Come inside my kitchen

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?

Site Meter


Anita (Married... with dinner) said...

How exciting! It's gorgeous ...and obviously a huge improvement over the 'before' picture. :D

We finished our own kitchen remodel a few months ago, and now I actually have to plan to end up in a restaurant; we don't avoid going home after work anymore.

I hope you enjoy many wonderful meals in your great new space.

Anonymous said...

Lia this is amazing! I love the before and after pictures...you and Daniel are such a team. I want to see more...


Anonymous said...

hello, i googled grey penny tile and found your blog! your kitchen is lovely and i'd love to know where you got your tile. also, if you were happy with your contractor, i'd love a recommendation. i live in greenpoint and am done with demo, just need to find the right contractor and the right price for the penny tile. any input would be greatly appreciated. love your blog!

Lia said...

Anita: A huge improvement indeed. We didn't take enough before pictures, but believe me, the kitchen was scary. I hope you have many wonderful meals in your new cooking space too!

Kellie: Thanks so much! The next time you're in NY, you have to come over for dinner.

Anonymous: We bought our penny tiles (and all the tiles we used for our bathroom, too) at Nemo Tile on 21st and Park in Manhattan. They have a great selection of penny tiles, and if I remember correctly they do have grey ones. They also have stainless steel, but I remember those being a bit pricey. We paid $6.95/sq ft for ours. They are definitely one of my favorite things about the kitchen. And, we loved our contractor. Email me and I'll send you his info: brklynfoodie@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous! I love what you've done. It looks so peaceful and lovely. (Any chance we can see other pictures of your new place? Your bedroom sounds lovely as does your desk area - both of which are total works-in-progress (and that's being generous) at our place.) Hooray for herbs in window boxes and custom cabinets and places for cookie sheets! What great attention to detail.

As for what I love about my new kitchen? It's got ugly linoleum and even uglier cabinets, a scary stove and terrible countertops. But the oven's in the wall (no more bending over) and there's a dishwasher and no cockroaches and no dirty roommates leaving dishes in the sink for days on end and so I love it all, very very much.

Lia said...

Luisa: It really is such peaceful cooking space. I love it more and more every day. I'll try to upload some photos of the rest of the apartment (either to this post or my Flickr account) sometime this weekend. We're so happy with how everything turned out. It was quite the transformation.

And an oven in the wall, no cockroaches and no dirty roommates sounds good to me!

Unknown said...

Lia, the kitchen looks gorgeous.. and as always, you and daniel's careful, meticulous thoughtfulness has made it so cozy. Um, as for my kitchen, I think though I don't use it as much as I should, I like that it's open my lil' living room and that I can reach everything by standing in one spot and twirling in each direction. Very small.

When you having a welcoming party? : )


Lia said...

Mona, I'm not sure this apartment is big enough for a welcoming party, but we'll definitely have you over for dinner soon!

dynagrrl said...

We're in the throws of renovating our kitchen right now. It's tiny, and the reno is leaving it tiny, but hopefully more user friendly. I can't wait! Your new kitchen is absolutely beautiful!!!!

Lia said...

Thanks Dynagrrl! And good luck with your reno.

Koekkener said...

Magnifico!!! This kitchen was really excellent. I love your kitchen. Thank you for sharing.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...