Transform Your Kitchen: Create A Winter Hearth

Winter blues got you down? Turn your kitchen into a nurturing sanctuary a place to warm yourself and your family and honor the coming spring.

| January/February 2004

Before electricity, the hearth was literally the center of the home—the source of food, warmth, and light­­. The modern-day kitchen is still a hub of activity, but the emphasis has changed. Mealtimes are hit or miss, and families don’t gather around the table as much. Kitchens have become psychological battlegrounds for issues of gender (whose job is it to cook?), nutrition (frozen vs. home-cooked), and time (who has an hour to make dinner?). And, in a culture that’s perpetually watching its weight, the refrigerator can be a diet war zone.

With a little care and thought, you can transform your kitchen into a more spiritual and inviting place—and winter is a good time because we crave the hearth’s warmth during the cold, drab months.

Soften up

First, think about how your kitchen décor makes you feel. Does it need softening? Most kitchen surfaces—countertops, floors—are hard and cold, much like the world outside at this time of year. The antidote? “Make a comfy nest for yourself in the kitchen,” advises Cait Johnson, author of Witch in the Kitchen: Magical Cooking for All Seasons (Destiny Books, 2001), who places a fluffy rug in front of her sink to stand on while doing dishes. She also recommends soft cushions for kitchen chairs, which tend to be straight-backed and rigid. Her kitchen in upstate New York is home to a large, curvy armchair. “It’s heaven to curl up in it and read cookbooks while I dream about food and decide what to fix for dinner,” she says.

Although winter is a dark time of year, its dormancy is a preamble to spring. To honor the season, Johnson suggests arranging bare branches in an earthenware jug. Then, to remind yourself of the life under the soil, force spring bulbs such as paperwhites or daffodils to bloom early.

For soft light and sweet honey scent, make your own candles by melting beeswax on the stove and pouring it into glass votive holders with lead-free wicks. As they burn, think how you’re reawakening the traditional hearth flame in your own kitchen.



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