Our kitchen, sweet lord, was it ugly when we bought our house seven years ago. The first major offense: carpet. Why would anyone dream of using carpet in a kitchen or a bathroom? The most humid, messy rooms in the house and you want to layer the floor with an absorbent, nearly impossible to clean covering? And it was hideous 1970's carpet, dark blue, brown, green, in some kind of strange optical illusion bad MC Escher pattern.
Just as an example of how idiotic carpet is in a kitchen, here is a list of things spilled on this floor in the last seven years: shattered glasses and dishes, blood, leaves, mud, poop, pee and puke (all from the dog, I promise,) a entire bottle of vanilla extract, ice, snow, dog food, a entire pitcher of frozen, half-blended margaritas, dropped peanut butter side down 1/2 of English muffin, one butter covered knife, a head of lettuce, the inside guts of a cantaloupe, 1 tablespoon flour, and enough crumbs to fill Royals Stadium. Would you want to clean all of these up off of carpet? Yikes.
Dirty, ugly, drab, the kitchen had a layer of grease on the back splash that made the beige tile and grout a full shade darker. The old dingy fruit wallpaper border, the brass handles on the dry oak cabinets, the bland fake wood counters were at least in good shape, and that beige back splash again, dull. But there were lots of positives: the work triangle with the stove, sink and fridge were good, plenty of counter space and lots and lots of cabinets, a big window over the sink facing the woodsy backyard, and a large pass through into the living room. Brand new dishwasher, stainless steel sink, workable stove and nice wide white blinds, not bad.
The window and the pass through make sure that the kitchen is open and bright. Our whole main living area is wide open, entry way into living room into small dining room right into kitchen, there's really no separation. And it makes the small space work for us. But that kitchen needed some serious work. We started with the floor. Within the first six months that we had moved in, Joe installed some beautiful ceramic tile in a gray/beige, with a dark gray grout. It hides everything, is easy to clean and made the kitchen look so much larger and brighter. And we tore down the fruit border, we had to. It was sad and needed to be put out of its misery. But then we kind of got stagnant.
Finally, two years ago we decided to paint the cabinets and it made a enormous difference. Huge! I feel like we got a new kitchen. We traded out the old brass handles and hinges for some inexpensive but nice silver ones from Ikea. We took nearly six weekends and many nights after work to sand, prime and paint the cabinets and it was absolutely worth the time.
Lots of bright accessories, lots of stainless steel tools, stacks of cookbooks, little things like hanging racks and built in microwave cabinets make it a functional and fun kitchen. We spend a lot of time here. And you can watch TV while your cooking, thank god for that pass through.
Our kitchen is filled with Oxo kitchen tools (Joe is a touch obsessed with them,) Fiestaware dishes and accessories, one of my favorite tools is right below there, an Alton Brown salt cellar that Joe got me for Christmas a couple of year ago. Grabbing a pinch of kosher salt out of that little cellar and sprinkling it into my cooking always makes me feel like a professional. It's the little things.
I love our kitchen. The warm, striped rug, the refrigerator covered in old postcards and magnets from our travels and poetry tiles and recipes and of course Oxo mini kitchen tool magnets. I love our hanging pot rack, bright red tea pot and yellow pitcher, our shiny red Fiestaware butter dish, and that hefty knife block.
Our kitchen isn't perfect. For some reason my rosemary plant is not thriving in here. I blame the kitchen. We still have the boring fake wood counter tops but they are innocuous and in good condition. And that bland beige back splash, it's clean now and cleaned frequently. But it's still boring. I'm just pretty sure that we'll never get around to changing either one. It's just not a priority, and our desire to move in the next couple of years keeps us from wanting to do anything major to this house.
I think we'll save our creative makeover skills for the next house. That dream house with some glass front cabinets, a huge island, gas stove, big fridge and a perfect upright space for cookie sheets. I want one of those. But this is our first kitchen in our first house together, and it will always be a warm, festive space. We've cooked Italian feasts, perfect Caesar salads, basic grilled cheese sandwiches, birthday cakes, it's a place filled with celebrations, sustenance and solace. All this kitchen talk, I think I need to get cooking.
What's your favorite thing about your kitchen?
Photos by me, except that great one right up there which is by the equally colorful Joe Sands.