The kitchen. The place I go to clear my head, relax and make things that taste good. When we first moved into this house, the kitchen had recently been remodeled by the owner. Although it was "decent", because it was new and unlike the old, grimy kitchens we had seen while house hunting, it was never something I would have chosen and was definitely done on the cheap. The kitchen is also small, incredibly small. Over the years, we've daydreamed about breaking down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room or bulldozing the back wall dividing the kitchen and the yard to extend outward. As clearly as I could envision it all, the time wasn't right to justify the cost. This past August, I reached my breaking point. I was sick of returning from picking up a week's worth of groceries only to have produce strewn around the counter, monopolizing every inch of my tiny work space. I thought about adding a shelf above my sink to rest between the cabinets, this would serve as a place to keep my fruits and vegetables above the counter and give me back that valuable real estate. I searched everywhere for what I imagined and found nothing. Neither Google or Pinterest were able to put me on the scent of this imaginary shelf I had engineered with my right brain. My last stop was IKEA, I was desperate but aware that they pretty much carried any oddball thing you could ever need, surely they'd have this. On an early Saturday morning, in this giant blue and yellow warehouse, I stood defeated once again. I had given up hope and decided to spend some time in their kitchen section wandering through the vignettes. It was during that time something piqued my interest...a counter top. This sexy, white modern quartz counter top flecked with bits of gray had stolen my heart. And that one lust, kick started the whole makeover. I instantly stopped thinking about the shelf and thought about a mini facelift that would allow me to incorporate small custom touches for practicality and efficiency, and above all, something my style. A make over that would completely change the space without breaking down walls.
We never did go with the IKEA quartz counter top, but instead found one almost identical and a lot more solid, at Home Depot. The obvious start was appliance shopping. Unfortunately, gas isn't available in my neighborhood, which really bugs me. That being said, I wanted to get one of the best possible options I could for a home kitchen running electric. We went with GE Cafe Appliances, their restaurant inspired series. I campaigned heavily for a Viking stove at the very least but internal voices wouldn't allow it. I've had these appliances now almost three months and I absolutely adore them. The stove functions as a double oven. Where you'd typically find a warming drawer, this one has its own dedicated knob and heats up to 400 degrees. Although the lower oven is smaller, it's perfect for almost anything except large roasts of course. The refrigerator is one of my favorite pieces in the kitchen. It was like graduating from a cramped, one bedroom apartment to a sprawling three bedroom house! Double doors open at eye level with a massive, smooth rolling two tier freezer down below.
In addition to the appliances, perhaps the biggest change was over the stove. Formerly, there was a stove, a microwave above it and a set of cabinets above that. For six years, I've never gone into those cabinets and I rarely used that microwave. It made sense to gut those pieces and install a high powered range for proper ventilation. The microwave circulated air within the interior of the house, so that meant any steak or chop searing would remain in the house for days. Not good. Beyond the addition of the hood, we also chose to tile that entire back wall for easy cleaning and overall aesthetics. There used to be useless nook above the window and that too was removed.
It's amazing how much larger the space feels without these extra elements weighing down that wall. I love the tiny shelf over the stove top holding my must haves.
Last but not least, the old double porcelain sink was eighty-sixed in favor of a single, deep stainless steel Vigo sink with a custom Perrin & Rowe faucet. I first fell in love with this line while reading the Kitchens We Love issue of Dwell. I had a hard time keeping in line with the budget on this one. It was more than we wanted to spend but worth every penny. We must have looked at hundreds of others but we kept coming back to this one. Nothing else compared, nothing else seemed right. We ended up waiting over a month for it to arrive from back order. There were times I got antsy and almost settled for another but I channeled my patient gene deep within and fortunately found it.
Of course, just above the sink, is the shelf that started it all. Except, this shelf was never found in a store. We had a slab of Balinese, salvaged teak wood from Indonesia by way of Washburn Imports and we knew that would be a unique feature that could work as a shelf. During my initial research I had come across these industrial brackets from Restoration Hardware, the idea of this old, textured slab of wood sitting over these raw metal rods sounded like a smart contrast. So, we had them installed behind the new back splash and this beautiful Indonesian plank, lays perfectly over the brackets and securely holds the produce in the exact way I had hoped.
I shopped for one specific thing and found inspiration in another. I've never been happier to cook in this tiny kitchen and this designer upgrade was long overdue. Happy that shelf never existed.