A Glimpse Inside (and Outside) My Kitchen

Kitchen Diary: Emily in Los Angeles

Three years ago when Gregory told me that Alysia's apartment was for rent and we should check it out, I was skeptical. We weren't actively looking to move and as we toured the apartment, I thought I was simply humoring him — until I stepped into the kitchen. Sunlight poured through the open windows, from which I caught a view of the sparkling Silver Lake reservoir. The kitchen was surrounded by trees and songbirds flitted through the branches. "Yes," I said. "Let's move!"

When people visit they often remark how small the kitchen is, which makes me laugh because I still remember what it was like to work in my old, awkward kitchen. Although it's only about 60 square feet, this kitchen feels refreshing and spacious to me. The abundant sunlight and surrounding nature really help.

Our apartment was built in 1929 and I love the period touches such as French windows, scalloped doors under the kitchen sink, and built-ins like a little cabinet over the sink. One of my favorite features is a pull-out cutting board, which I use all the time as an extra surface. I also added other vintage elements like a wooden drying rack and a flea market painting by the stove.

To create more storage space Gregory installed IKEA Värde shelving, including two tall shelves in a corner and one long shelf with hooks over the stove. I'm a sucker for mason jars on open shelves, and I store most of my grains and beans in vintage jars I found on the cheap while on a cross-country road trip. I like the textures and colors, plus it's a good way to keep me reminded of what ingredients are available for making dinner or creating recipes. (As a food writer and recipe developer, my kitchen is my office, too.)

I often wonder what this kitchen looked like when it was first built. For one thing, it certainly didn't have ugly vinyl flooring! We covered part of it with FLOR carpet tiles but dream of replacing the floor, as well as the awful particle board countertop. I'd love more surfaces, more storage space. I'd love to swap our rental stove for something more inspiring. Yet for the most part I really do feel grateful — for the windows, the light, this inspiring place to create.

The view from one of the windows, with an orange tree on the left and the Silver Lake Reservoir on the right.

(Image credits: Emily Han)