As busy working parents of two adorable girls, Dot and Bina, Lupine and Dan needed a game plan when they remodeled the kitchen in their early 20th-century Portland, Oregon home. Their biggest goals were to create more open space and be more efficient with a few organizational tools, leaving more time for cooking, eating and playing with the girls. They did just that, and more! This is a space that's bound to inspire us folks with small kitchens — perfect while we're in the midst of the Kitchen Cure.
Lupine cooks for her family most evenings. When I visited with her, she had a pot of Earthy White Bean and Chard Soup going, accompanied by homemade croutons. She spoke to me of her joyful cooking, while doling out almonds to tiny hungry hands all the while.
Lupine and Dan's kitchen is unique because it's strategic. Everything has a place, it's helped by smart storage devices — drawer dividers, gorgeous Mason jars, pantry pull out drawers and hand-labeled spice jars to name a few. These items could be of use to anyone's kitchen, especially if you're working with a small space. I was truly inspired by this hassle-free sensibility and immediately revamped my pantry after my afternoon hanging out with Lupine and the girls.
10 Questions for Lupine and Dan (and Their Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
Broder Cafe in Portland, simple Swedish lines with natural materials, our 1929 home, and a small footprint.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
Hand-me-down and garage sale cast-iron cookware, and a sharp knife.
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
What we call "adult dinner," which is basically a multi-course, supper-fussy dinner that involves a few good friends and no children. We really take time to make these special and take place after bedtime with lots of wine. There was a Southeast Asian themed one, with many recipes from the book Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet that took many trips to the market and lots of time, but the food turned out amazing, and dinner was long and very fun.
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
We have cork floors and they are very warm and inviting for the girls. They like to build beds and cuddle on the floor just about the time I begin to prepare dinner. It is difficult to cook in a small kitchen with half the floorspace covered in blankets and giggling girls.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
The only thing I would have done differently is getting a sprayer faucet for our sink. We got our faucet at a plumbing store close-out sale, and while we love it, our flat-bottomed stainless sink is tricky to get into the corners of for a quick rinse out, because we have no sprayer. We looked into it after the fact, and it seemed that we would have needed a whole new faucet. Otherwise, our kitchen is all that we could have hoped for, and a year later, we still love it just as much as the day the countertops were installed, and the trim finished.
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
Sub-Zero fridge, but it was a Craigslist score. And really high quality farm-direct meat, eggs, and dairy from Know Thy Food, a local community food pantry, as well as Pastaworks on Hawthorne
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
A few more pieces of Le Creuset cookware. I use my large pot all the time, but would love to have a smaller oval and a medium size pot.
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
As from scratch as possible, but with a busy family lifestyle we try and keep it in perspective if we can't get the tomatoes put up some years.
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
It was actually the observation of a good friend's mom, who no matter how busy or overwhelmed, always cooked with joy. She cooked the best food I had as a kid and always seemed to have a wonderful time doing it. Her love and happiness was evident in the food she created. I try and do that as much as possible.
10. What are you cooking this week?
White bean soup with chard and poached eggs topped with gluten-free croutons. Recipe from Heirloom Beans book, and a total winner, even with the kids. Especially the croutons.
• Visit Lupine's Sewing Studio: Modern Domestic
• Countertops: custom stainless steel from Pacific Stainless & reclaimed fir
• Cabinets: Ikea
• Pulls: Crown City Hardware
• Shelf brackets: Ikea that we powder-coated matte black
• Shelf brackets in pantry: Rakks system
• Range/oven, dishwasher: Bosch
• Range hood: Ikea
• Fridge: Sub-Zero
• Lighting: Alabax from Schoolhouse Electric
• Inspirational blogs: Remodelista, Apartment Therapy, Shelter
We're always looking for real kitchens from real cooks.
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(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)