I tend to obsess over my future space before I move anywhere (ex: when I was little I would draw blueprints of my bunk before going to camp), and so before we even moved in I had sketches and lists of what we were going to do with the most important room in the house. The day of our move I had three of my friends help me paint two coats of primer to cover the brick red paint in the kitchen while the guys moved the heavy furniture up the stairs. Most of the transformation was done our first weekend, the rest has been all subtle changes and adjustments.
A few of the design elements I love are the chalkboard on the door for keeping an inventory of perishable groceries (the chalkboard is just chalkboard contact paper - no permanent damage to a rental), and the cable that we use to hang the menus of fabulous meals we've shared.
Nic and I are college sweethearts; we met in the University of Michigan Marching Band, and we started cooking together while we were on a student budget. Our cooking style has grown up with us, and as my career in food (cheesemongering) has taught both of us about the importance of classic techniques and using great ingredients. We love challenging ourselves in the kitchen, whether it be by making homemade duck confit that leaves our apartment smelling like duck fat for weeks (and we are fine with that), or simply by trying to feed as many of our friends as possible at the drop of a hat. On busy weeknights we cook mostly vegetarian fare, and farro has become our new pantry staple.
My mother - who can knit a sweater or build a house - taught me that you should always have the best tools you can afford. We definitly did not scrimp when it was time to get great basic kitchen tools. We have a few really good All-Clad pots and pans and Le Creuset Dutch ovens, I love our gigantic Boos Block cutting board, and our awesome set of mismatched knives. One of our most prized possessions is a full set of antique Griswold cast iron skillets. Half of them were from Nic's dad who passed away several years ago; it's nice to have a way of remembering him when we are cooking. My favorite frivolous purchase was our mint green Dualit toaster - we got a bit of guff when we bought it, but whatever, it makes the best toast in the world. On the other end of the kitchen tool spectrum, I'm shocked that nobody noticed the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer hanging from the shelf. It was sent to us anonymously as a gag gift, and it is now permanently and proudly displayed.
Katie and Nic Milliron
Of course it’s not very wise to remodel the kitchen of a rented apartment. Even less so if your landlord despises IKEA in general and advises you to value what you have. So, on the pro side I had my unability to value what I had, a life’s dream of a beautiful kitchen, and the prospect of living here for some more years. Plus, something had to be done anyway, as the old furniture was beginning to fall apart. And when finally my 13-year old son and I saw our before photo on The Kitchn, we both screamed, disgusted at the memory.
It’s hard to tell what I like most. Before, you sensed the kitchen was too small for about everything. Now you step in and it is small, but totally viable. I did a few things to achieve this: cabinets on either wall are not the same color and style, they don’t fill the wall space completely, tiles do not stretch up to the cabinets. I am glad it worked out. Upon entering, the eye no longer bumps into the white wall opposite, but sinks into recessing black, and the white rim around the window makes it seem larger, lighter and a real feature when before it was a modest hole.
The kitchen has really become the living-room our tiny flat was missing. Here we entertain friends, work at the computer, watch TV, and cook and eat. The items I use most are a cook’s knife and a large chopping board, and a small knife and small board. For breadmaking we keep a 10 kg bag of flour under the table and make the dough by hand. We also use a hand blender, as for apple juice or hummus with extra cumin and pine seeds. Two things turned out especially delicious this year: rhubarb muffins (!!), and deep-fried fish chunks dipped in a spiced batter of chickpea flour and water, served with chutney and raita.
Thanks to everybody at The Kitchn – you are a true inspiration!!!
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