Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of requests to do a kitchen and pantry tour. I understand the appeal–I love peeking into people’s kitchens too. It can feel like you’re seeing the inside layer of who they are, and in this case, I can assure you that’s true. This kitchen’s been through a lot. When we first moved in, and for years afterward, it was a tiny, mostly metallic hallway with no lights and a bar sink. Then we made the house bigger to make space for my mother, stepfather, and sister. While we all worked on the house, we moved into a temporary kitchen in what is now my stepfather’s office and a smaller kitchen for my parents and sister. That’s where I wrote and tested my first book. We moved back into this new kitchen in 2011, and I’ve been pretty much living in this room ever since.
This is what you see when you walk in from the mudroom. It’s all one big room, and you can see the corner of our little table. We have a long desk in the basement that we pull up for parties so we can seat more people. The counters in the kitchen are a combination of butcher block and recycled chalkboard from an old school. There’s one little square of recycled marble in the island, and the lower cabinet faces are wormy maple. The wall color, one of my favorite aspects of the kitchen, is a bright poppy orange.
The open side of the island holds the pots I like to look at, as well as two baskets. The lower basket holds cloth napkins, and the upper holds dishtowels.
All of the upper cabinets are open shelves, and the lower cabinets are drawers. In the island next to the stove, there are three drawers. The first holds tools.
The second is the spice drawer. All spices are in 1/2-cup or low 1-cup mason jars, each with a lid painted with chalkboard paint (that’s all Joey). Ideally the jars would be alphabetized, but usually they’re not.
Below those are two drawers where I keep storage containers and tupperware. (They’re a mess, and I’ll keep them to myself, thank you!) Just above those drawers is a big butcher block where I do most of my chopping. The knives all live in an opening in the butcher block. Beyond them are spoons and spatulas.
Right under the stovetop are two open faced drawers where I keep pots and pans and lids.
Our cooktop is induction, and there’s a hood above it that also holds a hanging rack for tools. Just opposite the cooktop is the marble slab which sits a bit lower than the rest of the island. We made it lower so I could roll out crusts and knead dough comfortably, but it’s also where the girls like to work. On the side of the island are these bars to hold potholders, unwieldy but pretty wooden boards, and best of all–lunch boxes. And then of course, there’s my favorite place in the kitchen: the couch. It’s maybe 15 years old, from Ikea, and has no business still being alive. But it fits perfectly. And since it’s already covered in stains, we can eat anything we want on it.
If you’re standing at the stove and looking out into the room, this is what you see. That’s the fridge there on the left of this picture, so it’s directly behind you if you’re standing at the big butcher block.
Turn the other way, and there is the sink.
The sink itself is deep and cast iron. That bowl is for compost, and we use both the lower wooden rack and the upper metal rack to dry dishes. The dishwasher is right there below my beloved KitchenAid and food processor. And yes, those are the books.
This is about half of my cookbooks. The rest are scattered around the house. I organize them by color, because, odd as it may seem, it makes sense to me. Most of the time, this shelf is half empty and the couch is covered in cookbooks.
Turn the corner, and there are more open shelves for dishes and glasses.
I love the open shelving. I know some people don’t want everything out in the open, but honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I keep my all-purpose flour in a massive jar on the counter, and the rest of the flours in the pantry. That blue tray holds everything for coffee and tea, which seems to minimize those things filling and migrating across the counter. They always did before the blue tray.
Below this counter are two ovens. Are the two ovens worth it? For the year when both ovens worked, it was bliss. As soon as the warranty ended, one of the ovens stopped holding its heat, and I spent nearly as much trying to get it fixed as I would have to buy a new oven. I gave up, and now I use one oven for storing all my baking dishes. But yes, two ovens are worth it. And in the corner between the ovens and the sink is a lazy susan that holds appliances with nowhere else to go like the crockpot, popcorn popper, and tortilla press.
Now let’s flip back around to the pantry and baking area. Right next to the books is my cork board. (Again, all Joey.) I hang my measuring cups and spoons on it, and I try to make sure they’re always there. I don’t even put them in the dishwasher, as I’ve been known to tear the entire kitchen apart because WHERE THE %$#@ ARE MY MEASURING SPOONS. There are also more tools, and a constantly rotating supply of kids’ art and postcards from people I love. Also tucked in there below the books is a little stereo, which might just be the most important tool in the kitchen.
Keep going, and you’re at the pantry. The outside of the doors are chalkboard paint, which we thought would be super useful for shopping lists and meal plans. But everyone keeps insisting on covering with art instead. (I’ll pull back for the wide view again, just so you can get your bearings.)
The pantry is filled with metro shelves. I have all sorts of dreams of fancy Pinterest-worthy labels, but cardboard, sharpie, and masking tape seem to do the trick. I put everything I can into glass jars, often labeled with washi tape or post-its. The bottom shelf holds baskets for garlic, onions, and potatoes. I have a shelf in the basement where I keep a lot more of my canned goods. I also buy most of my flours and grains in bulk, and those big bags are all in the chest freezer. I’ll do a second post with a tour of the fridge and freezer. (Just give me some time to scrub those fridge shelves…)
If you’re standing at the pantry, your also right on the side of the marble section of the island. Stand at the marble, and your back is to the couch. There’s a second smaller sink in the island, also absolutely worth it if you’ve got a lot of people in the kitchen.
Just below the marble are the 2 drawers that hold my baking tools. (Also the chalk, so Rosie’s always rummaging around in this drawer and making art projects out of my cupcake liners.)
The second is more of the same, plus a whole lot of cheesecloth and cookie cutters. The third. which is twice as deep, holds pie, cake, and bread pans.
If you’re pulling out these drawers, you’re so close to the couch that you may as well just sit down on it. Next to the couch is the door to outside, where Artie and the lemon tree wait patiently for the summer to return.
And that’s my kitchen. It’s nice having you visit, although it feels strange not to be able to actually feed you. We’ll have to figure that one out for next time. Feel free to ask any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them. And stay tuned for Part 2 on the fridge and freezers, coming up in the next month or so.