An article from our quarterly MGA Newsletter:
The other Sunday, while tucking into the obligatory roast and veg, I found myself musing on the enduring popularity of the living-dining-kitchen concept. We were lunching elsewhere on this particular occasion and our hosts had – very sensibly in my opinion – secured the services of a young helper to serve the food, clear the table and wash up afterwards. I don’t know what a competent 18-year-old would be paid to do this, but I fancy that £30 might be enough and when one considers the sums people splash on babysitters and the like, it seems like money very well spent.
However, since most of us have turned our backs on the apartheid of the separate kitchen and dining room arrangement, we no longer have the luxury of consigning the culinary disasters, dirty dishes and teenage help behind the green baize door. The fact is that our beloved open-plan family rooms aren’t always great for entertaining unless you’ve got an army of sous-chefs in residence clearing the counters as you go.
There are a few things which have helped make the kitchen a more acceptable place for your dinner party: one is the use of islands, which nicely separate the food prep from the dinner guests; another is the decline in popularity of traditional wall units, resulting in kitchens that look less obviously kitchen-y; and finally the scullery is making a belated comeback, meaning the pots and pans don’t sit glaring at everybody during and after dinner and there isn’t the noise of clattering knives, forks and plates going into dishwashers.
At the moment, we’re working on a scheme with a huge sliding door to separate the kitchen from the dining area, but a scullery is definitely worth thinking about, if it’s the washing up that’s the main problem, and it’s the perfect place for the laundry, too. Both rooms require independent access but that shouldn’t be difficult if the house is well planned. Of course the other answer is to bring back the dining room – or to entertain only when the sun shines and seat your guests outside instead!