Jenny and Asmund both work in the field of architecture and do freelance design work. Their kitchen balances function and form beautifully. It's compact, full of light, and a great example of renovation on a budget, $4,000 to be exact. Join me for a slice of pear galette and a tour of this inspired space and edible garden.
Jenny and Asmund make most of their meals from scratch, using much of the produce from their lovely backyard garden. They appreciate the moderate climate of the Pacific Northwest and grow edibles such as lettuce, turnips, carrots, leeks, beans as well as many other delicious crops to use in everyday cooking. Their garden is just as cared for and purposefully designed as their kitchen.
After purchasing their home in NE Portland after seeing an ad on Craigslist (hello ultimate Craigslist score, a house!), they quickly began the renovation of the kitchen and breakfast nook. They tore down track windows and installed a vertical window above the sink, allowing for more light and a view of the neighboring cherry tree. They used butcher block from Ikea to create more counter space, built open shelves to display their curated cookbook collection and ceramics, and most importantly, made room for a European–style fridge by ditching the dishwasher, opening up the light–drenched nook for eating. The previous owners had a large fridge occupying much of this desirable space.
This kitchen represents a lot of great ideas for those of us with small kitchens that get a lot of use — Great flow and extreme editing are the big issues here as well as working with what you've got (they just repainted existing cabinets with fantastic results) and removing clunky appliances to let the light in.
10 Questions for Jenny and Asmund (and their Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
The single greatest inspiration is our vegetable garden; choosing or creating a recipe around what is available, and often fleeting.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
Good knives, a close second are good pots/pans.
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
Our kitchen renovation was completed in two phases, the first was focused on getting kitchen operational again, after a month of eating every meal out. The first meal we prepared after this milestone is the most memorable. We put together a special dinner for visiting family members. We made grilled pork chops, and from the garden: braised turnips greens and salad. Everything turned out delicious, and it was great to try out the semi-complete new kitchen.
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
Layout was a challenge; our house was built in 1903, so not in anticipation of a kitchen as we would recognize. There was not an obvious location for the fridge, and including enough counter top space was definitely a challenge. The kitchen island work surface has been wonderful.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently? [if renovated]
For the most part it turned out just as we had hoped; we do wish we had spent a little more on a nicer 24-inch wide refrigerator.
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
Our biggest splurge would have been the sink. We made a choice to keep the kitchen as simple as possible, including omission of a dishwasher (we have had one for years and barely used it). The sink gets a lot of use, and with wood counters we felt we needed a sink with a drainboard. Good quality double sinks with drainboards are not cheap, and we were prepared to spend the money. Fortunately, Jenny found one on Craigslist for a steal, so it turned out not to be a splurge.
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
Our original design included a row of hopper cabinets above the shelves for storage of less frequently used items. So far we haven't found a need for the extra storage. At some point we may find we need the cabinets and add them in. The other fantasy would be to upgrade stove to an AGA or WOLF range, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
I've seen the expression peasant style cooking; I would say that fits our cooking style. We try to make everything from scratch, using the simplest methods and ingredients, with focus on proper but not fussy techniques.
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
Grow some of your own food — I am not sure was ever formal advice or a tip, but I would say it is the most important piece of my progression.
10. What are you cooking this week?
We are traveling for two months at the end of this week, so the focus is to use everything we have that won't keep, including vegetables from the garden. This week we made a delicata squash risotto, a vegetable hash, a minestrone soup, a stir fry, also planning to make a vegetable/potato frittata tonight.
• Stove: Whirpool (found on Craigslist)
• Refrigerator: LG
• Sink: Elkay (found on Craigslist)
• Faucet: Grochet
• Hood: Braun
• See Jenny's Etsy Shop: Leigh Made
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Related: Amanda's Smart, Renovated Kitchen
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)