“June Gloom” in San Diego is defined by days of sea mist, refreshing glimpses of the sun and mild summer weather. In the garden and at the markets, it is easy to imagine this area as a land of abundance and endless repasts. Soon enough the illusions come to an end as the sun peaks around the clouds with greater frequency until the long stretch of hot summer is here. Then it is hot and dry with endless blue skies, only relieved by cool coastal salted breezes that lightly caress the sweat of the day.
Sara and I are in the middle of renovating a house and my cooking has reverted to the “food and shelter” mode that has been a way of life over the last seven years of historic restorations and renovations. Instead of daily culinary rhythms, my cooking requires greater planning. One cooking event will create two to three meals and we consume more ready to eat foods including avocados from our tree, salads with arugula, baby kale, lettuce and herbs from the garden. Journeys to the market also bring more fresh fruit, salad greens and cooking greens such as amaranth, lamb’s quarter, chards and rapini.
We enjoy creating restorative spaces for people. Through both aesthetic and practical design, a home can be a lifestyle facilitator as well as an integral source of happiness. Nesting tendencies are natural and inherent, but a home can be much more than that. When designing a living space, the approach is two-pronged.
First, we find nourishment and revitalization through food and social interaction as results of making the kitchen as the center of a household. Good food and how it is shared is fundamental to every cultural tradition and a primary marker for discovering quality in life. Ancillary facilities such as dining areas and kitchen gardens play supportive roles. Altogether, the kitchen, dining areas (indoor and outdoor) and culinary gardens can facilitate health and well being. Not only by making food preparation and serving it easier, but also by inspiring one to cook and entertain. Home cooking was a victim of a modernized of society. For a number of reasons, which we will not delve into presently, it was left out of the mix, thus opening the doors to replacements such as fast food and similar culinary atrocities. The current movement to re-introduce cooking into every home is a symptom of advancement in society with increasing awareness of the importance role food plays in physical, mental and spiritual well being.
My Greek grandparents used to tell stories of Nastradin Hotsas, the Turkish fool who cleverly tried to take the easy road in life. One such story, which parallels modern food issues, had Mr. Hotsas training his donkey not to eat, so he could save money. One day, just as they reached the top of the hill, the donkey dropped dead. Mr. Hotsas exclaimed with exasperation: “Just when he was successfully trained to not eat, he dies!”
The second focus is on rejuvenation. These areas of the house are bedroom suites, entertainment and exercise rooms. Fueled by restorative food and sharing with friends, these spaces help to recharge and tone daily life.
Addressing the overt and subtle functionality of these areas is 90 % of the design. Most of what remains are storage and infrastructure. Lately, even once utilitarian rooms have become rejuvenating areas. Basements have workout rooms, family rooms, play rooms and home theater. Even the garage has become an entertainment area utilized for hobbies and toys, for both man and child. Every part of a house plays a role in cycles of nourishment and regeneration. When exiting to the outside would, one should feel satiated, refreshed and ready to take on what the world has to dish out.