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Home story: A kitchen with children

Beate (@trinonella), Andi and their four children live in a small town in Bavaria. They both work as air traffic controllers, although Beate is currently on maternity leave. 3 years ago they bought a single-family home built in 1990, then completely gutted and renovated it. They are anything but short on ideas. To find out more about their cosy home and planning a kitchen with children, read our interview with Beate:

1. How would you describe your home and your interior design style? Is your personality reflected in your interior design?
Our home has character. We did a lot of work ourselves and it didn’t always turn out perfect. I would describe our style as Nordic comfort. We love natural materials like wood and linen. Personally, I’m quite reserved but like to draw clean lines. I like things to be orderly but never sterile, both in life and in design.

2. What inspired you to choose this style?
When I was a child, my parents and I frequently travelled to Denmark and Norway. Later on, my husband and I also travelled a lot before we had children. Foreign countries are always a great source of inspiration. I also love reading lifestyle magazines and interior design books. During our renovation, I got a lot of inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram.

3. You have 4 children. How did they influence your interior design?
When you have children, your furniture has to be one thing first and foremost: practical. Still, we don’t want to push beauty to the sidelines. So we always try to find a compromise by selecting materials and surfaces that are easy to clean. We bought a lot of furniture used, so it’s not a tragedy if something breaks or gets a little scratched. Aside from that, our children also bring plenty of colour to our lives, so we chose more subtle colours for our furniture.

4. All of your photos present a beautifully styled home where everything has its place. How do you do it, with four children?
Oh, thank you very much! But I’ll have to disappoint you. Like all other families, our home is often a very chaotic space. I keep some corners tidier than others. The kitchen is the heart of our living and dining area, so I want it to stay tidy. Sometimes that works, sometimes less so. Apart from that, little storage space helpers like baskets and boxes help us tidy up faster.

5. Does your home have a colour scheme? How has that affected your kitchen?
We don’t have a special colour scheme, but we like things light and cosy. That’s why we have a lot of white furniture combined with wood. But where our kitchen was concerned, we thought white was too “normal” and impractical. Our grey fronts are not too dark but still easy to clean. We remain very satisfied with our choice of colour!

6. How is the style of your home reflected in your kitchen?
I wanted to have a light-coloured, simple kitchen. But I also wanted to avoid a sterile appearance. The kitchen acts a living space for us; the greater part of our daily lives takes place in it. Decorative elements like the hook rack and the pictures add cosiness.

7. What did you consider important while planning your kitchen?
We changed our plans a lot. For a long time, we thought about how to best design a kitchen for our family. Storage space is important, but we did not want to break up the open-plan room concept with top units or a cooker hood. Plenty of light and space – that’s what made us fall in love with this house and that’s what we wanted to emphasise. We have more than enough storage space in the bottom units. The bar counter was the second thing we considered incredibly important. It’s a space for family and friends to get together. We didn’t want our kitchen to be a separate area but wanted it to be integrated in our living space. We also wanted a wooden worktop and an inset sink. We pondered those decisions for a long time because we didn’t know whether they make sense for a household with children, but fortunately wood is not sensitive.

8. What inspired you to choose this kitchen design?
The internet was both a curse and a blessing for us. We really weren't short on ideas, but in the end you have to figure out what actually suits your lifestyle. 
Visiting a furniture shop is also helpful. Assessing furniture is a lot easier, once you have seen it in real life. I’m not even necessarily talking about specific designs, but for instance small details like the spacing between cabinets. Our kitchen designer gave us excellent advice. For instance, our worktop is a little higher than usual. We had the opportunity to test on location whether or not that would be a problem for us.

9. What did you consider particularly important for the design and furniture of your kitchen?
As I mentioned, natural materials and subtle colours were very important to me. In addition, we chose a downdraft extractor fan instead of a conventional cooker hood. My husband spent some time researching electric appliances. For instance, we bought an extra-quiet dishwasher, because we have an open-plan kitchen.

10. Your kitchen has no wall units. How did that come about?
The ground floor is very light and airy. We even broke through the wall to the conservatory to open up the living and dining area even more. That added a lot of light and space! We didn’t want to destroy that impression with wall cabinets. From the very start, we also wanted a buffet sideboard for the conservatory to keep dishes within reach. That means we don’t need any extra storage space like wall units in the kitchen.

11. So the bar counter in the kitchen is great for a morning coffee or a little snack?
Absolutely! The children also like to sit there to eat a quick bite before school or do their homework in the afternoon. When we cook, friends and family often sit down at the bar counter to keep us company. We love how freely our guests move through our kitchen!

12. How did your children affect the design of your kitchen?
We keep sharp and pointed items out of reach on the worktop. Our worktop also has plenty of space, so the children like to sit on it sometimes to watch me cook or bake or even help me. The two older ones have even been cooking all on their own recently! Because all the pots, pans and cooking utensils are well-organised, they know exactly where to find everything and can experiment to their heart’s content. And above all, all the utensils are easily accessible!

13. What did you need to keep in mind with regard to electric appliances because of your children?
We keep almost all of our electric appliances stashed away and only plug them in to use them. The oven and hob have a child-safety feature. Still, I think it’s important not to keep children away from the appliances, but to let them be a part of the process and teach them how to handle the appliances step by step. Nevertheless, I don't leave the two little ones unsupervised in the kitchen.

14. What were your considerations for the pull-out units?
We have a lot of pull-out units in our kitchen, because I think they are more practical than doors. There are large pull-out units for pots directly underneath the hob. That means everything we need is right at hand. Smaller drawers contain cutlery and baking utensils or storage containers. Special inserts help us organise. And one thing is very important: A junk drawer that you can just throw small items in!

15. What do your children like about the kitchen?
Definitely the bar counter! They fell in love with that right away. I can’t really say exactly what else they like, but they move through the kitchen without any reservation. Maybe that’s because our kitchen is so nice and open and integrated in our living space.

16. Do you like to hang out in your kitchen as a family? Or is it your personal realm?
We see our kitchen as living space, so we spend a lot of time there! We all like to cook and bake and tidying up is also important!

17. What does life in the kitchen mean for you?
For us, our kitchen is a place where we bake and cook, but also talk, read, have fun, experiment, laugh, argue, listen to music. I think a kitchen should not just be practical and functional, but a place for getting together!

18. Do you let your children help you in the kitchen? Are there tricks you use to make that possible?
Yes, my children love helping in the kitchen! After all, they always see us prepare meals and of course they are curious and like to experiment. However, tidying up is also part of the process. We often have to remind them of that. In general, I think children like to take part in daily life. If you support them (e.g. with children’s cookbooks) and the kitchen is accessible to them, a lot of children love helping in the kitchen. Our children are always very proud of any meal they cooked themselves.

19. Tell us about a beautiful moment you and your family experienced in your kitchen?
There were many beautiful moments: When our children cook a surprise meal, when we’re joking around at the bar counter or when I’m bathing my baby in the sink. But the most beautiful moment was probably when our kitchen was finally installed and we got to use it.