The Family Kitchen

 

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I took a long time coming up with this simple title; I tossed all sorts of things around, French Country Kitchen, Farmhouse Kitchen, but none seemed to fit the bill. You see, although we live in an old farmhouse, I don’t consider our’s a true farmhouse kitchen like the type I grew up in; in fact our kitchen doesn’t resemble anything from my childhood at all. I toyed with the idea of a French Country Kitchen, as we are after all in France and living in the country, but still I wasn’t convinced. So finally I settled on a compromise; The Family Kitchen. For this is exactly what our kitchen is.

When creating our kitchen, we had a completely blank canvas, an empty room with nothing but an ancient bread oven, some black painted beams and a red ceiling! There was no plumbing in situ and it had never been used as a kitchen, we spent days and weeks planning, thinking, pondering just what to do. It had to have a great indoor/outdoor flow and it had to be cosy in the winter and almost an extension of the garden in the summer.

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Let’s go back 100 years and more, when the kitchen was a place solely used for events and rituals concerning food. Kitchen fixtures were simple and utilitarian, and by far the most important article of furniture was a large table for culinary preparation. The most important piece of equipment however was the range, which was traditionally used for both cooking and heating water. Times have changed of course, and while at the heart of every home nowadays you’ll still find a kitchen, it’s altered a great deal, having become a multi-functional room serving a great many needs.

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p4940853It’s no longer a place just for cooking, but a place where we spend much of our time at home. Our’s is a true family kitchen, a place where we share meals, whether they’re an elaborate affair with guests or a simple sandwich at lunchtime.

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It’s also a room enjoyed by the dogs and sometimes a cat

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and always a lot of children! It’s where they do their homework

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and it’s a place where I love to sit with my laptop looking out at the garden beyond, watching a robin go about its daily business or seeing the chickens in the distance; it’s a place where I work and a place where I find great inspiration.

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When we bought the house this room that became our kitchen was the dining room. The original kitchen was small and pokey and became a library/Roddy’s study. We consciously chose not to have a separate dining room; perhaps it’s a growing European trend, but it means our kitchen is more of a room for all seasons, and all things, than ever before. It plays a huge role in our day-to-day lives, and it’s also the place where we entertain friends the most, so it is important that it is a welcoming environment; we have always felt it needs to be just a little stylish at times whilst remaining practical and fully functional.p4940897

It’s also where we gather after a long walk, it’s bitterly cold at the moment so don’t be fooled by the blue skies!

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But it feels good to be outside; yesterday we hiked for miles, with all the recent rain the winter corn is growing quickly, while the small vineyards owned by local farmers are dormant waiting to be pruned.

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Achieving exactly what we wanted with our kitchen might have been easy if we had an enormous room with plenty of space to spare. But we were limited to the existing bones of the house which were difficult to change. Working with a farmhouse built in 1780, the walls are over 2 feet thick, and there is no quick way to remove a wall. Of course, it’s possible – anything is possible – but not without a great amount of work and even vaster amounts of money. So many of these old houses were built in a time when architectural constraints used few tricks, and internal walls were part of the structure as they held entire buildings together.

So we had to plan within the existing spaces. The house is well positioned, with the sun streaming in through the east-facing windows making even the coldest of winter mornings light up with hope and possibility. We rarely use the west-facing sitting room until the evening and that’s when the sun has gone around to that side of the house, typically just in time for apéros with friends in the winter. At that time the sun is flooding in through west windows and the room is filled with light, it works well. We toyed with the idea of making the sitting-room the kitchen, as it’s a huge area which would have made a fabulous family space, but we really did want the kitchen to capture the morning sun. In fact it was a vital requisite.

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So, back to the confines of space. In an ideal world we would have loved an aga, a permanent source of heat in the winter, but it is too hot here in the summer and it would have meant a large range that sat unused for six months of the year, still we wanted a permanent heat source and that’s why we added the small wood burner. We would also have loved a big island unit, but that would have meant we had to forego a large table. Now, if we were a normal family with just a couple of children that would have been possible, of course. A small square table and a nice island – it would have been perfect, and all our wishes would have come true. But we have a large family, with five children, when Izzi is home from university there’s always a minimum of seven people eating in the kitchen. Even more when friends join us for lunch or dinner, we need to seat ten people plus with ease – so the kitchen table has taken centre stage in the middle of the room, and, going back to those times gone by,  it’s also become a key preparation space.

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There’s something undeniably charming about the rustic kitchens we see in magazines, but we wanted a room that was both comfortable with some country style, and also efficient with some contemporary units, complete with modern technology and self-closing drawers. However these needed to work in conjunction with the solid industrial style range cooker,  the existing original bread-oven, and a moveable freestanding unit with a marble worktop, a surface that is essential for rolling pastry and dough. I know our kitchen is a bit of a mixture, but it’s a little bit of everything thrown into the pot together like a rather good recipe; the different ingredients compliment one another and make the room perfect for us.

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We decided to forgo wall units in favour of open French oak shelving. Fortunately we do have a large pantry, perfect for store-cupboard food essentials and a place to keep all the extra kitchen items that we don’t use on a daily basis. France is full of specialist kitchen designers and shops, and we worked with a very helpful company in Rochefort; our simple kitchen units were made in Germany and took forever to be made, but that’s another story!

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p4950126Our goal was to create a warm, lived-in feel, reflecting the room’s multi-purpose role as a relaxed social space for eating as well as the place where we cook and prepare food.

