The best room in the house


What do you really love about your kitchen? From my unscientific survey of some friends and family, I know that people have some very strong opinions about this room.

Your kitchen is, as they say, the heart of your home. It’s often the first place you head for when you wake up in the morning. It’s there waiting for you whether you’re feeling cheerful or tired or fed up or excited about greeting the day. It’s where you might make cookies for grandchildren or rustle up a big pot of soup on a cold day.

It’s usually the place where you have that first comfort of the morning: coffee.

And so it wasn’t surprising to me that my unscientific survey revealed the best part of a kitchen is a place to make coffee. My interviewees said they were in love with café-espresso machines. One of them has four of them (which, to tell you the truth, I thought was overdoing things a little). My brother-in-law is so enamoured with a particular espresso machine (La Spaziale Vivaldi) that his whole kitchen is designed with the La Spaziale as the centrepiece.

A wine fridge came in second in my subjects’ opinion. They talked about a variety of sizes with features such as triple zones to keep your reds, whites and other beverages at optimum temperatures. Of course, the aesthetics have to be just so in order to make an appealing display. I told them about a Dacor wine dispenser from Universal Appliances in Ottawa, which my company has used for several clients. It keeps each of four open bottles at the correct temperature and fresh for up to 60 days.

My survey participants told me people also like a lifter for heavy appliances, touch faucets, sparkling water dispensers, great storage and soft-close hardware on cabinets (“Important when you want to have a nap,” one of them told me.)

They offered more opinions. They liked walk-in pantries with deep shelves and deeper drawers. Lighting under cabinets and counters. Good organization. Room to move.

They liked lots of natural light: big windows where you could love the outdoors but be warm or cool indoors…windows where you could look out to see children playing, or birds chattering; clouds gathering, the lights of the city, or the changing seasons.

They liked good appliances (not just espresso machines). They liked optimal finishes for longevity but also for simple, quick cleaning.

They all talked about great sinks that are beautiful as well as functional, where you can wash a big pot or scrub potatoes with equal ease.

They also liked tough, durable, and stylish counters. Some liked quartz. Some liked granite. Some liked butcher block. They were looking for clean, strong, long-lasting work surfaces able to weather just about anything.

They said open spaces, entertaining areas and generous islands were important in a kitchen. They said it should be a place where kids and adults can be messy together, where everyone can talk and laugh and be themselves.

That reminded me of my own family. I grew up with seven siblings, and when we were younger we’d spend our days going from school to sports practices to friends’ houses (bless my mom – she was a busy woman!) It was at the end of the day when we all came together to our table in the kitchen to sit with each other and spend some time with the family.

Those were some of the best memories I have. I still dream of a dessert my mom made up one year that she called “Taste of Summer”. After every slice, my uncle Mike and I kept telling mom “we didn’t taste summer yet!”, insisting we needed another piece to keep trying to taste summer.

I guess it’s why I think the kitchen is the best part of any house, or should be.

My survey participants agree.

John Manzo is the owner of Tego Design and Installation Centre, which specializes in kitchens and bathrooms.

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