Category Archives: Kitchen transformation

The heart of our home

Earlier this week, Mrs G. asked her blog friends to join her in throwing a blog open house. She wrote, “Reader, what is the heart of your home? What room in your house makes you breathe easier — makes you feel genuinely content?”

The heart of our home, for me, is the kitchen that I designed for our 1908 house. As an architect, I spend my days (and some nights) designing homes in which other people will live. This kitchen is only the second room that I’ve created to be just the way that Paul and I wanted it. We gutted the entire room, down to the studs, and then put it back together (with the help of a very skilled contractor). A mix of modern and traditional, hard edges and soft detail, black & white and vivid color, it’s the room in which I feel most comfortable, most myself, most at home.

kitchen looking right

In our kitchen, I am surrounded by reminders of people I love, and who love us: the dishes and cookware we received as wedding presents, my grandmother’s Fiestaware, the kitchen elf brought by a friend shortly after Paul’s cancer surgery, the cheery sunflower plate that my parents brought us from Italy.

bookshelvesTucked into a corner, between the door to the living room and the opening to the breakfast nook/back door, is one of my favorite bits of the kitchen. This bookshelf now holds most of our cookbooks. The little countertop was intended to be a place for the telephone, cell phone chargers, note pads and pens. In reality, it also collects all the pennies and little scraps of paper that follow us home. It’s also where we keep one of the most well-used tools in our house: the cat hair roller.

The long, sometimes funny story of our long, sometimes painful kitchen remodel was blogged and photographed in agonizing detail. I’m thrilled with the results (as long as I ignore the bits of tiling and painting we haven’t yet finished), and am thankful on a daily basis that we have this warm, beautiful space in which to cook and eat, hang out with family and friends, sit at our little table and look out at the world back yard.

kitchen looking left

Sergei likes the kitchen, too, especially when there are carrots fresh from the farmers market with their lovely, frilly tops sitting on the counter. (Bad kitty! You know better than to do that when we have company!)

Bad Sergei, caught in the act!

Kitchen Transformation: The proof is in the cooking

kitchen done

One year ago, we were days away from moving in to our remodeled kitchen. We’ve cooked in the new kitchen for almost a year now, and for those of you who are interested (or who have gotten here by Googling “black granite countertops” or “subway tile backsplash”), here are a few thoughts on the process and products that went into our kitchen:

  1. Getting rid of the 4th door into the kitchen was the right thing to do. We rarely used it, and I don’t miss it at all. And the small hall closet we created where the door had been is, as you might expect, very useful. It took months for me to learn, but now, when I can’t find the jacket I was wearing the previous day, I look in the hall closet. Usually, Paul has hung it up for me. (Thanks, sweetie!)
  2. The honed black granite countertops are wonderful. They have been easy to keep clean, and we haven’t had problems with staining. (This is not to say that there are no stains; Paul noticed a couple of dime-sized stains last week. I think that means it’s time to seal the countertops again.) Unexpected bonus: the dark gray, matte surface is a great backdrop for food photos.
  3. That sunny yellow linoleum floor is a thing of beauty… when it’s clean. Unfortunately, keeping it clean has proven time-consuming, as we track in dirt and water through the back door. The floor is overdue for sealing, which should keep it looking better between moppings.
  4. Exhaust fans are good. (I say this not only as a cook, but as an architect who knows how badly water vapor can damage a house.) Our ‘before’ kitchen had no exhaust fan, and serious wintertime cooking was certain to fog the windows. Our variable speed range hood can handle any amount of steam we manage to create. Unexpected bonus (I think): anyone who parks in our driveway while the exhaust fan is running can tell what’s cooking for dinner.
  5. Everyone should have a bookshelf in their kitchen. Enough said.
  6. Cooking with gas is just as great as I remembered it… even better, in fact, with a really nice stove.

By the way, this is our kitchen a year ago, before we moved in. Photos of the lived-in kitchen to follow, later this month.