It's not often I walk into a kitchen and immediately feel so inspired by the colors, tools, art and materials around me. From the 6-burner gas range to the repurposed tool-cart island to the small sculptural objects that pepper the room, the personality of the owners shines brightly throughout this kitchen.
Cissy and Richard live in Santa Barbara, California, and they remodeled their 50's style tiny kitchen about four years ago. They couldn't be more pleased with the results — Richard is an inspired cook, with an interest in show–stopping dishes. Think roasted vegetable lasagna where he's grown the peppers, eggplant and squash, rolled out the pasta by hand and stirred up a delicate béchamel sauce all in a matter of moments — and conceptual dinner parties such as the 'all white' dinner party (where he served fish quenelles, mashed potatoes and angel food cake with whipped cream).
Cissy cooks simpler foods, equally delicious, with an eye on her slow cooker and a love of pantry staples such as locally–made jams, olives, pickles and mustards. Cooking is very important to both of them, and they wanted their new kitchen to be functional and stylish. With their remodel, they knocked down walls so the kitchen could spatially serve as the hearth of the home, with easy access to the dining and living rooms.
Cissy and Richard had a few goals in mind when converting the small brown kitchen that served them for nearly thirty years and raising two kids. Cissy wanted a view of the garden while she did the dishes, so they moved the sink and pushed one existing wall out about two feet. They knocked down half of a wall to the dining room for more accessibility to guests who were hanging out while Richard was cooking (although, most folks gravitate towards the kitchen with all the alchemy going on in there!). They added a skylight and customized cabinets.
Cissy chose the bold green color for the cabinets with a little hesitation, but the couple love the apple green stain and feel it somehow acts as a neutral tone, in the sense that it flows with all the garden views from the kitchen and living room. I couldn't agree with them more. It actually does achieve this mellow feeling, even though the color is quite vibrant.
Another creative touch is their swiveling island, which is actually a tool–cart from Costco, with a wooden chop block affixed to the top, for extra counter space. The slim drawers perfectly house silverware, cooking utensils, pots and pans — all the essentials. It's very beautiful and does the job well.
10 Questions for Cissy and Richard (and their Kitchen)
note: Richard answered the survey
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
The people in the dining room.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
My podcasts, my tongue, my pizza stones and paddle, and my little dog Vito (always at my side looking for scraps).
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
Many years ago, I made every Thanksgiving recipe from a spread in Gourmet magazine. It was when my wife was an editor working all day and I had two little kids working in the kitchen with me. I know it's not PC, but everyone wore Pilgrim hats made of paper, even the dog. I cooked the meal and went to sleep at 5PM. I still make the pumpkin chiffon pie from this issue; it has become the stuff of legend to my kids and their friends. It's amazing.
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
I need a double boiler!
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
We chose to open up the kitchen, which I love, but we did lose wall space. I would have loved to have the room for a second oven.
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
Chocolate. Darker the better. Valrhona, Scharffenberger, Alma and Sahagun Chocolates both based out of Portland, Oregon. None of that milk junk. Also, nice single–malt scotch (Laphroig, Lagavulen, Talisker, Clear Creek McCarthy's). With the kitchen, we sprung for custom–built cabinets, installed at a few different heights to accommodate the coffee maker and the soda–water maker, two appliances we use multiple times a day.
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
A single–malt scotch dispenser.
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
Demanding, but loose.
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
I realized I was not good-looking and had to depend on some other skills to seduce a girl. Luckily my girlfriend, who became my wife, liked my cooking skills. I was about 18 when I cooked the first meal for her, Ollie's Chocolate Cake (made with coffee instead of water).
10. What are you cooking this week?
Just made buttermilk biscuits. Coming from Miami yesterday thinking about split barbecued prawns, red beans and rice, and plantains.
• Oven: Wolf
• 6-burner range: Viking
• Coffee maker: Jura Capresson
• Fridge and dishwasher: Kitchen Aid
• Tool cart: Costco
• Kitchen designer: Colleen Kelly
• Portraits of our kids and the dog: David Kilpatrick
We're always looking for real kitchens from real cooks.
Submit your kitchen here.
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)