With this in mind, we added several pieces of antique furniture to create our 21st-century take on a family kitchen.

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169 thoughts on “The Family Kitchen

  • I wished we were neighbors… I would definitely have you over to help my wife and I design our home. I think you have a great designers eye and fantastic taste. Thanks for sharing these pictures… definitely great inspiration for a future remodel.

    • Thanks so much, if I was closer I would certainly help, but I am certainly no professional, I just love messing around with interiors, sometimes much to the exasperation of my family who ask why I have changed things around, again!!! Hope you are having a lovely Sunday xx

  • You have created a very comfortable welcoming space to enjoy preparing food and dining with friends and family. A little bling in the chandelier is the perfect complement..I noticed you have an Alessi juicer, practical but with style. I had to have one too.

    • Thanks so much Susan, I love the Alessi juicer, but alas it was once really shiny and perfect, I made the mistake of putting it in the dishwasher once, but once was all it took, the shine completely disappeared, that was a couple of years ago or more, slowly it is returning but it will never be how it was meant to be! I learnt my lesson the hard way. But I do love it, as you say it is practical, it works a dream, but is also super stylish! xx

  • I really like the mixture of old and new. Our kitchen is a typical old British farmhouse kitchen, it does have a certain charm but I long for something cleaner and more modern, believe me living with a vintage kitchen might seem dreamlike but in reality it’s annoying, dirty and not to be envied !

    • My other always said exactly the same about our Farmhouse kitchen, it was the perfect room, the traditional black and white tiled floor, huge aga, far too many dogs, old oak cupboards, but she wanted something clean and modern so I really do understand where you are coming from! have a great Sunday and hope it’s not too cold in England. xx

  • I would have done just the same as you, I cannot stand the flaking paint and rusty metal shabby chic look, it might look pretty in magazines but I would hate to live with a kitchen like that.

    • It does look very pretty in magazine Lisa I agree, but I cannot look at rusty pieces of metal without thinking of my Father always having to deal with rust on the farm, rust caused so many problems in gates and hinges and farm implements that I am afraid I see it as a problem rather than something to be admired. Have a lovely Sunday xx

  • Your kitchen is beautiful and it is nice to make it functional for your family. We did crafts and painting on our kitchen table. Paint and cuts are permanently on the table to remind us of those days.

    • Thanks so much Janet, it’s a great space because if I sit at one end of the table I can pretend I am in a dining room with antique furniture and if I sit at the other I am in the kitchen at a kitchen table! It works well enough for us! Have a lovely Sunday xx

  • I love how you have set up the combined kitchen-dining space. We need to re-do our kitchen and this is a great blueprint. I am inspired by your dual use of the table as eating and preparation space – an obvious solution to how to fit everything into a small space.

  • It would be a dream come true to have a kitchen like yours, a real space to work and cook and then the perfect place to eat all together. This was a pure treat to read on a Sunday morning.

  • Beautiful home and landscape, it’s always nice to see your photos. Here in Finland modern trend is that kitchen and living room are one big room, so in new buildings there are not seperate dining rooms. I don’t know how it is in other European countries. Your kitchen is very cozy.

    • Thanks so much Taia, in modern homes here too the kitchen and sitting room are all in one, and in the UK too. I like that way of living but we couldn’t move the old stone walls so we had to work with the rooms we had. Hope you are having a lovely weekend, I am sure you have lots of snow which makes me very envious! xx

  • Love this post!! Such a treat to see the Family Kitchen’s details!! So many wonderful elements but my favorites are the beautiful captured morning sun and the airiness in warm weather and coziness in cold that you have captured.

    • Thank you so much, it was one of our main goals to have a kitchen that worked equally well in all seasons. In the summer the doors and windows are permanently open and in the winter the fire is permanently alight, it works well for us! Hope you are having a lovely Sunday xx

  • As I opened your post, the first piece of board parted from our kitchen wall to reveal rough plaster and sky blue paint underneath – our kitchen renovation has started. Like your family kitchen, it is a multi function room with similar thick walls and doorways we have to work around and not a single right angle or perpendicular wall in sight! At least it lends itself to being done a quarter at a time whilst we live and eat in the remaining three quarters.
    Your kitchen will be an inspiration during the weeks and months ahead.

    • Thanks so much Gill. I know exactly what you are going to be going through, we lived for two months with a beautifully painted kitchen but no units, we had a cooker, and we had two painters tables on either side as work surfaces and no sink, we had to carry everything through to the old kitchen across the hall. We did however have a dishwasher! The luxury of the kitchen when it finally arrived was incredible, I didn’t want to put anything on the counters, I just wanted to keep running my hands over them, I loved the uncluttered space! Like you, not a wall was straight, in fact one end of the room ends up about 20cm wider than the other, but it all adds to the character! Whereabouts are you? In France? Good luck and have fun!! Remember, it will all be over one day and worth every second! Xx

    • Thanks so much Monika, it was quite a challenge because it is not a large room and yet we had to accomplish quite a lot of things in a smallish space. But it works perfectly for us, it is warm and cosy in the winter and open and really an extension of the garden in the summer, just what we wanted. Hope it’s not too too cold with you and that you have had a lovely weekend xx

