Finnish vs American Kitchens


While I can’t say that our current kitchen is my favorite kitchen ever, it does have a couple of features that I don’t know that I could live without going forward. So let’s talk about Finnish vs American kitchens, with the caveat that there are no universal truths.

The first feature that’s pretty much the standard in every Finnish kitchen is the drying cabinet. When you hand wash your dishes in the United States, you usually have a rack to put them in. It either sits on the counter next to the sink or, if you have a double sink, inside the sink. In Finland, the drying rack is built into a cabinet above the sink. The bottom shelf is that rack. You wash the dishes and put them up. They can drip-dry I into the sink. Then you can close the cabinet and everything look neat and tidy.

Part of the reason for this, I suspect, is that Finnish kitchens are relatively small. When I had a McMansion, that kitchen was literally half the size of the one-bedroom apartment we live in now. It was ridiculously huge. The cooker (stove, oven, whatever) is about half the size of the average American appliance, as is the fridge. You adapt and get used to it.

The other thing that I give thanks for regularly is that the drain pipes are larger. Wider. Higher capacity. There are no garbage disposals, because you are required to recycle your biowaste, so I can stuff leftover food down there. But I don’t have to worry the pour coffee ground from the French press down the drain is going to cause a clog. A fleck of cabbage or bit of mashed potato rinsed off a plat isn’t going to create a major problem. Why are American pipes so damned small?

Finnish vs American Kitchens

While there are kitchen spaces that are quite similar to American kitchens, I have noticed a few things. In many apartments, including this one, you enter through the kitchen. A lot of Americans find that weird, because they want to create a first impression. A kitchen isn’t the fanciest space to show your guests. I’ve also noticed many apartments have the kitchen in a room with a door. With the door closed, it could be mistaken for another bedroom. More modern houses have the kitchen and living room together as a great room, similar to a lot of American homes.

What I don’t like about our current kitchen is that is doubles as the dining area. It’s a bit small for that.  The reality is that we don’t have a dining area, because that corner of the kitchen is now my office. I sit with my back to the fridge. We eat in the living room. That’s more of an “I need an office” problem than a kitchen issue, though.

As with most things, I find Finnish kitchens to be elegantly utilitarian. The decor is simple, clean lines and not a lot of clutter. It’s a place to make food, so it doesn’t have to be fancy. There seems to be more attention paid to work flow, easy of cleaning, and getting the most out of the space than trying to flex your socioeconomic status.

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