Take two avid cooks from California and put them in a craftsman
cottage in Seattle and what do you get? A kitchen full of personality and color,
designed to combat the long grey Northwestern winters. Mari and Adam have
renovation plans, but in the meantime they're created a cheerful and cozy spot
for themselves and the three dogs that make up their family.
"We wanted to live here a little while before renovating," explains
Mari, who is looking forward to reconfiguring the kitchen layout. The plan is
to take away the mudroom and swap the stove and the back door. "The distance
between the stove and sink is the bane of my existence," Mari says.
Until then, Mari and Adam make good use of their kitchen. Adam is
the bread baker, ice cream and jam maker (that’s his excellent peach jam and
bread). Mari’s chile verde is a favorite amongst her friends, and they both
bake excellent pies. The Sunday morning I visited, Adam had just come home from
the farmers market with fresh corn, chard, tomatoes, and herbs.
Mari is responsible for the charm and vintage touches: antique
kitchen canisters, chalkboard paint on the cupboards, a Pyrex loaf pan used as
a phone and notepaper holder. Most striking is the colorfully patterned napkins
and dishtowels hung on clips as curtains. The summery flower pattern is
replaced with a cheery vegetable print for fall and winter.
10 Questions for Mari and Adam (and Their Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
Mari: I enjoy simple and straightforward food. I'm not much for
complicated preparations. It's so cliché, but we really do cook with what's in
season. Fish, fruit and salads in summer—soups, stews and braised meats in
Adam: the challenge of cooking. I enjoy the process and discovery.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
My favorite design element is the color—because green is the new
black. Actually, these colors are ideal for Seattle's eight months of murky gloom.
My favorite tools are my Cuisinart mini prep and my garlic peeler. Some scoff
at garlic peelers, but I don't go to bed with garlic under my fingernails. We
use a lot of garlic.
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
The day after a very dear friend's memorial service, three of us
gathered here on a chilly and rainy Seattle spring day and made congee
together. That dish calls for a lot of chopping and stirring and there was also
a lot of storytelling and crying. After we ate, we sat next to the fireplace
and one of my friends pulled a storybook from her bag and read out loud. Every
few weeks for months afterward the story time ladies met for lunch. We always
set a place for our friend, and we always read a bit of something out loud. We
never planned that, it just happened.
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
The terrible, awful, no-good layout—the stove is far from the
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
We should have replaced the floor prior to moving in, that isn’t
very expensive and it would have looked much better. I wish I would have
renovated it already, but I am chicken. Or lazy. Or both.
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
Groceries: we try to buy almost exclusively organic food—including
meat, and we pretty much treat ourselves to whatever new ingredient strikes our
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
We moved in knowing we would renovate. We will take out the wall
into the dining area and the one behind the stove, change the layout, and
install a gas range. We wanted to live here awhile before we made any
decisions. I think three years is long enough.
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
I like to read a few different recipes in cookbooks and/or online
and then fly by the seat of my pants.
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
From my sister the professional chef: you know more than you give
yourself credit for—just follow your instincts.
10. What are you cooking this week?
Melissa Clark's corn ice cream from the NYT. It's summer in Seattle
so we will grill salmon at least once, and very likely a pie with peaches or
nectarines from our all fruit CSA box.
Resources of Note:
- Counters: here already, look to be granite tiles. They do not show
dirt at all, which is a blessing and a curse.
- Fridge: GE. It is hideous, but holds a lot of food. Someone figure
out how to organize these pull out freezer drawers. PLEASE. Stove: Glass top electric that came with the house. Whatever it
is, no one deserves it.
- Prep cart: Crate and Barrel.
- Paint colors: Pratt and Lambert: Sea Fairy up top,
Chesapeake below, trim is C2 Cotton.
- Coffee maker: French press. Cuisinart burr grinder.
- Next to fridge organizers: Ikea pull out pantry and wire shelving
- Dishes: thrifted, Etsy, Ikea.
- Curtain napkins from envelop.eu over sink; dish
towels on back door/windows from Crate and Barrel. I change them seasonally.
- Glasses shelves: Anthropolgie from fifteen years ago.
Thank you so much for letting us peek into your kitchen!
Share your own kitchen renovation or improvement!
We're always looking for real kitchens from real cooks.
Show us your kitchen here!
(Images: Tara Austen Weaver)