When I was growing up, my dad’s kitchen was the place to be. Somehow, whether it was butter chicken or a zingy Goan prawn curry, every one of his secret family recipes started with onions, garlic and an inch of ginger root, finely sliced. I was always on chopping duty – I still am when Dad’s in town – and would carefully chop, dice and slice everything we’d bought at the shops that day, shaping them into miniature colourful, aromatic mounds on the kitchen counter, ready for the pan.
He’d have me punching dough for buttery chapattis, my arms still stained red from the tandoori paste I got to rub onto the chicken all by myself. Flouring the worktop for ‘potato chops’, our Goan version of a Swiss Rosti. Crumbling a quarter of an Oxo cube into the rice to give it a little more flavour. Stirring warm milk into our Ovaltine at bedtime… It was the 70s after all!
You get the picture. So many of my most wonderful memories from Dad’s house are overlaid with the smell of his cooking, and of me, him and my big brother in the tiny kitchen helping each other prepare the next meal.
Now here I am with kids of my own, and I can’t stop shooing them from my kitchen, even when they are being really cute (and freakishly organised when preparing to bake cookies). I hear myself saying: It’s dangerous. It’s small. Not while the stove is on. I’m in a hurry. You’ll poke your sister’s eye out. You’re over-stirring it. For heaven’s sake, don’t lick that.
When did I become such a nag? This year one of my many resolutions is to chill out and welcome the kids into the kitchen. Pass on some family recipes. Make it, as Dad’s was for me, the focal point of our home and of good times together.
Cheesy as it might sound, it was with this in mind that I went into the Magnet showroom last week.
My own Magnet kitchen still looks brand new even after 7 years, two kids and a million NCT coffee mornings, but some of the safety features have moved on, and I’m regretting having originally gone for the cheapest possible worktop… so time to go and have a nose around.
After I finished gawking at the gorgeous induction hobs and corian worktops, I grilled the store manager about functional child friendly kitchens.
Here are my favourite take-aways (pardon the terrible pun) from our session:
1 – You can sing along to Bon Jovi while cooking. Don’t try and pretend you don’t want to.
The new Sound Bar is superb. I know on the surface this has nothing to do with children, but don’t you remember how the radio was always on in the kitchen when you were little? At my mum’s it was always some Golden Oldies station, while at Dad’s we had one of the first CD players so usually talked him into putting The Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey” on repeat.
Rather than an old AM/FM with a dusty cord sitting on the counter, Magnet does a gorgeous integral vertical Bluetooth enabled speaker perfectly fitted between kitchen cabinets. It connects wirelessly to your iPhone or any other Bluetooth enabled device, so you can literally play anything you want in the kitchen. Heck, you can even listen to The Archers if that’s your thing. Lovely.
2 – You can make a great cup of tea without having to suffer through Grandma’s horror stories of scalded children every time you boil the water.
I love the ritual of making a cup of tea, but (much as I hate to admit it) the boiling water taps are excellent, and much safer. Firstly, you can do away with your kettle. Besides it being clutter free, it means you don’t have to worry about your child reaching up and pulling a just-boiled kettle onto themselves, like the scalded disfigured children in my friend’s mum’s tales. You don’t even need to worry about your eldest accidentally brushing against it and burning her arm when she reaches to get a bowl down for breakfast.
Second, they have a safety feature which makes it pretty much impossible to turn on boiling water by accident.
The model I saw (“Insinkerator”) had filters for the lovely London limescale, and a temperature control so you can set the default lower if you prefer hot lemon or green tea to builder’s.
3 – Fewer A&E visits for Danger Boy
The pop up knife stand made me want to redesign my entire kitchen. In ours, we’ve got knives stuck to a magnet on the wall, which seems quite safe until you find yourself in the kitchen with a 5 year old boy whose many A&E visits (2 so far this year!) once earned him the moniker of Danger Boy.
Unless you pop it up to get a knife, Magnet’s knife stand fits smoothly into the worktop, completely hidden away from inquisitive little hands.
4 – And no more fingers in plugs!
Along the same lines as the knife stand, they have a pop-up socket – essentially a vertical power bar that drops down into the worktop, keeping the plugs and sockets safely tucked away. Nice.
5 – My kitchen could be safe to race through dressed as an elephant
Choosing a kitchen you should think about kitchen traffic. I don’t mean the magic fridge-stove-sink triangle, I mean the sheer volume of traffic and chaos tromping past cupboard doors, cabinet corners and the like.
Before kids, I spent very little time in the kitchen, and when I did I wasn’t racing through dressed as an elephant, or being dragged through on a blanket by my big sister, or clambering up onto the cabinets. You don’t have to be neurotic about it, but if you want to make the kitchen a bit smoother, safer and more impervious to boisterous little rascals, then Magnet’s got everything you need.
Actually I ended up spending over an hour in the show room, and there are a dozen more things I could recommend. My top tip is to spend some time thinking about what you want your kitchen to be to your family. Not how you want it to look, but how you imagine your time there.
Is it a calm, cool place where you and your daughter are rolling out pastry dough on a cold stone worktop and singing along to the radio? Or a fun but chaotic zone with toddlers covering every surface in butter while they ‘help’ make sandwiches? Or, like me, will you be back on Chopping Duty, helping Dad pass on his family recipes?
Once you’ve got a picture in your head, go and have a chat with one of the guys at a Magnet showroom, and they’ll take care of the rest.
Magnet provides a flexible full circle service that includes a smart design service, a 15 year cabinet guarantee, free home survey and the unique Smart Care service. The Sound Bar system is a system that can not only be incorporated into the Integra Astral Grey kitchen, it can also be fitted with many other Magnet kitchens.
To find out more about Magnet’s range of kitchens or to locate your nearest store, visit www.magnet.co.uk
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Magnet via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Magnet.