When we first saw Craig's Philadelphia kitchen we nearly gasped at the vibrant colors of the space. It looked so sleek and rich, so inviting! And yet this isn't just another pretty kitchen. It's a carefully planned and crafted space designed for a serious cook, with highly functional details built in. Come and take a tour, and hear about Craig's process of creating this functional, symmetrical, yet absolutely beautiful kitchen. Craig told us that he wanted to have a fully functional kitchen with all of the requisite appliances, but he didn't want to have it look like a solid wall of stainless steel. (We admire this aspect of his restraint.) He hid most of the appliances.
And because of the minimal floor space, he said that he also wanted everything flush to avoid catching, so the handles are recessed. This is just one detail of how well he used each inch of the kitchen. He says, "Every square inch of the kitchen is used — you can't see it in the photo, but the drywall actually dies into the faceframe of the cabinet at the outside of the kitchen, just to avoid losing the extra space that framing would have required!" And yet this kitchen doesn't look packed, or cluttered, or bristling with function. It looks open and inviting.
Craig says that he managed to fit in a 36" range, two fridge/freezers (drawer and narrow column), a speedcooker that gives him a fully functioning microwave and the equivalent of a second oven, and a comfortable eating area for 3 — all in under 100 square feet. The pantry storage under the counter is great for staples, and the two narrow pull-outs next to the range are equally important for spices and oils.
Craig says, "I've comfortably made dinner for up to 10 people here - it's super!" It's a highly efficient space for one person, although any sous chefs have to work on the dining room side of the sink.
The Kitchn Questionnaire
1. What's your cooking style?
Improvisational (and according to my fiancée, messy) - usually the only time I'll use a recipe for something is if I'm baking.
2. What inspires your kitchen?
Efficiency first - the form mostly followed the function although I really like the look of framed inset cabinets and opted to go with them despite the fact that they're not strictly the most efficient use of space. I'm pretty big on symmetry, and went out of my way to make the main wall of the kitchen look identical on both sides of the range. For example, the built-in fridge and freezer doors are only one panel each, but made to look like multiple door/drawer faces.
3. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
The grill on the range - it's a luxury to be able to grill at all in the city, especially inside of a condo!
4. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
"Don't be stingy with the butter!" from my grandmother...who came from a Pennsylvania Dutch family.
5. Biggest challenge in your kitchen:
Well, as you can see from the pictures I have to work around my frequently snacking cat. Other than that, the only issue is that while the kitchen is really the ideal size for one person (because you can reach everything with little more than a step in any given direction) it's tight for more than one person to work in there simultaneously. Usually, if someone is helping me with prep they end up sitting on the dining-room side of the sink.
6. Biggest indulgence:
Well, the range was the most expensive appliance but I view that as more of an investment than an indulgence. Probably the "super-automatic" coffee/espresso maker.
7. Dream tool or splurge:
I already splurged on a grill and a speedcook oven in my current place - but like most guys I burn through a lot of bacon, and a cooktop with a grill AND a griddle is something I'm shooting for in our next place.
8. What are you cooking this week?
Not much - I've sold my place and I'm in the process of moving!
9. What cookbook has inspired you the most?
Actually, an October 2007 special issue of Wine Spectator entitled "How to Cook," which has a ton of useful and concise explanations of cooking techniques, as opposed to a recipe book which might say "braise the shank" but not really go into the proper way to braise.
10. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
I made Christmas dinner with my fiancé for a few close friends and relatives. We had roasted butternut squash, turnip and fennel soup; blackberry sage glazed ham; herbed oyster and mushroom stuffing; baked macaroni with three cheeses and panko crust; collard greens with smoked turkey; mashed potatoes with homemade gravy; and Brussels sprouts with bacon, charred shallots and a butter/balsamic sauce.
Resources & Materials
• Cabinets - custom made, mahogany
• Column fridge/freezer - Liebherr built-in 24" wide model
• Range - Wolf 36" with 4 burners and infra-red grill
• Range Hood - Best by Broan
• Coffee maker - Delonghi Magnifica
• Backsplash/Floor - Walnut travertine and slate
• Microwave/Speedcook oven - 220v GE Advantium
• Diswasher - Fisher Paykel dish drawers
• Counters - Granite, sourced from All Granite & Marble (marble.com)...it's in the "Brown" color family but I'm not sure which stone. Possibly "Cloudy Yellow", "Persian Brown" or "Espirito Santo".
• Hanging wall system - Rosle. Very expensive but they have some unique items such as the foil/plastic wrap dispenser and it's very high quality and well designed.
Thank you so much for sharing your kitchen and your process with us, Craig!
We're always looking for real kitchens from real cooks.
Submit your kitchen here.
(Images: Craig via email)