      • So glad, our cold weather never materialised this weekend, we were forecast to get snow, but it went away, instead it stayed mild with rain! But we are under a severe weather alert for freezing temperatures next week, it’s meant to get very very cold. We shall need the cosy warm fire more than ever!! Xx

    • Thank you so much Kris, it is fun to look at the kitchen and to talk about it because we created it and designed it ourselves, I look at it and remember what it was and think ‘we did this’ and that’s what makes it so special. Hope you are having a lovely Sunday xx

    • Thank you so much Holly, it’s one of the things that works so well in the kitchen, it is excellent in both the winter when it is cosy and snug and in the summer when we can open the French doors and let it become a part of the garden beyond and the light in the morning is wonderful on a sunny winter’s day it can feel positively warm just from the sun alone. It certainly lifts the spirits. Xx

  • Love the kitchen. Great taste and you have achieved both comfy cozy and chic design. One question: while I’ve always loved the open selves and pots pans, utensils etc hanging in easy reach, how on earth do they not get covered in invisible grease which causes dust to settle on as well? I have just the utensils out and so often I have to wash something before I can really use it. Just the heat from the kitchen and the cooking oil/butter wafting in the air causes the problem. (I also have a ceiling fan and that is another headache). So I gave up on open shelving and hanging pots when I redid my current kitchen.

    • Thanks so much Jacqueline. I was a little concerned about the same thing when we opted for open shelves. But we have never had a problem, I wipe them down as a matter of routine, but they never get greasy at all, just a little dusty. We do have a very good extractor fan above the cooker, but I truly by have never had a problem. I often wonder the same when I see people hang pans and cooking utensils above the cooker itself, now that I truly cannot understand because they simply have to get covered in grease. We cook every meal from scratch every day, so there is a lot of cooking in the kitchen but no problems. Admittedly we scarcely ever fry anything, mostly the range top is used for boiling and steaming vegetables, although this morning I made pancakes for the children, a Sunday morning treat!! I am not sure if this is a helpful answer or not! Probably not!! I was concerned about dust with the open shelves, I thought it would be a nightmare, we thought we would give it a go and we could always change and order wall cupboards if it was unbearable, so I was really happily surprised! Xx

  • A wonderful kitchen. I love it when this is the room that everyone gravitates towards and where te whole family ‘lives’ for most of the time. You seem to have created a very special space.

    • Thanks Margaret, this is definitely the main room during the day, in the evening the sitting room is the place to be where we have a huge fire, but it’s a slightly more formal room and we never really use it during the day, I guess that’s an English thing too! Hope you are having a lovely Sunday xx

    • Thanks so much Penny, it is indeed just that a working kitchen where everyone is welcome, friends wander in and out, dogs wander in and out, vegetables come in covered in mud from the vegetable garden to be washed, it’s a place where it all happens, if the walls had ears, this room could tell a great many secrets! It’s where the most important discussions take place, always! Xx

    • Oh so do I Ali, I really feel we connected, not sure I like that word, at all, but I couldn’t think of a better one! One can hardly say best friends after a couple of days, so connected it will have to be, oh well, thank goodness for the Internet!!! Xx

  • Love your posts. They are like letters from a dear friend. I too recently remodeled an old farm house kitchen. The kitchen is truly the heart of the home. My family now loves to gather in the kitchen as yours does. Many wonderful memories are made here along with good food. I do wish I had that bread oven I see in your photos. Do you use it?

    • Thank you so much Brenda, it’s rather fun remodelling these old kitchens isn’t it? A headache at the time but well worth the effort. The biggest problem we had was we actually were living here whilst it was all going on, as the kitchen was so delayed and so we lived with two painters tables as work tops and no sink, I can look back on it now and just laugh and I think it made me appreciate the kitchen even more! The bread oven had been blocked up, but the next job on the agenda now is to open it up and get it working, because it will be just fantastic! Xx

  • You and Roddy do have wonderful taste. I love the warm dark wood of your antique dresser and long table contrasted with the clean white cabinets and the dark metallic stove. But what makes this the perfect kitchen, as you know so well, is the presence of your charming children, their well-loved toys and accoutrements, the sight and smells of good fresh food in preparation, and your sweet dogs underfoot. The whole is an inspiration, and it seems to me would make a special kind of coffee table book with your delicious recipes interspersed.

    • Thank you so much Ellen, we too love the clean modern lines mixed with the antiques, it’s a match that we think works rather well. The kitchen usually does smell delicious, there is nearly always something being made or prepared, there are always also dogs getting in the way and children picking at things and generally making a great big mess, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, I love our slightly chaotic life!! Hope you are having a lovely Sunday xx

    • I’m afraid my ‘good taste’ is limited to pointing out the impossibilities, Ellen. Susan has a much better eye than me for style. The layout might have been a joint effort, but apart from dissuading her from knocking down a wall thick enough to hang the Gardens of Babylon on, there is little else I can claim as my own invention.

      I hasten to add that to make amends I did recently point out a wall elsewhere in the house which we COULD knock down – which will make an interesting project for the future and will no doubt provide a post or two! The rest of the kitchen is pretty much all her own. I would love to send her away to be a designer, she has a wonderful eye and great ideas and I can quite see her becoming successful if she had the time and wherewithal to do so. That way she might be able to keep me in my old age instead of sending me down to the vet, sigh.

