‘Barefoot Contessa’: Ina Garten Has a Unique Feature in Her Kitchen Workspace That’s So Smart

Ina Garten has designed a perfect kitchen that allows her to be her most creative and productive — and there’s one unique feature that makes the Barefoot Contessa star’s life so much easier. Garten explained in a 2009 interview why she prefers open shelves for some of her most used dinnerware.

Ina Garten smiles as she stands at the counter in her kitchen on Sunday Today with Willie Geist
Ina Garten | Mike Smith/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Ina Garten uses open shelves in her kitchen

Garten’s kitchen is designed for simplicity so she keeps things very organized, with features that contribute best for her workflow. While discussing her kitchen in a 2009 interview with House Beautiful magazine, the Barefoot Contessa star shared some of the highlights of her kitchen.

One area of interest is the open shelves that are on the back wall of the kitchen — instead of cabinets with doors. Garten finds this arrangement works best for her everyday dishes and glasses and makes it easy to unload the dishwasher and put things away.

“Another thing I have in the kitchen is where the plates and the glasses are stored are not on the same side as the dishwashers,” Garten explained. “They’re opposite the dishwashers.”

“So all I have to do is unload the dishwasher, turn around, and put it away,” Garten said. “If the dishes are stored on the same side, I’m always walking around the dishwasher to put it away and then coming back again.”

“All my kitchens have the storage right behind the dishwashers,” she said of the open shelves. “And obviously, there are Le Creuset things that you don’t use all the time and that could be in a pantry.”

“But the things I use every day are right behind me and where the dishwashers are so all I have to do is turn around,” she added.

Garten also has an open shelf above the range so that things like salt, pepper, and utensils are always within reach while cooking.


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Ina Garten prefers to keep her kitchen workspace small

Garten also discussed the perfect setup for a kitchen, explaining that she prefers to have a larger entertaining space in the kitchen but her actual workspace is small.

“I think the most important thing is that the workspace isn’t too big,” Garten explained. “That it’s a space that you can actually handle easily.”

“And the thing I think that people do wrong the most is that the workspace is out of the traffic area,” she added.

Garten’s kitchen workspace allows people to congregate on the other side of the counter without them interrupt her workflow.

“So that if there are people — you know kids and dogs and friends — and running back and forth, they’re not underfoot when I’m working,” she said of the traffic flow in her kitchen.

“Everybody can hang out [at the kitchen counter], they can hang out at the table, but my workspace between the island and the back counter are sort of sacrosanct,” Garten added. “Nobody moves around in there unless, of course, they’re cooking with me.”