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Julia Child Kitchen Design Tips

You don't get your kitchen put on display at the Smithsonian by accident. In Julia's Kitchen, a new book by architect-author Pamela Heyne, dives into the design of Child's various kitchens, with reflections on how they influenced modern eating and design trends. The book also includes never-before-seen images of Child's original Cambridge kitchen.

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Here are 10 (simple) ways you can spruce up your kitchen, which will surely lead to Child-inspired cooking parties.

① Install a Pegboard Wall

Child would tack Polaroids of her organized tools on the wall to remind her of her preferred layout, but use the technological era to your advantage and snap a few smartphone photos when things are looking particularly organized.

② Make It an Eat-In Style

The author explores the benefits of sitting down to share meals together, which is facilitated by having a welcoming table as the anchor of the room.

③ Alphabetize Your Spices

Even if Child didn't use this useful trick, there's no good reason why you shouldn't go from allspice to za'atar. This one simple step will make your life wildly easier.

④ Take It to New Heights

Go high (and low) when thinking design. Place rarely used tools on high-up shelves with a step stool nearby and consider a hip-height under-counter refrigerator for keeping surplus goods on hand.

⑤ Embrace the Microwave

Child apparently deemed the fear of the microwave as "silly," and we're with her on that. There's no need to hate on an appliance in which you can melt chocolate, cook eggs (three ways!), froth milk and even prepare a full meal with ease.

⑥ Clutter to Your Heart's Content

Go against the modern, minimalist mind-set and let your messy flag fly. "Julia disliked the sleek, clutter-free, modern look," Heyne writes. That's why you'd see her many kitchen tools (strategically) scattered throughout the kitchen.

⑦ Install Task Lighting

You want to actually see what you're doing, right? Bonus: It helps keep the fingertips out of your French onion soup.

⑧ Stay Away from Tile

Julia Child liked her kitchen floors to be soft—which makes sense, considering how much time she spent there. She once had a ceramic floor that was "beautiful, but impossible on the feet," compared to the linoleum floor of her Cambridge kitchen that was kinder on the soles.

⑨ Be a Magnetic Presence

And not just with your character, like Child herself. Mount a magnetic strip on the wall to hold your everyday knives somewhere within arm's reach. And if you're concerned about a heavy load, add a few nails to support the handle and take weight off.

⑩ Don't Forget About Aesthetics

Just because your kitchen is designed with a smart cooking flow in mind doesn't mean it has to be utilitarian. Child had decorative molds above her pans on the pegboard, and she liked the chic attitude her black refrigerator gave off.


Images from In Julia's Kitchen: Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child by Pamela Heyne and Jim Scherer published by ForeEdge, an imprint of University Press of New England.