    • Thanks so much Nancy, as you know only too well Roddy and I live in the kitchen and cook a vast amount and you also know it’s always very busy with lots of small bodies, both two and four legged taking up space. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Hope you get over here to enjoy it with us before too long. Xxx

  • Lovelty kitchen and perfect sentiments towards the idea of “kitchen”. I love you pictures over the doorway! Our kitchen is underway but only half is done. I am still at the “tops of dishwasher and washing machine making do as worktop” stage. I also want granite or stone for my pastry making, it’s essential for a kitchen. As for an island unit – I have one and love it, but we eat in the dining room which is just trhough the adjoining door.

    • I remember that stage only too well, for months we lived with just fold up painters tables as work tops! We had a dishwasher, but no sink, I cannot tell you how I loved the moment our kitchen was put in place! With your dining room right next door you have the best of both worlds, if the existing kitchen had been next to the dining room it would have been a good option, but the main entrance hall is in between the two and all three are on different levels just to make life a little more complicated! So it is what it is! Hope you have had a lovely weekend xx

    • I can highly recommend finding (but not buying) a cabinet, or a work structure that suits your purpose, and then wandering down to your brocante to find a piece of marble that you or your better half can simply fit on top. There are dozens of huge, traditional sideboards, plus coffee-tables, that are typically on sale complete with a marble top. The marble on our worksurface came off an old coffee table that cost just a few euros. It’s a highly recommended way to spend a couple of hours. 🙂

      • I can vouch for this, we made a small island unit in our guest house, or rather Roddy did and we bought an old coffee table which was quite ugly but we used the marble from it for the top of the island unit, it works so well and gets lots of compliments!

      • I’ve actualy got a beautiful piece of stone that has some scolloped edges that must have been an old fireplace mantle. I found it in the attic. I am looking forward to using that – but maybe a bathroom with a basin on top, all, as you quite rightly say, on an old brocante bottom. And it’s the Rouen Puces this weekend, so even more fun to be had looking for the bit of furniture! Have fun!

  • What’s not to love? I particularly love the open oak shelving, it looks so perfect with the modern white units but do you find it gets very dusty and do you really empty everything into those jars all the time? I’m intrigued as I’ve loved this look for a while but have always wondered about the practicality?

    • Hi Cindy, firstly thank you! In answer to your questions, I too was worried about dust and dirt, it was a look we loved but we were a little cautious and so we thought we could give it a go, we could always add wall units if we found the open shelving totally impractical, but we didn’t and we haven’t! I wipe them over, but I am quite amazed at how little dust collects on them, especially as we have the woodburner in the room too, we have been really pleased, I would never go back to wall cabinets again, this makes the room feel so much bigger. And yes, I do empty everything into the jars! It actually makes perfect sense as it means there are no half open bags and boxes in the cupboards and we know exactly what we have without having to look too hard! Xx

  • Great pics of a kitchen that serves many functions. Please tell me what the pan is with “legs” between the stand mixer and the cutting boards. I have always called it a spider unless there are holes for circulation. Thanks again for the peaks into your lives.

    • Do you know we truly don’t have a clue! It’s a thing that I picked up at our local brocante a few months ago, I paid, I think, 30 euros for it, because I loved it. It was filthy dirty and I asked the brocante owner what it would have been used for but he didn’t know either, his best suggestion was someone’s homemade pan that would have sat over the coals. It is a copper pan but with iron legs. I cleaned it up with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. It doesn’t have holes in the bottom so it is unlikely that it was a chestnut pan, we have one of those and it certainly has holes in the bottom! I just loved it and think it works rather well on the modern counter! Xx

    • Ha ha, definitely no peaks around here, far too flat!! But glad you enjoyed the peek into our lives! Auto correct spells all sorts of things differently for me, especially when my keyboard gets confused between French and English!! Xx

  • You’ve succeeded in creating a functional space that is beautiful and inviting, in addition to being practical for your needs. I LOVE your large stove …. something I’ll never have in my tiny kitchen … and the old prints over the door to the garden. It’s one of those touches of ‘old’ in a modern kitchen that really works.

    • Thanks Joanne, the large range cooker is fabulous to cook on, this freestanding type of cooker is called a Piano cooker in France! The two ovens and seperate grill are excellent. The black and white art is quite a favourite of mine, a couple are etchings of Notre Dame, bought by my Grandfather about 60 years ago, so I quite like the fact that they are French and have come home so to speak. I love mixing old and new, I always think it’s a good pairing. Hope you have had a lovely weekend xx

      • Comme je sais que vous aimez connaître le plus de choses possibles, je peux vous dire qu’ une cuisinière Piano est appelée ainsi car dans un restaurant les cuisiniers mettent un peu de farine au bord de la cuisinière pour prévenir que la casserole , le plat ou l’ assiette est chaude.Quand il y a beaucoup de plats en préparation la cuisinière ressemble à un Piano avec ses touches noires ( pas de farine= froid ) et blanches ( farine= chaud )! // As I very well know that you like knowing as much as possible, I can tell you that a Piano cooker ( Professionnal cooker! ) is called that because Cooks in a Restaurant put a pinch of flour at the edge of the cooker to warn that the pan, the dish or the plate is hot.So when there are a lot of dishes to be made, the Cooker looks like a Piano with its black keys ( no flour = cold ) and white keys ( flour = hot )! Thanks again for sharing your lovely pictures from your kitchen.

