When, in 1978, Jona Lewie sung that you’d always find him in the kitchen at parties he was singing of a desire to escape the true venue of the party as well as most of the guests at it. The socially awkward and just plain shy, after all, could at that time retreat to the kitchen for some peace and quiet and time alone. It’s fair to say, however, that times have changed.
Today, the idea that a kitchen is the heart of a home has never been more accurate. Kitchens are increasingly becoming the key social hub of our homes and having a well-equipped kitchen has never been more desirable. Research last year from Gocompare.com helps to quantify this, too, by revealing that the fitting of a new kitchen has been the UK’s top home improvement project of the past five years.
How then, has such a seismic change in our attitudes toward the kitchen’s place in our homes occurred in such a comparatively short amount of time?
The Staid Seventies
Almost across the board in the 1970s, kitchens were viewed as functional spaces devoted entirely to food preparation. Whether delivering a family meal or hosting a dinner party, the cook in any given household would get the food ready behind closed doors – often literally – in the kitchen and then serve it up on a table in the dining room.
With that being the generally accepted pattern of socialising, therefore, kitchens were very much a room where utility was key and which guests were dissuaded from seeing. It’s little surprise, then, that at this time the kitchen was not viewed as a particularly crucial part of the home.
The Open Plan Eighties
Once the 1980’s rolled around, there was something of a revolution in interior design with the popularisation of the idea of ‘open plan’ homes. Within open plan homes, rooms would no longer be shut away and kept separate and living space thus flowed better and seemed larger. This, then, had a profound effect on both the design of and attitude toward kitchens.
Kitchens were now very much part of the entertaining space of a home and elements such as breakfast bars and kitchen diners quickly grew in popularity to reflect this. Cooking, too, was beginning to become more popular as a social activity or hobby and thus kitchens were a place for fun and socialising and not just food preparation.
Manic Modern Day Life
The trend for more open plan living spaces and the popularity of cooking continued well beyond the eighties, and continue to be prevalent today. What’s more, however, the nature and pace of modern life is now an even more fundamental factor in the enhanced importance of the kitchen as the heart of the home.
The idea of a family sitting down to a meal at a dining room table each night, for instance, is one which will be alien to many modern households. Instead, many busy families might see its members only cross one another’s paths when using the kitchen. Beyond that, too, the kitchen is now not only a part of the entertaining space of many homes but is in fact the singularly most important part.
A place where many people practice one of their most favoured hobbies, are most likely to see their loved ones and where they entertain their friends, therefore, the kitchen is unquestionably best described as the heart of the modern home.