Something I always think of as an absolute luxury is space for big, comfortable armchair right in the kitchen. I don’t mean a great room, or combined kitchen/family room, where of course you can fit a nice seating area as part of the design – I mean a comfy chair right in the heart of the action. What’s surprised me is how hard it has been to find pictures of kitchens with chairs like this – it seems that it’s a feature that just doesn’t easily fit into kitchens today.
In fact I’m only really seeing the kind of armchair I had in mind in large, rather informal, English style kitchens. The one above, via Fresh Locations, I could swear is the same chair and chintz that my grandmother had (although no Aga for her – she was very proud to have been the first person in Bristol to cook with electricity.)
The next picture gives me a clue as to why we don’t see these chairs so often anymore – quite apart from the amount of space needed, the relationship in scale between the chair and the island just isn’t nearly as harmonious as that between the chair and a table, is it?
Although here, in this example from Plain English, the taller wing-back chair and the lighter, more table-like island work out much better: (via TheKitchenDirectory.co.uk)
I guess my nostalgia is showing here – the chairs I have found are in kitchens with Agas, always the warmest room in a pre-central heating house, so the obvious place to hang out and read a book if you could. And while for me, hanging out all day in the kitchen is only possible as a weekend treat, it was more or less inescapable for most wives and mothers up until the mid-twentieth century, and really not a treat at all, I’m sure. The armchair, if you were fortunate enough to have space for one, must have been a very welcome relief.