14 retro ways to make your kitchen more cozy and inviting

1981 kitchen more sociable

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How to make any kitchen more warm & sociable: Home tips from 1981

To make any kitchen as people-oriented as it is practical, start by rethinking it as a room, not just a place to work. Guidelines follow:

1. Don’t feel locked into typical kitchen colors, wallpaper, cabinets. Choose a color scheme you like, treat cabinets as furniture, and use accessories that give a sense of style to the room. (See here how people even used to wallpaper their ceilings.)

2. Open up other areas to the kitchen by knocking out existing walls, installing interior windows, or adding a connecting room.

3. Enlarge work surfaces and passages around them so several family members can easily cook at once — the place to learn the pleasures of the palate and the joy of cooking is at the elbow of someone more practiced.

Remodeled kitchen with low bar table from 1980

4. By all means, eat in the kitchen. People are naturally drawn to the room from which all the good smells and tastes emanate. There’s nothing so satisfying as tasting something fresh out of the oven or stewpot.

5. Bring in un-kitchen furniture — antique or modern tables, chairs, armoires, even upholstered pieces — things that add warmth and depth and invite people to stay and to visit awhile.

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6. Install a wood-burning stove or fireplace and surround it with rockers. Think of how a glowing hearth attracts people on a cold, wintry afternoon. Come summer, use it as a plant oasis.

Open kitchen with lots of room for people

7. To make midweek dinners more than an eat-and-run affair, select a kitchen dining table big enough to sit around as long as you want. And choose chairs that are as comfortable as they are good looking. Make use of fabrics (for a window seat or tie-on chair cushions, for example) to counteract the hard-edged look of laminates and wood surfaces elsewhere. Washable cottons are a good bet; use a spray-on soil repellent for extra protection.

9. Warm up kitchen lighting by using warm white daylight fluorescents, or by installing incandescent fixtures; use a dimmer to tone down work light when entertaining. Both food and people will benefit from the softening cosmetic effects.

10. Incorporate extra workplaces into a kitchen plan as space permits — for homework, crafts, messy projects that are best done on easy-to-maintain surfaces and require extra sprawl space. All benefit from company for encouragement and help.

kitchen remodel for entertaining

11. Make plans for open shelving or glass-fronted cabinetry that will face out into the non-service part of the room. Use it to display a collection or to house dishes that add color, texture to the room.

12. Consider the benefits of an island if you are remodeling: Not only does it provide more work surface, but it also serves as a neighborly “fence” for someone who wants to visit with the cook without interrupting the work in progress.

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13. Build in a banquette to give more personality to a tiny kitchen where a freestanding table would be impossible. Make cushions extra plump, but be sure to leave enough clearance between seat and table height for ease of movement.

14. Provide play space for children, so they’re not underfoot. Pets and their food dishes also need to be taken into consideration.

12 retro ways to make your kitchen more cozy and inviting


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