There is a bit of a "living circuit" in our home... a circle formed, from the time you walk in the front door, that encompasses the entry hall, the family room, the kitchen, the dining room, and the study. When we have people over, they fill all of these areas, including the spillover to outside on the decks that are off both the kitchen and the family room.

The kitchen is definitely the "social center" of our home. In it, I prepare our meals from healthy, whole foods. I do home baking from freshly milled whole grains... I make healthy chicken and vegetable stocks by boiling the carcasses for at least 24 hours... we drink fermented beverages that we prepare ourselves in our home (kefir, kombucha, homemade yogurt, etc.)... we grow many of our own organic vegetables in our garden...

Our kitchen is always filled with a variety of delicious aromas, mostly driven by what's been baking or cooking on a given day.  On this day that I filmed my kitchen for the research survey, there was a chicken stock beginning to boil on the stove. During the filming, the scent of the rich broth began to prick at my nose, as the rolling boil began in earnest. There was the faint hint of banana cake in the air, and the suggestion of tomato and spices from the bruschetta we had eaten earlier.

A friend of mine once said, "I love to eat whatever Laurie sets out on this corner, because it is always good. Whatever is there, I eat it..." The "that corner" of which he spoke is the corner of the center island that is right there when you walk into the kitchen from the hallway or the family room. That ledge is always filled with whatever foods I'm serving, whether a full meal buffet-style, a wide array of appetizers and snacks, or a fun spread of homemade dessert with coffee and tea at the coffee bar.

My counter tops are granite, cold to the touch, but they sport a warm mix of tans and browns and greys that are pleasing and inviting to the eye. There is plenty of room to stand around the outer edges of the island, and people usually congregate there. This leaves me free to navigate through the "galley" that contains the stove and sink, and to continue to prepare and serve food as we visit. I have chosen to fill my kitchen with lots of wrought iron, wood, and stoneware. The overall effect is one of a European winery or bakery, with all the commensurate spice-y smells, and earthy pottery, and vintage cookware.

I ended by including a poem I'd once written, which captures pretty well some dimensions of how I feel about my kitchen, and about provincial decor in general.

I have another friend who is an interior designer at heart--probably since long before she studied it in college many years ago--and she's been after me--since she met me--to paint my wooden cabinets white.  I know she is much more knowledgeable than I about the style and fashion and trendiness of it all, but it has been easy to roundly refuse this suggestion.  Why?  Because I love wood... wooden bowls, wooden utensils, wooden furniture.  My kitchen is filled with it, and I love the warmth and homey-ness it adds.  So the rich brown of the wooden cabinets is a real pleasure to me.

I think Jane Austen must have been thinking in some measure of the kitchen when she said, "Ah!  There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort"  (Emma, Chapter 32, 1815).