PAUL BENTON
Originally published in the La Jolla Light, MARCH 27, 2020

The new events surrounding the COVID19 known as the Corona virus pandemic have led us to shelter in place. This is of great interest to me, as both “shelter” and “place” are two of my most favorite words.

Although we might not be spending all of our time at home, this is a good time to look around and see what makes home special.

Let’s focus on three principal spaces that make up the “heart of the home”: the kitchen, living room/dining room/family room, and entry and garden

Grand Central Kitchen

The kitchen is not just about food – there is a lot that happens in this space, and there are a lot of different events at different times of the day. It is the place for everyone to meet, as many daily tasks and goodbyes and greetings occur in the kitchen. Typically, the news of the day is shared there first.

A kitchen at a rare quiet time: ready for another busy day.

Now take a closer look: is there a safe place for everyone in the kitchen, preferably seated or perched? My favorite was perched on the counter, next to the water dispenser.

After a meal, is there enough space for a project or homework where everything can be spread out in one place? Sometimes the kitchen spills out into the nearby family room or living room, and that is okay.

The kitchen should have a window or a balcony to look outside, preferably over a garden. A kitchen should connect to all living spaces and be its own central space.

But, when the food is brought to the fore, everything can be focused on that. The triangle of storage/preparation/cooking comes to life, as the parts of the meal come together. The bowls and knives and tools should be within easy reach and easy to clean. The working surface should be at least 4 feet wide per person, and the bigger the better.

With visitors and guests, food preparation and cooking are a daily ritual that invites participation and friendship and makes it possible to find out a bit more about each other. Give yourself the space to do it well.

Visit Alcorn & Benton Architects.