One look at Mrs John W Murphey’s Tucson, Arizona, kitchen from 1965, and you don’t need to be told she is an aficionado of the Mexican colonial style.
Hers is by no means a traditional Mexican-inspired kitchen, but it shimmered with a familiar Mexican decorative material — embossed tin — put to highly inventive use. (To antique collectors, the tin-faced cabinets may recall the Early American pie safes.)
With the tin, the Murpheys’ architect, Juan Worner-Baz, combined ornate Mexican floor tiles that established the color scheme for the whole room.
The floor of white, pink, yellow and brown has the richness of a lovely rug and gives substance to the bright lights of the tin, the stainless steel doors of major appliances, the white walls and woodwork, the pale pink marbleized laminate countertops, and the treasures from the Murpheys’ silver collection that are displayed in several places about the room.
Yet for all its resplendence, this is a serious working kitchen, designed to accommodate more than one cook, and generously endowed with equipment, storage space and working surface, together with an easy traffic pattern.
The big central work island, above right, contributes enormously to the kitchen’s workability with its drawers and shelves on both sides, its elevated spice and staple shelves (the spices themselves echo some of the rich earth colors of the tile floor) and outlets for appliances at boils ends.
Along the wall under the window, there are long stretches of counter space on both sides of the double sink and dishwasher.
Around the corner to the right is a six-burner cooking top and pair of ovens, and at the opposite end of the room, right, an alcove with table and banquette for seated work.
Against the wall facing the sink stands a double-door refrigerator-freezer, opposite page, and along a passage to its left, a long row of storage closets.
A kitchen with so much pattern and gleam on every side scarcely needs a decorative accent, yet Mrs Murphey does not hide all her possessions behind closed doors.
The collection of tea canisters above the spice shelf, the silver display in the alcove, and the dishes arrayed on open shelves all make the difference between a decorative tour de force and a warm, livable room.
Vintage 1960s kitchen with soft shimmer of embossed tin decor