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Family Thoughts

Simple Saturday: a couch in the kitchen

By November 26, 2011No Comments
My kitchen couch

Simple Saturday is the culmination of a list I’ve been compiling in my head of some simple things I’ve done that have made life for me and my family easier and generally more enjoyable. Some of them are things that you can buy, and some of them are not. But all of them are things that I thought it might be worth sharing.

Yesterday was Black Friday (or Plaid Friday, which my friend Emily at As the Crowe Flies pointed out as a nice alternative) and today is Small Business Saturday. I have sworn to give no gifts this year that cannot be either made by me or bought in my little town of Madison, which feels very freeing. I really hate malls, and just the thought of not having to go anywhere near one this holiday season makes me want to skip through the streets singing Christmas carols. So for this Simple Saturday, I offer something that you might buy, but might also just involve some furniture rearranging.

Putting a couch in the kitchen happened mostly by happenstance rather than any brilliant planning on my part, I have to confess. When I moved into my house, there was no room in the living room for my smaller couch, but plenty of room in the kitchen. So there it stayed. I still claim my decision to leave the couch in the kitchen as one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.

There have been essays and articles about the shift in American family life from the living room or family room into the kitchen. Kitchens have gotten increasingly bigger and more elaborately designed in new houses. I don’t think hanging out in the kitchen is a bad thing, though some argue that this contributes to our obesity epidemic. Growing up, the kitchen was the beating heart of my family, and I think that’s okay. When you have a party, where does everyone immediately congregate? The kitchen. Putting a couch there is just surrendering to the inevitable.

The couch is a nice place for folks to hang out while someone else does the cooking. Both my husband and I like to cook, and both of us also like to lounge while someone else does the cooking. Which is more pleasurable–lounging or cooking? It’s hard to say. But drinking a nice glass of wine, chatting, and smelling all the aromas of good food being prepared on a comfy couch is one of those small experiences that makes life more pleasurable. Recently, our daughter has started cooking with us some, and watching my husband instruct her in mise en place is quite entertaining. And of course, when you have friends over, they can sit on the couch while you cook for them.

But having a couch in a room without a tv has also been advantageous in our household. It basically means that I can sit in a comfortable spot reading or knitting without having to listen to Spongebob or whatever happens to be on Teen Nick while our daughter watches tv. And she has a place to escape from another football game should the need arise. In general, it’s nice to have a comfy spot where all three of us can sit without the temptation of a television in front of us. Things like actual conversation are likely to break out.

We also have a small island with stools in our kitchen, and I think this is probably more common than an actual piece of living room furniture. Having a place to sit in a kitchen is nothing unusual, and not everyone has enough space for a couch. But there’s something extra nice about a couch…especially if it’s a comfy one. It invites you to linger, to lounge, to get comfy, to take a nap (which I do from time to time on our kitchen couch), to all crowd in together. It is the piece of furniture that everyone who comes into our house heads for immediately. And if you’re so inclined, it is a furniture arrangement I highly recommend.

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