      • Thank you so much for this Philippe, I have told each of our children as I pick them up from school this story, I had absolutely no idea about this and yet I always wondered why they were called a Piano and now I know. Yes you are right, I love to learn new things, little snippets of trivia or serious information, everything is interesting and I always want to know more, especially about France. Stay warm this week avec la vague de froid. xx

  • I’ve inquired about AGAs both in Switzerland (where we had a tiny house from the 14th C on 4 floors – tiny tiny impractical and absolutely dearly beloved!) – I think we would have had a 2m thick wall removed just to get it into the house – so it was a no go idea. Here in France I enquired about service etc but it was no good so we bought a modern Bosch cooker. In Devon we had a custom-Made kitchen installed and had both open shelves AND cupboards with glass-doors. NEVER the slightest problem…. on the glass shelves I kept my (at the time) vast collection of unusual glass dishes, most of the antic. As we use EVERYTHING we have, be it brand new or very old (and a lot gets broken as my dear Hero Husband is very accident prone), so dust never had a chance to settle. In our ‘now’ house from 1920 we ‘inherited’ built-in wooden cupboards which climb on the one side of the kitchen the full height of 3.35m (some 11ft)….. needless to say that the ‘top half’ is totally empty!! The bottom bit however is in firm ‘mouth’ of some wood worms – at the beginning I treated the wood twice but I was so disgusted with how long the ‘stench’ of the product was hanging on and for how long I couldn’t use the cabinets that I decided LET THEM HAVE IT…. we will be dead a long time before they have managed to eat their way through all that wood. I just give the dishes (bowls I don’t use regularly, etc) a quick rinse before I use them and all is well. If one has the great luck to live in an old house, one has to be ready to react differently – to spiders, dust, little beasts, a certain amount of extra work – but the rewards are SO much bigger too – I honestly am happy to have my brilliant stove, a fantastic combined oven/micro wave (Siemens), a very silent dishwasher and a door to the veranda/garden…. I also have, same as you, a double sink and every surface is covered (sadly!!! – says the hoarder) with vases pots, bottles, herbs, stuff & very often a book too…. Can cook with a book next to my pans and pots – this woman is good at multi-tasking!
    The one thing I always wanted and can’t have here, is a chandelier/candelabra – I had one in my English Victorian house, in the bathroom no less – but even though I still have 2 smaller ones (in beautiful pinkish heavy glass and hand-wrought iron mount), they just are too small for our high rooms – I think yours should be perfect!!!
    What makes your kitchen so absolutely delightful, are, amongst other ‘items’, the dogs/kids/husband…. and I like that you too have your ready needed items in glass jars and that you too find a space for candles and flowers – BRAVO.

    • Hi Kiki, we use all of our good things too, old and new, of course the children break things, but we never put anything away anywhere in the house, even when they were tiny, they just learnt not to touch, in the same way they learnt to always make sure a glass is on a coaster and never on the bare wood, it just becomes a habit! We had a fabulous Aga in Devon and I grew up with one too, I do adore them, but here it would be turned off for six months of the year which would be a complete waste of space and money and we wouldn’t have the room for it and another cooker for the summer months. The small woodburner on the other hand fits the bill perfectly, I frequently melt butter on the top and it gently melts chocolate, keeps a mug of tea warm, not to mention how quickly it dries a pair of jeans or a wet jacket when placed in front, a multi tasking stove!! I remember that smell of woodworm treatment from my childhood, it’s horrid. One certainly has to live with these old houses, they are never perfect and if they were they wouldn’t be the same. I can tell you we have one window which leaks, no matter how many times we have had the builder in he cannot find out why when the rain is in a certain direction it fails! It doesn’t happen very often so we just live with it! As I said old houses have a way of keeping us on our toes! Oh and always space for candles and flowers, a vital part of any kitchen table for me! Xx

      • FYI: We had two houses, one window in each that would leak, and these were new builds! I discovered that the builders hadn’t caulked along the upper edge of the window, in each situation. So when the workers came to fix the second window in the second new build, I said “Check the top edge and see if it has been caulked properly!” Turned out there was a 1″ gap up there that only leaked when the rain drove in from the north. Good Luck with your window!

      • Thanks so much Ruth. We have had builders look at this one window endlessly, it is sealed seemingly to perfection, but when there is a driving rain from the west it leaks! Fortunately it doesn’t happen very often, so when I know we are going to get prolonged westerly rain I shut the shutter, problem solved! These are the trials and tribulations of living with very old houses, either that or we change the window completely! xx

      • Dear Susan, dear Ruth
        We too have two leaving windows in our living/dining room. From a total of 108 small square windows (with mostly still the original, slightly wavey glass available after the WWI) – and all still in their nearly 100yrs old wooden frames, thus forming 7 large picture windows, I think we are fortunate that only the two facing East-West and this taking a lot of strain when we have violent storms – but even though my one bro-in-law stayed a whole week with us to cement and re-mastic all the little frames on the outside, it didn’t make the slightest difference!!! I used to run after every storm and try to wash off the brownish Streiks going over my lovely wooden & carefully painted panels, now I sigh, grin and bear it…. I have now put old very decorative chairs in those window corners, so one doesn’t actually look at t any more – but apart from me nobody notices anyway. That’s a good thing – letting go what we can’t change! Right now we just wear a scarf or shawl to protect our necks and thus we keep warm and snugly! And so should you……

      • You see, we just have to live with these old houses! Actually, the window is good, the frame is excellent, the seals are good. No one can see where or why it leaks, it is at the bottom, it has the builder as baffled as we are, somehow the rain seems to pool underneath but it is quite impossible. But it only happens maybe two or three times a year, so we just shut the shutters when we know heavy rain is coming from that direction! This summer the builder will come back and try and work it out again, it’s of course upstairs and it’s high up, nothing is ever easy!!

