I think a lot of people assume the kitchen of my dreams is large, especially since we do all of the photography in it. However, my kitchen is really small. When KMOV came out to do one of my segments in the kitchen, it was a push to get the lights and people in without falling all over each other. But it was fun.
When Mike and I were married, we lived in an apartment and a rented house before starting to look for our own house. It was during one of those times when banks weren’t excited about lending money to two young people just starting out. I remember Mike going to talk to our bank who turned us down. Mike told them we would withdraw everything and go to another bank if they could’t help us. What a threat – we didn’t have anything! Well, they must have figured someday we would because the gentleman came back with a piece of paper and gave it to Mike. On it was scribbled the name of a mortgage company down the street and an individual to see. After that, the loan sailed through with no problem and we stayed with that bank until they merged with another one. We were lucky enough to find a house that had been on the market for awhile and the owners were anxious to sell, as they were relocating. It was in a great area and we fell in love with it immediately, even though we knew it would take a lot of work inside. But we were up for the challenge – well at least I was!
At that time, I didn’t even realize how big a part the kitchen would play in my life. What I did know was that it was a disaster – made more so by the horrible wallpaper I chose. Tastes change and I couldn’t believe later in life I actually picked that paper. I think I have destroyed every photo of it! The kitchen was small and you could tell it didn’t play a large part when the house was built in 1929. After living in that kitchen, with the ugliest wallpaper in the world, for about ten years, we were finally in a position to do something with it.
What happened next, even I can’t believe. While we had a contractor, I acted as our designer. This worked well because we lived in it for so long, I knew what I didn’t like (everything!) and what I wanted (a lot). Having no skills in architecture, I came up with a unique method for determining where everything would fit. For sure, no architect would claim it. I literally put masking tape on the floor for each cabinet, the pantry, island, everything needed and everyone had to walk around it like the items were really the in place. It was a hoot! We did this for a while and, in the end, very few changes were needed.
Because the kitchen was built before standard sizing for cabinets was the norm, pre-made cabinets were out. I found a cabinet maker and had the cabinetry made of oak. My reasoning was if oak was used for wines and spirits and could withstand holding liquids, it would be a good match for a kitchen where moisture was present. It seemed to be a good choice since my kitchen is at least 35 years old.
as, by then, I was into my career and working on my first book, “The New Pastry Cook”. The marble top works well for pastry, but is also great as a background for the how-to photos on my blog and in my new book, “European Tarts, Divinely Doable Desserts with Little or No Baking”. The marble overhangs the back of the island so that a run-a-line was installed with multiple plugs so one is always available when I need it. A pull out shelf is available for multiple uses. It is also built to my height (short) so I don’t get tired standing and working at it for hours at a time. All the other countertops had to be higher to get standard sized equipment under them.
Since I didn’t have a lot of counterspace, I housed the microwave under the stove top. This space was originally designed to hold stock pots, but the microwave fit perfectly and kept if off my countertop. The shortest of spaces were turned into drawers where lids had their own home and cooling racks and baking sheets could be stored. I found a few inches under the microwave for a drawer to hold placemats.
Of necessity, there is a smaller than I would like refrigerator with a really small freezer in the kitchen. An additional freezer is in the basement.
In a previous post, I mentioned that I used every bit of vertical space I had. To this end, I designed the spice cabinet, which is my pride and joy. So much so, we had two made. One houses Videos and DVD’s in the den. It was made to fit onto a wall and is only five and one half inches deep so the spices can’t get lost as they did before in the pantry. It is six feet tall and 24 inches wide. Even though it is at the edge of a doorway, it doesn’t hinder in and out movement.
I should mention that the exterior of our house is Spanish looking with buff colored brick and a small balcony off the master bedroom. So we kept the theme on the interior also. I planned a lot of tile in the kitchen including a tile hood and a terra cotta floor. On the wall with the hood and oven, I finished it with a set of three lit stuccoed arches.
Storage was a main concern, since there never seems to be enough. A large pantry houses ingredients but as I became more and more interested in cooking, I seemed to need more and more room. The answer came when I closed the retail operation of my business. We had a small chrome rack in the shop that supported products we sold. I moved that into our back hall and it was perfect to store flours, sugars, chocolate and more in glass canisters where they could be easily seen. You will notice my insecurity about towels, either cloth or paper. I have this unfounded fear of running out and I have no idea why. So it gives me great pleasure to see stacks of them as I pass through a dozen times a day. All in all a great solution to solving a storage problem.
Because I knew I would be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, The tops of the cabinets were attractively finished and one houses the speakers for the stereo system that is piped into the kitchen so I can listen to music, a great love of mine. You can always tell how long I will be in the kitchen by what is playing. If it is a musical or an opera that means I’ll be working a long time. Single discs are for shorter stays.
Although small, I wouldn’t trade my kitchen. Everything is within a few steps and I can reach any utensil I need quickly. Mike recently put lights up for the photography that are out of the way and don’t have to be taken down when we are finished. All in all, it is the kitchen of my dreams.
So there you have a guided tour of the kitchen of my dreams. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.