worked quite well actually when you wanted to screen off the work going on in the kitchen from the rest of the folks in the dining or great rooms.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 1:33PM
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LWO, now you're taking all the fun out of it. I was waiting for someone to chime in that it was a code violation.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 1:48PM
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Is this another Manhattan apartment solution...where that island is also the only dining area and possibly the guest bed? :)

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 3:12PM
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LL - lol...now you've made me remember a lovely piece from from a book Mom gave me for my 8th or so birthday, "Poetry for Children":

Get up, get up you lazy head,
Get up, you lazy sinner,
We need those sheets for table cloths,
It's almost time for dinner.

I've always wondered if Mom actually looked at that book very hard before she bought it. Mom's a big fan of poetry and can still recite "Annabel Lee" and others of that era. Way before Shel Silverstein, this book was the best!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 3:35PM
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I think you're right lavender_lass, and that is really the shower curtain! Now it all makes sense.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 3:36PM
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Now come on. Think of the exercise the owners will get putting out the flames when that curtain catches on the stove burner- what a great work-out opportunity! Plus, think of how great it will be when the curtain gets wet from the sink and starts getting that nice mildewy smell. All the fun of an old shower curtain right there in the kitchen. Plus, who doesn't want to move a curtain aside to get into the fridge for their evening snack (I'm assuming they have a fridge hidden somewhere back there?)

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 4:00PM
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These all sound like objections from people who've never lived in a studio apartment. The curtain is shown pulled for the picture but it is supposed to be pushed back out of the way until you are done cooking and probably stays that way 90% of the time. I've seen and lived in lots of apartments that have variations of above.

The lame part of this one is the cable track which is saggy and probably makes it harder to open and close.

I have known a number of people who eat on their beds because that is where they have room to do so. In fact I got so used to it that I often eat dinner sitting on a footstool with my plate on the bottom of the bed while I watch TV, even though I have two dining room tables.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 4:26PM
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I've lived in studios. This is tragic.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 4:54PM
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LOL!!! I'm not sure which is funniest: LL, Suzanne's ditty, or Pal's use of the bed for a table.

What choice do you have? I have walls!! The first thing contractors wanted to do is rip a hole between my kitchen and dining room, even though the house isn't suited to it. Silly people. ;) Love my walls. :)

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 5:06PM
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Circus Peanut

Open Plan is from the devil.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 5:29PM
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Oh, come on. It's a very good idea/solution for places that need one, and a whole lot do.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 5:30PM
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This post is for all who are deciding on a single bowl or split sink. A perfect example of why I have an oversized single bowl! The dinner cleanup goes straight into the sink (out of site) to wait until guests leave and I wash!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 5:31PM
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Long ago most people lived in one room where they cooked, ate, socialized, slept, bred, and died.

Even the lords of the manor did the same. When they got full of themselves, they lifted themselves up on a dais and invented the solar to separate themselves from their serfs and retainers.

Time marched on and eventually John Fowler and Nancy Lancaster were decorating chic sitting rooms with chintz. Billy Baldwin did living rooms in the US.

And now we have come full circle with walls being torn down in regular houses of all stripes in order to provide for the open plan that appears so trendy. In a nation made up of striving immigrants and their descendants it's ironic that our decorating choices seem to be going backwards now.

All the while we've got bathrooms bigger than some drawing rooms of earlier generations and obssess over the question of the tastefulness of having a powder room connected to a dining room or kitchen. Here's a thought: as recently as Victorian times dining room sideboards commonly contained pots for gentlemen to relieve themselves in while passing the port after the ladies retired to the drawing room.

I think our forebears would be bemused that these days well-off people in enormous houses pay extra to have to gather together in one room.

Unless you truly live in studio, it easy to solve the kitchen-aesthetic problem by eating in your dining room. What a good idea!


    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 6:17PM
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And in earlier centuries people nobility actually relieved themselves at the table. Ladies in waiting would sit under the table with a chamberpot for those women whose dresses were so elaborate that they would have trouble getting up from the table.

I am not sure that the peasantry who ate sitting on the floor or a piece of a stump had it so bad, since they at least kept these functions separate.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 6:58PM
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Now I've got this stuck in my head:

(On another note, kitchen/dining room featured a shuttered pass-through until I took a screwdriver to it)

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 7:15PM
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The kitchen peeking out is so pretty, no one would want to hide it. The curtains make the space seem smaller.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 7:36PM
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I grew up in a house with an actual dining room with toile wall paper, a swinging door to the kitchen and French doors to the hall. We ate there every night with actual cloth napkins, and stayed until my parents finished their after dinner coffee, and my father, his cigar. We had discussions. The Cuban Missile Crisis happened when my youngest brother was about 6. I remember his telling us all what we should do about it. There were lots of guns involved in his version. At 11, I was scared witless. Mostly we discussed anything and everything, although the etymology of words was a favorite. That same brother told me recently that he could easily toss his Blackberry, except that he would miss being able to check word etymology whenever he happened to wonder about one.

