Is there a moment in your life when you remember feeling the most inspired? I mean totally, consumingly, light-your-soul-on-fire inspired?
With the New Jersey fall approaching and my kitchen beckoning me more strongly than ever, there’s one particular memory that keeps coming to mind for me…
A Surprising Find in the South of France
Near or far, I’m a big advocate of traveling to find inspiration — design or otherwise — and a few years ago, I was lucky enough to vacation with some friends in the south of France.
The French countryside is gorgeous and inspiring, but the real eye-opener came in Châteauneuf de Grasse, a village that sits between the Italian Alps and the French Riviera.
Sounds dreamy, right?
Surprisingly, the location wasn’t our main reason for picking the spot. The village actually plays host to the former vacation home of...
In case you’re rusty on Julia’s backstory, she’s credited with bringing French cooking to America.
She is most well-known for her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and her 1970s hit TV show, The French Chef. (The more recent movie Julie & Julia is also based on her life and a fun watch if you’re in the mood!)
Needless to say, when I found out Julia and her husband had once owned this vacation home in southern France, I couldn’t resist the chance to cook in her kitchen!
I signed up with La Pitchoune, a cooking school run by the new owners of the home. They really made an effort to keep the kitchen exactly how Julia had it, and I couldn’t have been more appreciative.
It’s difficult to describe in words, but I really felt the presence of Julia in her kitchen design. It didn't look fancy. It didn’t feel staged. It was all Julia.
She had designed it to her own needs and style, and the effect was that it reflected the very essence of who she was. Eccentric. Courageous. A lady who got right down to business when she cooked.
The kitchen’s simple and unique beauty reminded me how easily we can get carried away by today’s media… HGTV reno shows, designs on Instagram, the latest Home & Garden edition we spy in the grocery line.
All of these things are beautiful, trending, and well-designed, and we start to think we need those things, too. And maybe we do. But we forget the one thing Julia understood so well...
The most important part of our home’s design is us.
While it isn’t a bad idea to use TV shows and social media to find good design, I would challenge you to use Julia as inspiration and take your self-discovery a step further.
Images of a beautiful and airy kitchen might fill you with peace and relaxation, BUT is peace and relaxation what you want for your kitchen? Or would you rather feel relaxed in your bedroom and keep the kitchen social and creative instead?
Decide what you really want and NEED from your kitchen.
Prioritize how you want to use and feel in the space. To help you discover the answer for yourself, here are 7 questions for you to consider.
7 Functional Questions to Ask Yourself When Designing a Kitchen
Which items do you use most often? Cutlery? Pots and pans? Cutting boards? Appliances?
How can you make high-use items most accessible? Would you prefer to have them out in the open, integrated into the design, or tucked into a cabinet or drawer?
How do your kitchen’s guests impact the way you use the space? Do you have little ones with curious hands? Pets who run around your feet? Do you spend weekends entertaining friends or family?
How do you want to feel in your kitchen? Inspired? Creative? Relaxed? Energetic? What colors and unique personal touches will help you feel this way? (It’s different for everyone!)
What is the most comfortable height for your prep space? The best height for proper posture is when your elbows are at a right angle, but you get to decide what’s most comfortable for you.
What areas of your kitchen need to be bright or could use task lighting? For example, will standing in front of your stove cast a shadow on the hot pans you’re using? (It’s much easier to burn yourself this way! See my previous post on selecting lighting.)
What are your airflow needs? If your kitchen is part of an open concept floor plan, how can ventilation placement keep your whole home from smelling like dinner?
A few decades ago, kitchens weren’t the focal point of homes, but nowadays, they are often a design centerpiece and the heart of family time.
This is why it’s important to make your kitchen as unique, functional, and personal as possible. There’s nothing more gratifying than feeling that your space isn’t for television, a magazine, or a great photo — but 100% yours.
Julia Child’s kitchen drove this point home for me, and I hope I’m able to do the same for you. ❤
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