I find myself wanting to shout at the television these days. Not at the news shows — they do their own shouting — but at the home and garden shows.
These open concept kitchen floor plans are a huge mistake. You see the homeowner running about chattering how wonderful it will be to have friends and family in her new open kitchen while she prepares a meal. What you don’t see is the homeowner running about looking for bandages because she sliced her thumb along with the carrots because friends and family are gathered in the kitchen while she prepares a meal.
Surely, I’m not the only one who can’t talk and cook at the same time. I listen to someone tell a riveting story, lose focus and overdo the paprika. By a half a cup.
I try to be a polite listener, making occasional eye contact while I cook, and shave two knuckles in the cheese grater.
Thankfully, we only have a semi-open kitchen. There are two doors to the kitchen, one of which can be closed completely. The other is a large open doorway, but I can barricade it with a piano bench and two chairs if the need arises.
Since it’s only a matter of time before I injure myself with a carving knife or zester, I’ve dictated that anybody who isn’t actively involved in food prep must stay on the other side of the peninsula. Nobody gets in my Bermuda Triangle (the triangle of workspace between the fridge, stove and sink).
To those of you considering knocking down a wall to open up a kitchen that has been separate from the rest of the house, think twice about the benefits of working in seclusion:
When you have a kitchen that is somewhat set off from the rest of the house, the rest of the house doesn’t smell like garlic. Or stir-fry.
When you have a kitchen set off from the rest of the house, you can still sweetly say to your spouse, “May I have a word with you in the kitchen?” When your kitchen is a major gathering space you have to say, “May I have a word with you in the garage?” Trust me, this raises eyebrows.
When you have privacy in the kitchen, you can lick the spatula, test taste all you want and let the dirty dishes tower in the sink.
When you have privacy in the kitchen, you don’t have to dive below a counter or into a cabinet so the kids don’t see you popping a cookie or a cracker into your mouth.
You can even pretend to knock your head against the counter to relieve frustration and no one will call a family meeting because no one will see you do it.
One final word for those of you still uncertain of the value of a semi-closed kitchen: Your own stash of chocolate.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.