  • I thought it was funny that you like your Alessi press. I used one at a friend’s place a few times and I always thought that this was one of the Willi est items I ever used – so big, so needy for a lot of space, but then I thought that of course, you have your own lemons and maybe press lots and lots of fruits for your big family. I just wouldn’t have the space to put it away, as I’m so small and can’t reach up high. I am truly happy that you love your spider 🙂

    • I love the Alessi press, I’m not actually sure why as I have known better much cheaper options, but I just rather like the shape, I like Alessi because it’s fun and we all need a little whimsy in our lives! Xx

      • I AM sorry should I have come across as bossy, just ré-read my former mail – I’m in NO position whatsoever to comment on peope’s taste – for YEARS I coveted an Alessi bird-kettle (the whistling one!) but always knew that I’d never have one as I already was more than happy with those kettles to shut themselves off when the water boiled. And also, as at that time I was living in Switzerland, too many people had Alessi stuff because it was ‘the things to have’ and I never went for that. I think, contrary to my family, but fully in line with my grandmother on my mother’s side, I was a ‘brocante junkie’ since my childhood and always rather had something with a history and a story to tell than something ‘just fancy’. But to come back to our present situation; I would still have to say I also coveted windows NOT leaking and not having those tremendous heating bills to pay….. Can’t have it all, never!

      • Never, and nothing to be sorry about! I agree with everything you say, I just love Alessi, not because it is a designer item, but because I just love the whimsical approach to so many things, they make me smile and if something I used nearly every day makes me smile then that’s good in my opinion!! But never fear, I can certainly assure you I never thought you in the slightest bit bossy. But don’t get me started on heating bills!!!! We can’t have it all, but nor should we, I’m quite happy just as we are! xxx

  • This is exactly what I’d like our kitchen to be (at our someday-house), not necessarily looking the same way, but being the center of the house/home and family. You did a wonderful job and I’m so happy you can enjoy the rewards as a family. Lovely photos as well.

    janet

    • Thanks so much Janet, one day your someday-house will have exactly the kitchen you want as the heart of your home. Ours is more often than not a little chaotic, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! Hope you have had a lovely weekend and that it’s not been too cold! Xx

      • Not too cold and we’re headed into Chicago for an NHL hockey game. Can’t wait!! We never go because it’s so expensive but these tickets were a gift, so we’ll just have fun.

      • oooh what fun, hope you have a fantastic evening, enjoy, I have never been to a hockey game, we don’t play it in England obviously, but I love watching it at the Olympics, actually I love all sport, I used to play a lot of field hockey at school.

  • Your kitchen is a delightful space Susan. I love the chandelier, giving a formal touch to such a warm, family space. Kitchens are the hardest rooms in the house to get right. I also love that little wood heater in the corner- we are about to replace and old one in our kitchen/dining space in time for winter- this one looks to be the right shape and size.

    • Thanks so much Francesca, the kitchen is a tough space because it has to serve so many purposes. Our problem was space as it was not overly large and we did need the big table, that was the one thing we could not compromise on. The wood burner has been an enormous success story. I melt butter and chocolate on it, it dries wet coats, hats, you name it ad it is very responsive, we can close all the air vents and turn it right down so that it just burns very slowly or we can fire it up so that it is roaring away. Everyone who comes to our house in the winter is astounded at how impressive such a little fire can be. We’ll be watching Melbourne tomorrow, hope the weather is not too hot! xx

  • I am very new here, I only found your blog this week but I can see it’s a very popular place to be and I can also see why. What beautiful photos and so well written. I am always drawn to blogs written by English people and I have added yours to the very few that I follow

  • Methinks I would be so comfortable walking in thru’ your kitchen door, dumping the unnecessary onto a side table, grabbing a mug of coffee which probably would be there, sitting down around that table and letting my breath out in relief . . . 🙂 ! It looks like THAT kind of room which would release all tensions the world had heaped upon us . . . All the necessities . . . none of the fuss! Whilst reading all the comments I just kept on hoping no one was going to mention that offbeat chandelier making so much difference . . . well, I should have known Francesca [who lives but 700km ‘down the road’ – that does not count!!!] would get there ahead of me [she usually does] and thinks the same way . . . .wonderful . . . . comfortable fun . . .

    • I would like to think you are absolutely right, this is a kitchen and a house where everyone is welcome, there is nothing better than friends popping in for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Typical Australian beating you to it!!! Enjoy your wonderful weather, we’re in for a big freeze again this week with all sorts of warnings about the extreme cold, I’ll think of you enjoying the heat, at least it will be sunny here though, just very cold! Xx

  • Love you kitchen, it truly is the heart of your home. Just wondering what you do with the pizza over? Is it a clever storage cabinet now?

