How you picture your home is visual, but your experience of it is multi-sensory. Think of the tactile or textural experience of your home. This is even more important as winter continues to hang on and we need to snuggle in.
A Feng Shui kitchen is the heart of the home. Picture yourself gathered around a table with friends or family, or sitting on your own with a cup of coffee or tea. Contrary to what your grandmother said, elbows and forearms will be resting on the table or kitchen island. Do you relax or draw away? What is your tactile or touch experience? If the table or kitchen counter is granite, marble or glass, you will withdraw from its cold hard surface – undermining the warm emotional experience you desire from your kitchen.
A week ago my friend, Laurie, asked me what to do with her worn kitchen island countertop. Since I love to give my opinion on design issues, I was eager to hear her question.
She has a cherry wood counter top on her kitchen island, and after twenty years it is looking worn. Another friend suggested simply adding a granite top to the wooden surface, but Laurie was not sure that was the best situation.
I asked her how she uses her kitchen island. Laurie’s family shares meals at the island and her teenagers do their homework there. Clearly her kitchen island is an important gathering place for her family.
Granite is an elegant kitchen work surface, but it is also hard and cold. A gathering table or kitchen island needs to be warm and inviting. On a subtle level a granite, marble, stone or concrete counter will be unwelcoming. Because of its cold, hard qualities, you and your family and friends will avoid it and may not know why. More importantly you will loose a gathering place in your home.
Laurie’s friend is a serious home cook and her kitchen island was not used as a gathering place. In that case granite is great.
Think of touch and texture when you are selecting items for your home. Wood is the warmest and most welcoming. Formica and Corian are practical and neutral. Stone, concrete and glass are cold and hard.
The same tactile issues apply to a kitchen or dining room table – or even a desk. Think about your total experience of the material, not just its appearance. How welcoming is a glass-topped table? Is the table a gathering place, like a coffee table or dining table? Or is it an elegant decorative piece? Think of how you are using the piece – that will guide to make the best selection for your emotional and decorating needs.
Still, ever-ready to give advice to my friend – I suggested that all she simply refinish the solid wood counter top so it doesn’t look so worn. Ideally she can work with someone who will do minimum sanding to maintain as much of the patina of the wood as possible. One of the things we love about wood is the character it develops with time and wear – just like us. 😉
Update: Visiting my friend’s home recently, she was so happy that she kept her worn and warm cherry wood kitchen island counter top – and you can see why.
One of my favorite things about winter is having an excuse to snuggle up with sweaters, quilts and throws. A quilt or throw that has been washed innumerable times until it is deliciously soft is a wonderful treat. I find that natural materials are the best for warmth and comfort. A rayon chenille throw can feel plush, but is just does not keep me warm. Wool is warmest. Quilted silk or cashmere, if you are lucky, is purr-inducing. The tactile delights of summer are soft grass under your bare feet, freshly laundered cotton and linen and the silkiness of flower petals.
photo by author