This past Thanksgiving with friends gathered in the kitchen, sipping champagne as we put the finishing touches on a concertedly healthy menu, I realized that I had one more thing for which to be thankful — the 18th century, French fruitwood armoire around which our entire kitchen was designed.
The armoire has special meaning beyond just its good looks and serviceability. My mother gave it to us, from her home, in one of the most gracious of gestures from one who made them often; shared with the lovingly wise statement that she’d rather see us enjoy it in her lifetime than pass it along after she was “dearly departed” (in her own words.)
The armoire had its star turn in my first book Private Newport: At Home and in the Garden, published just a few years after we moved into our newly-built home. As you can see, other than the kitchen island, it is the only piece of furniture in the room.
Everyday, I marvel at how such a grand piece can prove so practical. And who knew how much this 7 1/2 foot tall armoire could hold, taking the place of what would normally have been walls of cabinets. Preferring the “kitchen” to look more like an 18th century room, I had early into our building plans eschewed cabinets. Good decision! Now there’s only one place to go for all our daily dining needs.
I love everything about it…the wonderful old hinges, key plate and lock…even the slightly bowed 18th century doors. It’s just handsome enough, but not too dressy or formal in appearance.
And our wonderful carpenter was able to guarantee its serviceability by replacing the original shelves with 1 1/4 inch thick, solid mahogany shelves that never sag.
He even replaced the very bottom shelf which holds heavy serving and cooking pieces.
The “bonnet” was also reinforced to facilitate large wine jars and seasonal greenery decorations arranged in an antique leather-sided basket.
And here it stands today in our kitchen, the heart and soul of every home, looking upon the happy times and many friends that are part of our life.
Have a look and then give it a thought as an alternative to walls of cabinets that necessitate always moving around the kitchen. Again, who knew?