    • Hi Kathleene, thank so much, you guessed it, at the moment the bread oven is indeed used as a storage unit, but it’s also t he next job on our agenda, we want to open it up and get it back into being a proper working oven if it is possible, I would love to have it in the kitchen, it would be rather fun. Xx

  • Love Love Love! ❤️ I am CRAZY about chandeliers and yours is FABULOUS! The 🔥 place is beyond words! I don’t have one in my kitchen but I would absolutely love one. And you are so right! The kitchen is such a center of activity.
    I gave a 🎄 party for 65 and where did everyone end up? But the kitchen.
    Actually, Susan this is “how and what” I envisioned your kitchen would be…A very charming room that family and friends can sit down at a table and have a glass of milk and 🍪, a cup of ☕️ or a glass of 🍷and chat about EVERYTHING. A place that continually radiates the ❤️ and soul of your Lovely Family! It is simply Beautiful!
    My big news for my kitchen is I believe that by the end of the year I have my husband talked into buying me a smaller LaCanche stove…I am so excited! 🍲🍳🍤🍗🍰
    Thank you for sharing a part of your beautiful farmhouse. ❤️

    • Thanks so much Stephanie, everyone always ends up or stays in the kitchen at parties! So often I try to get eveyrone in the winter next door into the sitting room, the fire is alight, the ambience is perfect and it’s so much more sophisticated in there, but no, where does everyone stay? In the kitchen of course!!! Hopefully we will one day share a glass of wine together in the kitchen here. I am just a little envious of the Lacanche, which colour are you going to get, I always love the Delft blue, as you can see I have drooled over them many times!!! Xx

      • Too Funny! I love the Delft Blue, too. ❤️ I have the sample of Faience in my kitchen. I could go either way. I was first introduced at Mimi’s Workshop a year ago December and “fell in love” with the Brand. My daughter lives in New York and we went to the showroom. Gorgeous…! Elisa, the East Coast Sales Director is wonderful. The big surprise was my friend Blair (who I met at Mimi’s and works out of the Paris office) was in New York for a visit and surprised my daughter and me by being at my appointment. Lovely young lady! ❤️️
        So…I can hardly wait…
        And, we will meet one day! I promise! ❤️😘

      • The Faience is lovely, I just spent a great fifteen minutes going through all the designs and colours! The trouble is I cannot fault our Falcon in any way, it cooks perfectly and we have been so pleased with it and we cook a lot! Neither could I justify the expense of changing a perfect range just for a colour so I will just have to dream!! It sounds as if you had great fun at the showroom! I will certainly expect to see photos when you have it fitted and installed!!! xx

      • I have a Viking that is starting to show its age. I did a kitchen remodel years ago and the only thing that needs to be replaced is the stove.
        I have spent many hours looking and relooking on the LaCanche website. Their Instagram account is lovely, too!
        BTW…I don’t think I mention it but I love your shelving. If I ever redo my kitchen (which I highly doubt I will) I have my dream picture of what I want the shelving to look like!
        Have a wonderful week! And thank you for being “Fabulous You…! ❤️🤗❤️

      • Actually I wish now when we had done the kitchen that I had realised that LaCanche did the small 90cm range, they are the same price as our style of Falcon was, I just never even knew at the time the small ones existed, I had only ever seen the huge models, like Mimi’s! Now I tease myself by wondering what colour I would have chosen!! It’s the first time we have done the open shelving and I would never go back to cupboards now, initially we started off with just cheap plain white shelves, whilst we decided if it was a feasible option and if we would keep them and it to check it wasn’t going to be too dusty. Once we decided they were a definite ‘yes’ we had our local carpenter cut some lengths of French oak for us, we have left them totally au naturel. Sooo cold here today! xx

  • Just gorgeous, Susan! I loved the tour of your kitchen. I love that you wanted it to have morning light. It really does make a difference to the mornings, doesn’t it? You all look so happy there :). xxx

    • Thanks so much Olga, yes morning light really does make all the difference, when the early morning sun is pouring through the windows the day just seems to start off perfectly, it lifts the spirit! It’s a happy home and a very happy kitchen, even though it is frequently both noisy and chaotic! Hope you have a lovely week xx

    • Thank you so much Ann, the bread oven was such a great feature, we had to work around it of course and leave it just as it was, apart from painting the brickwork above. I rather like mixing the old with the new. Hope you have a truly lovely week xx

  • Susan, you did the best of your kitchen and I like the mix and match and the chandelier.
    This place reflects your happy family life.

    • Thanks so much, it’s a family home first and foremost and it’s often noisy, often a little chaotic, but I also hope it’s always happy, that’s all I can really ask for and all I want. Hope you have a lovely week ahead, is Spain getting the big chill forecast for much of Europe? Xx

      • still between 16 and 19 during the day. At night under the duvet, haha….no se. my current kitchen is like a sleeve
        but still enough place for my beloved 6burner Ilve which is the biggest piece in the kitchen.

      • OK so now I am a little jealous! Although we have been around 12C, but the big chill is due to arrive tonight and then we have several nights forecast well below freezing and days at around 0C! I am sure your kitchen is perfect especially with the big 6 burner cooker. xx

  • Your kitchen is just lovely – and that it suits your life just makes it all the better. As a kid, our family always gravitated toward the kitchen, so I love to see that we were not alone. It is a perfect place to gather and enjoy company.

    • Thanks Sarah, it is certainly very much the heart of our home, the table is used for everything from cooking to eating to homework to arts and crafts, whilst the children are at school it is my desk, it’s a very multi-functional room! xx

  • What a wonderful kitchen, Susan. Amy and I have drooled over this post for a couple of days now and just love everything about it. The mix of old and new is just sublime and although I’m not as much of a cook as you are, I reckon I could knock something tasty up on that range fo yours. The luxury of having two ovens must be great! Roast in one and spuds in the other – bliss!

