By Carleton Varney
Special to the Daily News
I know you know this one: “Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, someone’s in the kitchen I know….” I remember singing that with my friends around the campfire during my summer-camp days, and someone might even have a banjo to play as background.
Seems to me, everyone loves to gather in the kitchen around the table — or these days, the work island.
What makes the kitchen America’s — and probably the world’s — favorite room? Maybe it’s because so many of us have nice memories of the kitchens of our childhoods, memories scented, perhaps, with cinnamon from a just-baked apple pie or the aroma of homemade bread or rich brewed coffee or hot cider during the winter months.
In West Palm Beach, the name of one of my favorite restaurants honors this special place. I hope you’ve been to Kitchen on Belvedere Road just east of South Dixie Highway. It’s the spot to be. To say that I love Kitchen is an understatement. The food, the service, the atmosphere are all magic, and I am highly recommending a visit. You’ll frequent it often, because the cuisine is tops, and if you may even get a hello from the chef behind the kitchen door, Matthew Byrne, and his wife, Aliza, who oversees the operation.
When planning your own kitchen from scratch, you’ll find many approaches to the layout and décor. Some folks like the streamlined look of black and white with lots of contemporary chrome and stainless steel, along with a hard-surface floor. In Palm Beach, you’ll find that terracotta-tile floors are popular, as are floors of concrete finished with that Venetian painted look — easy to clean and easy on the feet.
While the black-and-white kitchen may be a popular choice, many find it too cold or modern for their tastes. For them, a kitchen with the cozy look of New England or Provence in France might be a more comfortable choice. Wood floors are the choice for these kitchen planners, along with natural-pine cabinetry and windows treated with pine shutters. Such a cozy kitchen demands a kitchen table that can accommodate six or eight. A lazy-Susan-equipped table is a favorite of mine — place all the luncheon or supper special dishes in the center of the table and keep it rolling!
If all that natural wood isn’t quite to your taste, you can still have an informal kitchen with a crisp and clean look. Here in Palm Beach, light and bright seems to be the preference in décor and, yes, country-style kitchens in white are very doable. Place white-painted chairs with mesh seats around a white-painted table, above which hangs a rattan-style light fixture. Install white plantation-style shutters at windows, and for your countertops, choose a white stone over white-painted cabinets. If it all sounds a little too white, accent the look with a bright bowl of navel oranges.
White kitchens also can be brightened up with open-glass cabinets that have the backs painted a rich tangy color. Then hang curtains — from white poles and rings — sewn from a juicy check pattern in orange and white, or lime green and white. Or for an even splashier look, consider curtains of a Lilly Pulitzer print, maybe one with oranges or pineapples.
Sunday is Easter, and Passover begins April 22. I think holidays and kitchens go hand in hand. As you and your family gather in yours, with the scent of dinner hanging in the air, I hope there are smiles all around your table.