Who cooks and eats here: Patrick Melroy and Courtney Miller
Where: Santa Barbara, CA
Rent or Own? Rent
Artist Patrick Melroy and landscape architect Courtney Jane Miller cook and eat in a 70-square-foot space on the second story of a 1940s home in Santa Barbara. Their kitchen is drenched in natural light and feels downright heady with the scent of orange blossoms and ocean breeze wafting through the giant windows. It's one of the most welcoming, comfortable and beautiful kitchens I know.
Patrick and Courtney's Kitchen Story
Courtney moved into the downtown Santa Barbara home about four years ago, Patrick joined her about two years later. They synthesized their belongings, Patrick bringing his favorite cast iron skillets (purchased at a country store for a camping trip 20 years ago, still tickin'!) and his favorite two knives, a small paring knife from a cheese plate and a 6 inch chef's knife. Courtney already had the cutest selection of coffee cups in pastel colors, vintage plates, a great red utensil collection, her beloved Kitchen Aid mixer and all manner of cookbooks. Together they do that couples dance within the kitchen, each person anticipating and reveling in each other's creations and moving around the small space with ease — everything has its place and it's spick and span!
The kitchen itself probably dates to the 1930s and hasn't had many updates through the years. There's no pantry, so food storage is tight. The stove is gas and the fridge is big enough to hold Patrick's daily market runs and unruly amount of condiments. The kitchen, in all of it's light tones and imperfections, is elegant.
Patrick & Courtney's Cooking Story
Patrick learned to cook from his mother, a school teacher. She'd involve Patrick and his siblings on all the grocery shopping and cooking. From a young age, Patrick's been the one at the stove, helping his mom, and then feeding his friends and loved ones. He shops obsessively, often hitting the grocery store twice a day and always the farmers market a couple times a week. He's interested in food, is a great cook and has a captive audience of friends.
Patrick has worked as a magician and he's definitely working magic in this space, turning out pancakes for 30 people, fried chicken for 20 — these numbers don't daunt him in the slightest.
And just when you think there's been enough, there will be an entire other course in the works you didn't even realize. For example, after a particularly rollicking St. Patrick's Day Sunday breakfast pancake event, the one o'clock hour rolled around and this couple pulled a giant ham out of the oven, Courtney spontaneously whipping up a mustardy glaze to finish off the glorious meat.
Courtney's specialty is desserts and baked goods. She's been making banana bread since she could stir the batter and will turn out the perfect brownie for an impromptu tea party. I knew I was dealing with a serious baker when she presented me with a bowl of about ten varieties of the most sumptuous, jewel-like cookies during the holidays — from apricot rugelach, to Russian tea cakes, to hazelnut bacis with chocolate frosting, and the basic chocolate chip — and said as an aside, "This is nothing; my family usually makes at least 20 different desserts for holidays." How do I get adopted? Or can I at least join you in this cookie operation next year and learn your ways?
Resources of Note
- Artwork: Old-fashioned picture of Courtney's grandmother and great uncle
- Plates & Cups: Vintage
- Favorite Knives: Cheese plate set and basic chef knife
- Cast Iron Skillets: From an old country store in Washington
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(Image credits: Leela Cyd)