Our house has a single room kitchen-dining room. When the kids were growing up, that's where we ate dinner and discussed everything under the sun. Big house with a separate dining room to little place with a rolling island (?), it's good to get together at the end of the day.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 7:40PM
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Liriodendron, your comment about bathrooms bigger than drawing rooms reminded me of this:

I can't believe we're building a house without a fireplace or a waiting room in the master bathroom!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 8:24PM
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Mpagmom, that bathroom is the perfect place for every mother who escapes to her bathroom as the only retreat in the house where she can get any peace! ;-) It appears to be sadly lacking in storage, though.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 6:48PM
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"a very good idea/solution for places that need one"

rosie - that's absolute rot , no place "NEEDS" to have a hidden sink / stove / fridge. The occupants may WANT to hide them or prefer not to look at them - but that's a far cry from NEEDING something.

"it easy to solve the kitchen-aesthetic problem by eating in your dining room."

-or -

put the kitchen in it's own room with a door(s) that you can close ! Been doing that for a hundred years.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 11:10AM
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I don't understand the actual picture. It looks staged beyond recognition. The island does not really accommodate seating. Nor would it make sense to cover the kitchen and leave those plates and baskets sitting in the living space.

What is interesting to me is that it is a cheezy version of the way palimpsests' kitchen is set up, but not as successful.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 11:23AM
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I agree that the actual saggy curtained example is a poor one, but if you've ever lived with a kitchen like this, you would understand why "just closing it off" is not always best. It dedicated floorspace solely to the kitchen, and usually not enough to make it comfortable anyway:

Putting a single wall kitchen in a closet or behind screens that close up IN the floorspace allows some of that floorspace to Flex for something else.

Since Marcolo brought up my kitchen:

Versus the before:

And people DON'T get it. The comment by potential buyers is (other than the occasional "that looks stupid') is that the "kitchen is smaller than in the other units".

It's *not, it's actually slightly *bigger in footprint to the front edge of the island, and functionally it is even bigger because I can prep or stage standing on the outer perimeter of the island while the primary cook is in the main work aisle. That wouldn't work with a wall there.
So the illusion is probably too successful.

Some people do blow out the entire wall, but that makes some of the apartments look like a kitchen with an apartment in it not an apartment with a kitchen in it.

Done the right way, screening makes sense. I am not an "open plan" type of person if the house is large, but there are a lot of small spaces out there, at least where I live.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 12:58PM
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We live in an area where this solution would also be handy.

There are lots of single family homes in this very high cost of living area that were built in the 40s and 50s that were built completely without a dining room . These are typically 800 to 1100 sq ft homes with 2 or 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and only two common rooms: a small living room and a small 'eat-in' kitchen. Thus it is impossible to "eat in your own dining room" because there isn't one and never has been) and where the eat-in-kitchen doesn't have enough room to seat the families that now live in them so if you leave them with their original walled-in design, there is no place for the family to eat together as one (although some forgo a sofa in the living room and use a table to both watch TV and eat from (if they haven't converted the living room to another bedroom, that is). Most, though have long since opened the kitchen to the living room since the house design became non-functional once the families that bought them had children grow beyond toddlers.

Interestingly, the original walled-in-kitchen design might actually be more functional today for those families that never eat together and thus only need an eat-in kitchen that seats 2 or 3 at most.

The OP's photo, however, obviously isn't in such house.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 2:31PM
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Palimpsest, what you have is intelligence and good taste. Neither quality is in general supply, and magazines can't actually provide them as DIY.

I would argue that you do have "wall" with a very large doorway. You have cleverly disguised the fridge and island as living room furniture. That makes your situation very different from the one in the example.

People in actual studio apartments often do wonders with portable screens, or urban shojis. If you have a screen that separates the bed from the sofa, and another that closes off the sight of the kitchen from the entertaining space, you can make a very small apartment look like much more than it is. You can also do it cleverly with alcoves if you're the architect. There's also something to be said for the Swiss Army Knife version, where you just design all the functional areas to work with each other and have them all hang out as a group. What doesn't work is hanging boudoir curtains in a function area which is often wet, greasy and/or full of flames. Not cool.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 4:53PM
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The curtain doesn't bother me. Look at the island/table and superimpose the characters in the poker-playing dogs old lithograph on it. Or a family playing "Sorry." Surely the draped background, when closed, would be a more dramatic background than a sink and range. And take away the gauzy white drapes and superimpose some dramatic heavy velvet. Hey, turn the chandelier into a gaslight hanging lamp. Instant chic!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 8:03PM
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"I have known a number of people who eat on their beds because that is where they have room to do so. "

you know me?!!!!!! that's where I eat. that's where my only tv is. and my table is a scrap table.

I can't use the bed as a table tho - my dog would get the food before I did!

I was rather hoping that when I move and my table is in the kitchen and no longer a scrap table that I would use it... ok, maybe not so much - it's only feet away from the 'tv room' (to be) so I will probably sit in there. the bed is on the other side of the house anyway.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 10:05PM
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