FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Julia's Kitchen by Design

Floor plan of Julia Child's kitchen

Floor plan of Julia Child's kitchen

Julia and Paul Child developed this kitchen layout when they moved into their home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1961. They had been living abroad for more than a decade due to Paul’s work as a cultural attaché with the United States Information Service. After living in Paris, Marseilles, Germany, and Norway, Julia and Paul were ready to set up a kitchen of their own.

A Place for Everything

A Place for Everything

While kitchens of the 1950s and 1960s were often designed to keep everything hidden from view, Julia and Paul preferred to hang their pots and pans on a pegboard for quick and easy access. Nor would there be any confusion about where that pan belonged after it had been used, thanks to the outlines Paul traced on the pegboard. Later, for the benefit of student and guest cooks working in the kitchen with Julia, snapshots were added.

Work zones

Work zones

Julia organized her kitchen around work zones, making sure tools and equipment were placed near the surfaces where they would be used. Her pots, pans, and utensils are near the stove, her knives are near the sink, and her small appliances are set on solid work surfaces, ready to use.

Julia towering over the stove in her Paris apartment, 1948

Julia towering over the stove in her Paris apartment, 1948

To accommodate Julia’s height of six feet, three inches, the solid maple counters in her Cambridge kitchen are thirty-two inches high, two inches taller than standard kitchen counters.

Photo by Paul Child. Courtesy of Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.