You know how sometimes you go into a domestic diva's (or fella's) kitchen and get totally insecure about your own cooking skills and suddenly find yourself really shy? Kate Payne and her kitchen are the complete opposite of that. In fact, when you walk into her cheery and friendly kitchen in her East Austin home, you come away with a feeling of wanting to tackle all kinds of cool kitchen and cooking projects.
Which is probably why Kate Payne has become quite well known for her ability to inspire domestic traits in her fellow man and woman. The creative chieftess behind the blog The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking and author of the book of the same name, Kate's made a name for herself by genuinely loving the nitty gritty details behind certain domestic chores and showing others that making a homemade home isn't just accessible, it's fun.
Now sharing this hip 1970s house on the East Side of Austin with her fiancée, talented photographer JoAnn, and kitty Alfie and pup Isobel, the kitchen is visually and geographically the center of their house, which they rent. They moved back here from Brooklyn in 2010 (but they actually met in Austin before moving to New York City). They were in awe of all the space of the house (coming from a 900 square foot space) and loved the fun colors that the landlord had already painted the kitchen. They focused on functionality: adding a pegboard for storage, an extended counter with a piece of furniture, shelves and curtains for some hidden but cute storage. Kate also made some extra storage in the pantry for all her jams and canned foods.
8 Questions for Kate Payne (and Her Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
I plan meals based on whatever's on hand from our cooperative garden or the week's preserving projects. I love to geek out about chemistry, why cooking methods make certain things happen and learn about different types of ingredients, which is why Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking" book is essential in my repertoire.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
It's a toss-up between the ice-cream attachment freezer bowl for my KitchenAid mixer and my high-heat Rubbermaid spatulas. My ice creaming bowl gets used all the time and I know they're not very flashy, but my mom gave me her restaurant-quality spatula set and I use them daily for baking, jam making and other projects, including ice creaming.
3. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
My miniature stove and oven. I'm used to feeling stretched for burner space on a standard range what with jam pots and canner pots vying for space, but this house came with a stylish, though very small, 15"-range. I'm still not quite sure how I'll manage the timing and battle for space that is Thanksgiving or other big holiday cooking.
4. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I really like my landlord's IKEA remodel and wooden countertops, though the open kitchen/living room format means we don't have anything along the lines of useful cabinetry. That's why I hung the pegboard.
5. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
My Le Creuset 7.25" French oven. It *is* my jam pot and I do use it daily during the height of preserving, well worth the outlet store birthday splurge!
6. How would you describe your cooking style?
Fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants. I rarely plan meals beyond the basic components and I'm not a good recipe follower. It all comes together when I'm standing at the stovetop. I'm lucky that my unpredictable kitchen artistry usually always ends in delicious success.
7. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
Wear shoes in the kitchen. Mostly for comfort; standing on hard floors and the resulting soreness can make the kitchen a less enjoyable place to be.
8. What are you cooking this week?
Preserved Meyer lemon risotto, strawberry ice cream and white wine pickled fennel.
• Le Creuset
Thank you so much for letting us peek into your kitchen!
More aboute Kate
• Visit Kate's blog: The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking
• Find Kate's book: The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking
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(Images: Adrienne Breaux)