I love my kitchen. Apparently, I shouldn’t. In an age obsessed with stainless steel on which to showcase finger-prints and granite in which to grow germs, I like my scour-able white appliances and solid-surface counter-tops. I like that I can stir a pot while I stick my hand in the fridge or the sink. Old-timers called this a work triangle.
Most of all, I love the crisp and clean, blue and white color scheme. I first absorbed this aesthetic in European kitchens during my youthful escapades as a faculty brat. If you watch HGTV today, you hear endless banter about Tuscan oranges. I think they might make a lovely breakfast treat, but from Delft to Delphi, the juxtaposition of deep blue and bright white means food cooked with care.
In my first years of married life, I couldn’t craft my own kitchen. We moved from drab grad apartments to stainless steel suburbia in turn, but neither satiated my desire for crisp flow-blue beauty. Fortunately, my mate shares my love for the early modern and our wedding china brought a bit of Delft to our domestic bliss.
My thirst for blue was finally quenched when be bought our current house. The sellers had painted the dining room a perfect blue with white wainscoting as if they had my china in mind. The kitchen by contrast contained broken appliances and grease-coated cupboards. We ripped it all out, and I had tablue rasa (sorry couldn’t help myself).
I picked my dream appliances. My desires? A typical trans-Atlantic pastiche: American-style fridge with extra wide shelves and ice-maker; European-style stove/oven combo with a small oven on top, which uses less energy and heats up fast; double recessed stainless-steel sink (this I can scour) with the all important garbage disposal. Then came the delight of choosing contrasting blue counters and floor tile. The pièce de résistance? The hand-painted Delft-style tile for the back-splash. Why Delft-style not true Delft? Because we found a wonderful local artist who individually painted and fired images like the boy and his dog shown just to the left of the stove and over my son’s towhead.
Chevalier’s prose and Peter Webber‘s cinematography intentionally evoke Vermeer’s paintings of his home town, Delft, and its domestic interiors, decked with its namesake tiles. Click on Vermeer’s classic, “The Milkmaid.” You will read not only of the Delft tiles forming the baseboard, but also of the lengths the master went to make the perfect blue apron. Chevalier’s book and Webber’s film both depict the precision and passion with which Vermeer pursued color.
Beauty in the basics: meals and maids, bread and milk, blue and white.
Thus, I have no plans to ‘update’ my kitchen with appliances named for Nordic hoards or counters cut from Mediterranean hillsides. This historian may, however, go into my ‘outdated’ kitchen and pour a glass of wine before I put in my beloved DVD about a master, a maid, a pearl, and the perfect blue.