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Tuesday, June 30

Kitchen Love

I am preparing to move. I don't know when, or where, but I know I will leave the sweet home I shared with Richard.

As I winnow out books, keepsakes, collections housewares, clothes, shoes, accessories, and much of the stuff of life, I'm struck by how much I love my small, mighty kitchen. 

Lovers Kitchen looks out onto the back garden with a generous, well-placed window. It's often bathed in natural light. The sink is enormous. You can place the largest roasting pans in it flat down, with ample room to spare.

The beechwood counters are tall, installed to my specifications. The pot rack in the corner, holds all the essential pots and pans, with ample space underneath for everything from a radio/CD player, to dozens of oils, vinegars and spices.

The walls are the colour of butter, the only colour I ever want my kitchen to be.  There's a handmade white subway tile splash back. One tile says Lovers and a second says Kitchen. Three tiles sport rough hearts made with a sponge and ceramic paint.

Love hangs from the wall in red painted wrought iron. When I bought it it was beige. Who makes a heavy, iron love sign in beige? I bought it for £25 from a display window at Marks and Spencers.

Several years ago I paid £100 for four LED light bulbs. Soft white LED light is the only artificial light for me, besides fairy lights. I have dozens of strands of fairy lights in my house. It's the only way I survive the grayness of England. 

There's a small cramped pantry without much light. I'm forever employing the flashlight on my iPhone to rummage through all the stuff I stash in there.

My wonderful friend, New Zealander, Miss Fix It, built my kitchen in the summer of 2011, a couple of months after Richard died, when I was still crying my eyes out every single day.

Most of my kitchen accessories, pots, pans, decor are red. My mother always wanted a red and white kitchen, so I must have picked up that particular predilection from her.

There are of course plenty of hearts. I try not to over do them, but it's hard not to as everyone buys me heart hostess gifts when they come to dine.

Miss Fix It made me a super-duper sturdy step stool from the wood leftover from the counters. It weighs an absolute ton, but I adore it. It's the only step stool I ever felt secure standing on. 

We put racks with S-hooks everywhere so I can easily hang the things I use regularly like measuring cups, towels, pot holders, scissors, calendar, et al. It may sound like a small thing, but it makes a huge difference in the serviceability of the kitchen. 

When you really look at my 8 x 10 kitchen, you can see how well thought out it is. Every possible inch is used wisely. As a result, it's a happy place to cook. I'd take this kitchen over almost any other I've seen, including kitchens many times larger. I think this says a lot about the importance of designing a space for the way you live, entertain and work. 

I spent about £12K/$16K on my sweet kitchen. That excludes the hob, oven, fan, and fridge, which were all in place when we did the remodel. 

The single most expensive thing in the kitchen is the commercial sink. I wanted a thick white, Belfast style sink. And that's what I got, but it kept mysteriously cracking, so after returning the third one we had to source a sink that could fit in the space without too much reconstruction. That's how I got my £800/$1200 sink. And I don't even like stainless steel - but I do appreciate the size of that sink. 

If I could only customize one room in my house, there's no question it would be the kitchen, followed closely by the bathroom. I'm sure most people feel the same way. I can easily understand the appeal of designing and building your own home. Much as I love my kitchen, there's still plenty I dislike about it, starting with how removed it is from the rest of the house. I'm definitely an open plan, loft lover, light years away from the 1950's semi I've called home for over a decade.

It takes time, vision, passion, and yes money to make a home. I've a lot of ideas about my next one starting with the kitchen. It should have room for a huge round table for six, with built-in lazy susan and little underside drawers for each guest to reach into and fetch out a surprise.

What do you think are the most important features in a highly functional kitchen besides overall spaciousness and a generous budget? 

Here's My List

* Notes I'm lucky to have now

* Loads of natural light and soft white led lights in all the right places

Large open plan with plenty of room for six to spread out for dinner

* Built-in water filters for clean, tasty water

* Huge commercial sink with goose neck spray tap

Tall, thick white marble counters and plenty of 'em

Commercial Gas Range with big oven, six burners and a griddle

Two or three ovens

Thoughtfully designed walk-in pantry with ample smart storage and lighting

Open shelves and custom storage for everything from glassware and cutlery to pots and pans, wine, spices, books, and counter top appliances

Commercial Appliances: Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer with ice maker and water dispenser, garbage disposal, dishwasher, quiet, high functioning extractor fan

Commercial grade, easy clean flooring that hides all my spills

More than enough electrical outlets, including discreet charging station for phones, pads and computers

* Super sturdy pot rack and sturdy, custom made step stool

* Built-in wine, oil, vinegar, spice racks

Comfortable writing nook for computer, camera, books, et al.

Commercial Quality Kitchen Aid Mixer, Cuisinart Food Processor, Juicer, Blender, Cast Iron Pots and Pans

Pizza Oven (one can dream) 

Plenty of fresh air with door leading to private outside space

Views to garden, patio or anything beautiful

I've pulled together ideas for my dream Lovers Kitchen over at Houzz:

This album makes me appreciate what I really want is one enormous kitchen that's also the dining and living space. That's what what I respond to when looking at the hundreds of thousands of kitchen options on Houzz

Tulips. Did I mention Tulips? A kitchen must have fresh Tulips.