Melody is an architect and an avid home cook, so when she and her husband set out to build a new home in the hills of Portland, Oregon, they put a lot of energy into the cooking and dining spaces. The resulting kitchen is open, airy and perfect for hanging out with guests who can relax at the counter or the stunning reclaimed wood table at the adjoining dining room. Here's an extended peek into that rare, beautiful thing: A kitchen designed precisely for a home cook's taste and desires.
Melody and her husband Brian both share a love of cooking and passion for farm–fresh produce. With two hungry teenage daughters, their focus is on healthy and delicious food every family member can enjoy. Melody cooks as a way to relax, and she learned a lot from her mother and grandmother. This family is also a collective of avid tea drinkers; I don't know if I've ever seen such a well–stocked tea cupboard, full of exotic loose leaf varieties and old standbys such as PG Tips. Other exciting collections in this kitchen include flaky salts of every type and a drawer full of chocolate bars. Heavenly!
Melody says that this kitchen came together pretty easily. The design process was a collaborative one that didn't change the original footprint of the house, but did build up. The kitchen and dining space both have very large windows overlooking an adjacent forest from one side and at the other, a sweet bench and perch for outdoor cooking come summer. The space has that workhorse feel where you know upon entering it's a very well–used space with lots of storage and great organization.
10 Questions for Melody (and Her Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
Fun, family and definitely our farmer's market down the road. I am addicted to it. I come home with the oddest ingredients that I have no idea how they are going to go together. But when you see them presented so fresh and beautiful they are hard to resist. I also come home with way too much food. But my family seems to eat it all up. I cook every meal from scratch and I love sitting around the table, laughing and sharing our day over good food. That inspires me to keep cooking.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
OK — so this isn't a tool, but I love to put an apron on before I start cooking. It might be a little Mr. Rogers but it makes me feel like a chef. And to be totally honest. I am a mess when I am cooking. Flour, tomato sauce, etc. manages to get everywhere, especially if I forget the apron.
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
I had to ask my family this, because I don't think you can appreciate your own cooking. We host every Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, etc. for our large family that lives close. I thought a meal from this would be the choice, but everyone picked the weekly meals. The Friday night homemade pizza, the chicken noodle soup with homemade egg noodles, the braised meats and vegetables.
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
I tend to be a neatnik so I love that there is a space for everything. Behind the cupboards though is a constant battle with all of us getting in out of everything.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I pinch myself every day I get to cook here.
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
My 48-inch Wolf range. I love, love it. I used to have a 30-inch range that I thought I cranked out good meals on. But this is truly a joy to use. We use every square inch of it. The griddle several times a week for pancakes, sandwiches and tortillas. The burners always have something braising on them and the ovens are great for roasting meats and veggies that I use throughout the week. I tend to like to spend most of Sunday cooking (after a visit to the farmer's market) and then use those ingredients throughout the week.
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
Do you think kids that clean up the kitchen without having to be asked is in my future?
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
Constantly learning. I love reading cookbooks. I now just get them from the library because I was collecting too many. I like to read them cover to cover. I tend to also like to wing it when I cook. Which frustrates my family, because it is hard for me to duplicate something if they like it.
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
I come from a long line of amazing cooks. My grandma used to cook in logging camps. And from her and my mother I learned cooking is love. Taking the time to make something tasty and pretty is an expression of yourself and how you feel about someone. Enjoy the process and the results with those you love.
10. What are you cooking this week?
Roasted chicken and vegetables from Sunday that will become chicken noodle soup and chicken tacos from the leftovers. Definitely omelets (from our chicken's eggs) and a salad one night. And the Friday night staple: pizza. I am going to make my favorite — olive oil, prosciutto, arugula, dates, Parmesan cheese and truffle salt and enjoy it with a bottle of wine.
• Architecture/design: Emerick Architects (myself and my husband's firm)
• Cabinets: custom by Treeform Woodworking, CVG Fir
• Countertops: Honed Caesarstone
• Floors: Oregon White Oak
• Brand of stove/oven: Wolf
• Pots and pans: cast iron pans from my grandma and basic stainless steel for everything else
• Dishes: Vietri — my husband bought them for me when I got my architectural license, we should probably baby them to keep them looking good, but we don't.
• Sink: Sonoma Cast Stone
• Paint colors: on the wall: Miller, Coastal Point
• Visit Melody's Architecture Firm: Emerick Architects
We're always looking for real kitchens from real cooks.
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(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)