The perfect kitchen is the one you like

The perfect kitchen is the one you like

One of the things we love to do at my house is look at houses for sale online in distant cities, the more unaffordable, the better. What does $15 million get you in Colorado? How tiny are $8 million apartments in Manhattan? And who is it that can afford an $18,000 mortgage payment?

Of course, we like to poke fun at the questionable taste of others, especially others with lots of spare cash. It seems like the homes of the very well off can be just as tacky as the double wide next to the abandoned farmhouse.

It’s the kitchens we’re after, anyway. I never tire of seeing other people’s kitchens. You can spot those designed for people who never cook: they’re oddly arranged, or far too pristine, or the elegant cabinetry and marble counters are butted up against a $600 electric range.

Landing on a likely house to check out, we skip to the kitchen pictures and usually shout, “Whoa! No thanks. What the heck were they thinking?” It’s not necessarily that they’re small; you can make a small kitchen work pretty well.

I’ve lived with kitchens in which you literally had to move the stove a foot to the right to get a drawer open fully. Rather, it’s they’re impractical or silly. Even kitchens that haven’t seen an update since the Eisenhower years can be really great, so it’s not mere age that rules them out.

You also can spot the kitchens of serious cooks. The range hood is just that, with no shared microwave duty and big enough to suck all the air out of the house and you with it.

There is usually a pot filling faucet over the cooktop and plenty of storage and counter space. If there are glass fronted cabinets, they’re limited to one section rather than the whole room. There are certainly no open shelves. Open shelves with pretty display pieces take up space better reserved for actual stacks of plates or something.

I’m surprised at how few kitchens actually get things right, but of course this is a room that very much reflects the preferences and taste of the owner, so it’s no mystery why they didn’t build their kitchen to make me happy.

That may be the big difficulty in selling homes, to judge by the rate at which house-hunting couples immediately start talking about the need to change everything about a kitchen they’re seeing for the first time. If kitchens are very personal spaces made to meet the requirements of one or two people, it’s going to get changed as often as the house sells.

The preserved 1950s kitchens you occasionally see turn up were likely installed at that time by a young couple who never moved again until they passed on.

All this means that one day, no matter how much you love your kitchen and even if you have all the most up to the minute appliances, one day it will be greeted with absolute horror by another group of people who can’t wait to take a sledgehammer to the whole business.

We might be amazed by a refrigerator that boasts a computer tablet in the door and a freezer that makes perfectly clear, round ice cubes, but in a few years, it’s going to look as dated as an eight track tape deck.

The perfect kitchen is the one you like and that suits the way you cook, whether that means opening the occasional jar of marinara or roasting a whole pork crown every week. Changing out your dream kitchen for some other style is something for future folks to worry about. Meanwhile, your choices make for great entertainment.

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