Daniel and I have shared five kitchens together. There was the one in Brazil that had a big pantry, a bathroom, a laundry machine and hanging contrapment to dry our clothes.
I used to make homemade tortillas there and Daniel would always squeeze all sorts of fresh juice (orange and carrot, or just plain pineapple were favorites).
In our first Brooklyn kitchen, we had white cabinets, a speck of counter space, a flowery backsplash and a crew of devilish cockroaches that I've tried hard to forget.
All our apartments in NY have been small and the one we just left in Cobble Hill was no exception.
Its saving grace?
A dining table that could seat 8 (the perfect place for prepping big meals), and a backyard with roses, hydrangeas, and even a lilac tree. We cooked and ate outdoors as much as possible the three years we lived there.
I have fond memories of these kitchens and the other ones we've shared and still, the one in our new apartment, the one we've only cooked in for a few months, is without a doubt, the best. Not just because it feels spacious (it can fit at least four people comfortably!), or because it has a dishwasher (something the four before it did not), but because we designed it ourselves.
When we first looked at this apartment, on a frigid day in February, the entire place was a dump. Still, something about the space spoke to us. There were snow-covered trees outside the windows and a pretty view of Prospect Park. And after spending three years in a dark ground-floor apartment, the natural light drew us in.
A gut renovation was a must, so we dove in headfirst. Daniel, the handiest man I've ever met, handled logistics. He drew up plans, ran them by our co-op board, and worked alongside our contractor installing stuff. I focused on paint colors, fixtures, countertops, and flooring. I read and re-read every issue of Domino magazine and filled a binder with ideas. I made decisions. Changed my mind a lot. Obsessed over each and every detail. It was exhausting and educational. Stressful, but fun.
(Daniel will say I'm crazy, but I'd definitely do it again).
A few days ago, we hit the three-month mark and it finally feels like home. We both love waking up in our bedroom.
The walls are a soft sky-blue and a hanging lantern we bought in Morocco casts the most calming glow. In the second bedroom, our desk faces a window that looks out on the park. There couldn't be a better place to sit and type. The bathroom is small, even by NY standards, but with a high ceiling and natural stone floor, it feels like a mini spa.
And then there's our lovely kitchen. Here's what it looked like before.
And, now ta da! Here it is post-renovation.
We knocked down a wall to open it up and added in some much needed counter space. When friends used to come over to our other apartments, I hated being unable to interact with them while I cooked. Now, they pull up a stool and and chat while I chop.
There's even a window, right next to the stove. To help spruce up the view (it looks out on a dingy courtyard) Daniel filled a window box with fresh herbs.
When I made a summery salad the other night with tomatoes and the most delicious melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella, I didn't need to run to the store for basil. I just opened the window and a plucked a few pieces.
For cabinets, we compared prices at Ikea, Cabinet Fair and Home Depot, before finally settling on Lowes. Long story short, the whole process was painful and I hope to never shop there again. What's important is that they're all finally in! Thirteen cavernous cabinets.
There's one full of glasses and plates. Another for vinegars and spices. Skinny ones for cookie sheets and cooling racks, and we packed a few with toilet paper.
Two deep drawers hold my arsenal of pots and pans and a set of rolling shelves keep pantry staples and tupperwares in place.
At first I really wanted a marble countertop. But after hearing how porous it is, I went with a a man-made quartz that looks close enough. White with the softest gray waves, it even fooled Daniel's Mom (a successful geologist) for a second. Perfect for a neat freak like myself, it shows every spot, streak and crumb. And just like marble, it's great for rolling out dough, too.
The walls are a bluish grey, and the hardwood floor resembles a dark cup of coffee. From the living room, the penny tiles on our backsplash seem to sparkle.
Close up, they just look glossy, and each one is a slightly different shade.
And I can hardly believe it myself, but for the first time in 8 years, we have a dishwasher! I told Daniel before we moved in that having one would surely change our lives, and it really has. We use it wisely (only when completely full, and we've found that the eco-wash works just fine), but already my lower back doesn't ache in quite the same way. All those years of hand-washing dishes really took their toll, I guess.
So safety issues aside, I'm still in love with our new place. Before we moved, I liked eating out a few nights a week. I often felt too tired or lazy to cook. These days, I can't wait to get home and hang out in my kitchen.
What do all of you love about your kitchens?