Making a House a Home

- Monday, July 01, 2013

When does a new house become your new home? I thought about this the other day while perusing a cookbook. Seeking inspiration for a dinner I wanted to prepare for out-of-town guests visiting over the 4th of July, I had grabbed my copy of Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Kitchen. I must admit that the book was not on a shelf in my kitchen, but in a stack of books piled high on my bedroom nightstand.

I read cookbooks like others read novels and I find Nigella’s wonderfully composed culinary descriptions are both entertaining and inspiring. One passage prompted me to ponder the very question of what makes a house a home. Nigella says, “I don’t really feel a kitchen is mine until I have cooked a chicken there.” 

(This is where we all conjure the marvelous memory those mouth-watering aromas a favorite dish of our mother’s brought to our home.)

Anyway, that got me thinking, when does a house really become a home? When you close on the deal and sign the papers? When the inspector gives you the certificate of occupancy? When you move in? Surely it has to be something more meaningful and personal than the handing over of keys, the making of beds, or even the stocking of a pantry. But what?  Do you remember when you truly felt your new home was your new home?

For me, a house becomes a home when it functions as you hoped it would; providing comfort and joy for you and your guests. Case in point, my clients’ new home in Spanish Wells Plantation. Recently I attended two very different events they hosted in the same week -- one for the Chamber of Commerce and the other a birthday celebration. Very different events, the home worked flawlessly for both.

A casual, coastal décor was established from the start. The clients were relocating from a very traditional, red-brick colonial-style home in Virginia and desired a more relaxed and less formal atmosphere for their new digs in the Lowcountry. “No fuss” and “user-friendly” were key to establishing the design direction. The kitchen, more than any other space in the house, exemplifies this theme.  It is truly the heart of the home, connecting the living and entertaining spaces. This integration was very important to the clients. They wanted the kitchen to embody an intimacy for two on a daily basis yet allow a catering set-up for 80 or more when needed.

And, I feel, this kitchen would bring a big smile to Nigella’s face . . . 

Credit architect James Ogden and cabinet designer Arlene Williams with finessing the efficient layout of the kitchen as well as the adjacent mud room. This small but multi-tasking space serves as a secondary entrance from the garage to the house, a home office, and a catering space when needed, keeping the main kitchen free of clutter and mess. I integrated the paint colors, granites, and other finishes with the main kitchen so the two spaces would flow together as one larger room when needed.

Judging from the relaxed expressions on my clients’ faces for both of these special occasions as well as when I have dropped by during lunch preparation, I can tell their kitchen works for them. While the design team coordinated the look and feel, it’s the client’s personal touches like family photos and treasured mementos that make the space truly special.

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