A guide to Dutch housing: kitchens

Dutch kitchen feature a shower. But the oven is kept in the bedroom. Of course, why not?

It’s party-time at your place. Your guests ask you questions throughout the night. ‘Where can I hang my coat?’ ‘Where shall I put my shoes?’ ‘Where can I wash my hands?’ ‘Where can I go if I want to feel better about my place?’ ‘Can you tell me where the toilet is?’ ‘Where the fodder is your shower?’ These are all questions that could easily be met with the same answer here in Groningen: ‘You remember where the kitchen is? Yeah, in there.’

That’s right. Our definitive guide to Dutch housing begins in perhaps the most loved, most hated, most complicated, torturous, and vital part of the house: the kitchen, or the keuken, in Dutch.

Most Dutch houses that I’ve visited sport the inviting ‘L-shaped’ open-plan kitchen that leads neatly into the lounge. Okay, sure, it feels more spacious, but this space counts for nothing when the claustrophobia of cooking for an audience kicks in as your guests watch you fret, cry, and spurn; hear you swear, sigh, and yearn; and smell you sweat, fry, and burn in plain sight from the close comfort of the lounge.

Yeah, I’m cooking and entertaining my guests with engaging, spontaneous conversation, you think. But really, you’re just talking to yourself, because they’re busy communicating amongst themselves through carefully coordinated eye movements, continuously commenting on the culinary catastrophe unfolding before them. Under such pressure, there’s little margarine for error (!).

Worse yet, the kitchen is perhaps the one area of the house that you don’t want your guests to see, with the piles of dirty dishes, wine-stained glasses, and mounds of empty cereal packets: so why open it up for your guests to dissect? It’s like a ghastly cinematic experiment. Now showing: ‘Hell’s Kitchen Live: Half Baked.’

Yet, the L-shaped kitchen does not out-WTF (a phrase I’m certain will catch on soon) our Dutch-designed kitchen, which, handily, features a shower. Yes, we have a shower in our kitchen (complete with shower curtain, too!). I suppose the Dutch like to additionally cook their sausages whilst they wash their own.

This section of the Dutch house, however, is perhaps better known by Internationals as the site of the neuken… for the neuken in de keuken? No? Let’s just say it adds a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘beating eggs.’

One thing to remember: the Dutch don’t keep their oven in the kitchen… they’re kept in the bedrooms.