The Social Status of Domestic Kitchens

The hearth has always been regarded as the heart of the home, to paraphrase Frank Lloyd Wright.

The hearth was where people gathered on cold evenings to keep warm and be enchanted by the flicker of an open fire. In the 21st century our houses have become more comfortable. Under floor heating, more efficient radiators and renewable energy sources are replacing solid fuel as the dominant method of heating. The hearth still has a place in our collective reverie, but is increasingly irrelevant.

Meanwhile, the kitchen, no longer relegated behind closed doors as a private space, has been elevated in status. It has become a stage to enact the play of domesticity. Its essential functionality hidden behind a facade of matching finishes, concealing integrated appliances and ensuring a seamless, smooth surface, exactly to fit.

An integral aspect of contemporary free-flowing living spaces, the hub around which activity revolves. Organic sourdough bread, artisan freshly ground coffees, all take their cue in the act of domestic bliss. The domestic kitchen is no longer a space of simple convenience; it has become the archetypal symbol of modern living.

The elevation of the kitchen in the hierarchy of domestic spaces also poses a question, is the kitchen the new hearth? Possibly, but do spare a thought for the declining status and uncertain future of the traditional hearth.