Kitchen Clarity Adventures in Kitchen and Bath Design

The Cook’s Chair

12.06.2009 · Posted in Kitchens

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.

Large kitchen with armchair

Large kitchen with armchair

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?

via thekitchendirectory

via The Kitchen Directory

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

Plain English via kitchen directory

Plain English via The Kitchen Directory

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.

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4 Responses to “The Cook’s Chair”

  1. Rachele – that sounds like absolute bliss. What a luxury. Something to look forward to when the nest is empty, perhaps?

  2. Hi Paul – you’re so kind, thank you. I never realized how much I like that traditional English style until I started this blog – funny what you learn through writing!

  3. One of my friends designed a kitchen which included armchairs. The island was large, but she balanced the room by including TWO armchairs with a hefty floor lamp in between them. The homeowners started each morning by making their coffee and sitting in the armchairs reading the paper, sharing headlines and stories.

  4. I just want to tell you that your blog has given me a whole new appreciation for a traditional, English kitchen. Thank you.