The wood floor was kept spotless, even with the rather untidy and heaping pile of shoes at the kitchen door. Everyone seemed to enjoy, any time of day or night, grabbing the broom and sweeping up sand as we'd talk or make plans and nibble on fruit which was always left available on the counter.
Other than the fruit, the counters were spare; empty like an open stretch of beach. There were no piles of bills; no calendars, mail or "to do" lists. There were stacks of books in the kitchen, which were thumbed through at random. Most of the kitchen was old, and by most standards unstylish. But it was simple, unencumbered, charming and functional. It had everything one would need to make and serve every kind of meal. Nothing was without purpose. The stove was electric (and old), the pots and pans ordinary. But there were many pristine chopping boards and sharp knives, a variety of stainers, platters, a pasta maker, juicer and more. Someone clearly had thoughtfully planned this wonderful kitchen.
Indeed, this was the kitchen in the summer home of a chef and restauranteur, his French restaurant achieving national acclaim as one of New York City's finest. His Connecticut kitchen inspired me to create a similar feel - a summer kitchen - in my own century home's kitchen.
The summer kitchen was a feature of fine homes in the days before air conditioning and modern stoves; a place outside to cook over a hot fire as to not heat up the main house. While not needed today, the concept of a summer kitchen and making a different environment for cooking during summer I find most appealing. The summer kitchen of today can be created in any kitchen just by stocking your pantry, clearing the counters and creating visual space for an unencumbered feel. Then with an eye for simplicity, function and fun, your kitchen, too, can take on a unique summer feel.