    On another note (and I’m not sure this is the place to ask), Amy is keen to find some of those copper pans you have hanging in your kitchen. Do you ever run across any on your ‘Brocante inspections’? And horror of horrors, would you be able to help her purchase some? This is a long shot, but it’s her mother’s birthday next month and she really wants to find something a little different, authentic and French. Please don’t go out of your way, I’m just asking this on the off chance. You can buy pans like that here in the UK but they’re extremely expensive and there’s no way to tell their origin. I apologise in advance if this puts you out in any way.

    • Thanks so much Simon, the kitchen is fabulous to cook in, we both find it really inspiring for some reason, it just feels right and works well. Now onto pans, actually our local brocante usually has a really good supply of genuine copper pans, some are in better condition than others, but he has lots in all shapes and sizes and his prices are ok. If you send me an email, susanourfrenchoasis@gmail.com we can chat further and I can go in and have a look at what he has, take some photos and we can go from there. It’s not a problem at all, only too willing to help. xx

  • The heart of the house, the family kitchen … yours is very lovely and clearly a place that is loved and used by the whole family including the animals …. just as it should be! Right now I am living in an appart-hotel in Grenoble with a kitchen that consists of a two ring electric ceramic hob, a tiny fridge with ice-box and the bare essentials for two people … if I close my eyes I can dream!

    • It’s a little bit chaotic, busy, noisy and just perfect! The apart-hotel sounds interesting, but you have the snow, so I cannot feel even the slightest bit sorry for you, you have SNOW!!!!!!!! xx

      • Challenging is good for the soul (so I keep telling myself) but the snow does make up for everything …. even when we thought we were driving across a field in the Ardèche on Monday night but in fact it was just snow on the road in a place called, aptly St Bonnet le Froid (I kid you not!!) which my expert map reading and preference for looking at the beauty of the landscape rather than the book had erroneously led us to!! Fortunately I have a wonderfully tolerant husband who understands these things 😉 xxx

      • Hmmm I’ve said similar things to myself, life shouldn’t be too easy otherwise we wouldn’t appreciate the good things! I wonder if it’s true or if I am jut making myself feel better! So so cold here, -5C overnight, that never happens here, the coldest we have ever known it, but dry! St Bonnet le Froid is just the coolest name ever for a village/hamlet. I must have a go at map reading with the children, I fear it’s a skill they have never learnt, they are experts with the GPS, they can direct me anywhere whilst staring at the screen in the car but I wonder if they would even know how to understand an old fashioned map? xxx

      • This is a conversation my husband and I have often … we are old fashioned (or old if the children are to be believed) and we use maps but we wonder if this generation know how to use one – I think the only one of ours that can is the youngest who was a Scout (very proud that she was the first girl cub in her pack and carried on until she was 15 when she got too cool for school sadly!) As to the weather … we sat watching the météo last night and they announced Grenoble was the coldest place in France at -12 to which hubby announced that New England is stalking us since he has never in 37 years experience known Grenoble to be the coldest place on the map before!!!! Hey ho – be careful what you wish for and I’m always wishing for snow as we know 😂 xxx

      • I cannot honestly remember the last time I physically opened a map to look at a directions in the car. A local map for walking yes, but I totally reliant on the GPS in the car too I’m afraid! It’s so easy except when the GPS fails to have the tiny country lanes and we seem to get lost in the middle of nowhere! -12 is really cold, it is forecast to be -6 or -7 tonight which is quite the talk of the village, no one remembers it so cold here! Stay warm! xx

    • Thanks so much Marsha, hope your weather warmed up. We are in the grip of a Siberian chill here, it’s freezing quite literally, but we do at least have plenty of sun and blue skies. Still I really appreciate your Texas sun too. xxx

    • I so agree, the kitchen really is the heart of our home, it’s where it all happens, the discussions, the decisions, the food, the eating, our kitchen is the most important room in our house! xx

  • I love your kitchen! I grew up with a “Family kitchen” and it was always my favorite room in the house! Ours was not as pretty as yours (redone in the 70’s) but it was ours and we loved it! Thanks for sharing! karen…

    • Hi Karen, I am sure yours was absolutely fantastic, the atmosphere is from all the people who make the kitchen, that wonderful warm, friendly, homely place, that’s what makes it special in my opinion. Hope you are having a lovely week xx

  • Morning sun, wood stove, large table in the middle. Best of all, precious family and friends gathering together to break bread. Thanks for sharing.

  • Your kitchen is gorgeous. It is so homey and warm. It certainly feels like it is filled with family and memory making opportunities. Thanks for linking to Monday Social.

    • Thanks so much Katie, it’s far from perfect, but it’s perfect for us! For me it is the friendly atmosphere that makes it what it is and the woodburning stove keeping us all super toasty warm!!! Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • What a beautiful kitchen, with its original exterior wall that lets in so much light. Your project shows what is too often a novel idea: don’t settle for a bad kitchen size or location–move it! We should all be so brave and innovative, thank you for sharing your corner of France, I love it!

    • Thank you so much, it’s far from perfect but it is perfect for us, it makes a great family kitchen, cosy in the winter and fabulous in the summer with the doors and windows flung open. xx

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