Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Witchy Women in the Kitchen

[Screengrabs from Practical Magic 1998. Production design by Robin Standefer.]

When it comes to kitchens in film, the set seen in 2003's Something's Gotta Give has become one of the most talked about in recent years, but I've always thought of Practical Magic's natural light-filled kitchen with adjacent greenhouse as a delight for the Anthropologie crowd.

[Aidan Quinn and Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic.

Starring Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest as descendants of a long line of witches (yeah, it was the 1990s), Practical Magic is set in a small coastal Massachusetts town. However, the movie was actually filmed in Washington state. Home base is not a 17th-century dwelling or anything suggesting old Salem, but instead a late Victorian -- what appears to be an "American Queen Anne" by the sea. While the off-kilter, eccentric nature of the architecture suits the characters, the rooms are styled to come across as enchanted rather than spooky, with the kitchen and gardens being the most conventional spaces.

[Production design by Robin Standefer.]

Ask me about the kitchen's appliances and I'll draw a blank. The counters?  I think creamy marble but I'm not absolutely certain. Take the expansive room apart piece by piece and I'll tell you which elements I'd never choose for myself. With this kitchen, it's the overall ambiance that is so memorable. It's all about the sunlight streaming through the wavy old glass, the never-ending loosely arranged fresh flowers, the messy pancake batter, the beams overhead and the abundance of copper pots and pretty plates. Again, I have to reference Mary Randolph Carter because the mood is in keeping with her concept of the imperfect house.

[Copper bowl for egg whites available at The Cook's Warehouse.]

 [©A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life by Mary Randolph Carter, Rizzoli New York, 2010.]

[Large handmade English/Raj copper pot, early 20th century, available through Bittersweet Interiors.]

[In Practical Magic, brownies are for breakfast. Ina Garten's brownies via Food Network.]

[Screengrabs from Practical Magic 1998. Production design by Robin Standefer. Click to enlarge.]

As welcoming as the kitchen is, though, I think it's the connected greenhouse that steals the show.

Bullock's character is highly skilled with botanicals and, in a very 90s twist, opens a little boutique in town to sell plant-based shampoos, lotions and assorted bath products.

[Plant-based foaming cleanser via Anthropologie.]

What a luxury it would be to have a functioning room like this right off the kitchen. In the movie, tall branches have been styled to twist up against the glass in an ethereal way, and terra cotta pots and glass cloches cover the work surfaces. It's girl-centric set design with a rustic edge.

To learn about architecture original to Salem, Massachusetts, click here.

BTW: If you do find yourself in Salem, don't forget the Peabody Essex Museum is located there too. And another reminder, Carter is scheduled to visit Anthropologie in Richmond, Virginia (9200 Stony Point Parkway #139) on Saturday, October 30th from noon to 3 p.m. Happy Halloween!

Practical Magic production design by Robin Standefer of Roman and Williams.

Related past post: Botanicals of Maria Sibylla Merian.


La Maison Fou said...

I love that movie, thanks for the recap! Worth watching this Halloween.

Style Court said...

Leslie --

It gives me 90s nostalgia every time :) And I do try to figure out that greenhouse better with each viewing. So curious to know how much was part of original house.

Karena said...

Now I will have to watch it again to take more in! I loved it the first time.

The Antique English Copper Pot is amazing.

Art by Karena

Laura Casey Interiors said...

Loved reading about The House of Seven Gables- fascinating! Thanks for the link, you know I love anything and everything related to architecture.

Style Court said...

Laura --

You checked out the 7 Gables link! I'm so glad. I'd love to see you do a reinterpretation of the Owens's kitchen (the movie kitchen).

Style Court said...

Karena -- I had to throw in some antique copper. Glad you like it.

quintessence said...

What a fun creative post. I haven't seen this movie in years - clearly going to have to rent it this weekend! And my Mary Randolph Carter book is on order.

Style Court said...

Q --

Hope you enjoy it. It's light entertainment but the cast keeps it smart and funny. Worth it just to see all the flowers :)

Andrew said...

The production designer of this film, Robin Standefer, is now an interior designer. She and her husband founded Roman and Williams, which is pretty much the hottest design firm right now.

Style Court said...

Thanks so much Andrew. Links have just been updated.

Sarah said...

Interesting post, though I have never seen Practical Magic...I will have to now! I visited the Peabody Essex Museum about 2 years ago when they had a Samuel McIntyre exhibit...he was the architect of many of Salem's homes and did magnificent wood carving. He is a must for architect lovers...especially in the east coast style.

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

wonderfully produced by you as well. and the hand of R & W is written all over that movie-now that I know. great post Courtney. pgt

Style Court said...

Thanks Gaye!

Style Court said...

Sarah -- Sounds like a fascinating exhibition. Happy Halloween!

CarolAnne - camdesign said...

love all of Sandra's movies but this one is one of my fav's ... thanks that was a great post. x

Style Court said...

Cam -- so glad you enjoyed it.