Californians take to 'farmhouse' kitchens

By , Staff correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Californians are now calling these warm, wooded, and rustic eat-in, live-in spaces "farmhouse" kitchens. They are going into condominums and apartments, as well as into large, expensive houses. They have been developed to suit a new life style of working couples who enjoy cooking together in their informal kitchens and often entertaining and dining there, as well.

A rather elegant 10-by-20-foot "farmhouse" kitchen in a 75-year-old gray shingle house in Berkeley was a recent remodeling job handleby Abrams/Millikan & Kent of that city. The firm planned the kitchen for a couple who do lots of large-scale entertaining, and both of whom are gourmet cooks.

The couple chose redwood for the walls, ceilings, and in the cabinets, in keeping with the original redwood interiors in the rest of the house. To make the wood more durable for kitchen use, exposed cabinets were given multiple coats of polyurethann-type varnish.

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They chose end-grain cherry wood for countertops and wide maple boards for the newly laid wood floors. They asked that the windows also open the kitchen to the redwood deck terrace, so that food and equipment could be easily transferred outside for summer al fresco dining. The kitchen is open to a dining area on one end and leads into a pantry storage wall on the other.

This California couple felt their farmhouse kitchen should include a large restaurant-type commercial range, with six burners and two griddles, where they could do most of their cooking.They also asked for a commercial hood, with blowers on the roof, to suck out all smoke and cooking odors. They wanted two stainless steel sinks and, to make cleanup after parties easier, two dimmers on all the lighting, so that cooking areas could be kept bright and the dining area could have simulated candlelight. A large hutch in the dining area displays favorite dishes and procelain, while the array of copper pots is arranged around and over the big stove.

The architects say that many of the farmhouse kitchens they are installing also feature small wood stoves and small sofas or love seats for conversation or lounging while meals are in preparation.

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