With Kirsten's passion for renovation and repurposing existing materials, I knew her kitchen would be as friendly as it was chic. I am so thankful to have peeked into her world, and for the lady–like lemon poppyseed scones she fed me as I toured her space!
Kirsten and Kyle renovated their Portland, Oregon kitchen a few years ago, after buying their early 20th century home in 2006. The house 'had good bones' Kirsten explained and they worked hard to preserve the integrity of the house, while modernizing the kitchen. With this intention, Kirsten had cabinetry and a gorgeous island made by local carpenters, perfectly sized for the modest kitchen. The result is a classic look, a refreshing change from many of the pre–fab Ikea–based cabinetry I see in many homes. The color scheme of gray and black is warm without being too cutesy and the French doors to a large patio impart a little luxury into this area of the home.
The detail that impressed me the most about spending time in Kirsten's kitchen was her attention to small vignettes. What I mean by that is that she has trays full of frequently used items such as olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper; another tray held flowers, cookbooks and Italian sodas. This clustering effect can be seen in the art on the walls, arranged salon style, accompanied by a rustic bench, plants and comfortable pillows. These convenient and pretty design stories help clutter stay organized and are a lovely visual in the kitchen. Kirsten's kitchen inspired me to do a little rearranging of my own when I got home!
10 Questions for Kirsten and Kyle (and their Kitchen)
Answers from Kristen
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
People and celebrations are what make cooking fun for us. We love indulging in food with friends and family and our renovated space gives us an opportunity to entertain and cook in the same room. I can't tell you how many lively conversations have been had at our bar area. It's a warm and inviting space that inspires good times and good food.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
Tough call, but I'd have to say our yellow Le Creuset tea kettle. It gets used every morning and night - we love tea!
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
Last January, to beat the winter blues, I threw a breakfast party for 10 of my closest friends. I made homemade granola, quiche, biscotti, coffee cake and scones. It took me days to prepare, a million mixing bowls, and a few extra trips to the store, but I was determined to try a number of recipes I'd been saving for years. The party was a hit - yummy food and fabulous friends are such a great combination. Oh yes, and Stumptown Coffee came to the party. A favorite in our house!
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
The size. Only two people can comfortably cook in the space. But only two people live in our home, so it works for us.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently? [if renovated]
We wish we had splurged and gone with a deep farmhouse sink. However, I'm sure we wouldn't have liked the price tag that came with that decision. If we renovate another kitchen, it will be the first thing on our wish list.
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
Our custom–made butcher block island. It unites the nook area and the kitchen and the wood brings warmth to the entire room. As for as what makes the kitchen look spiffy aesthetically, I think it's the custom built cabinets. They fit the space perfectly and take the kitchen to a whole new level.
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
We thought about exposing the brick that lives in the column in the wall next to the cook top. We love the look of old exposed brick, but we weren't sure what we'd find once we peeled back the sheetrock, and we weren't willing to take that risk. Sometimes we play around with the idea of just taking a peek, but old houses are so unpredictable that I doubt we'll ever do so.
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
Farm to fork. We stick with simple, fresh ingredients. Kyle's a personal trainer, so eating healthy is important and he certainly practices what he preaches - whole grains, lots of fruits and veggies, and fresh fish make their way to our table often.
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
Just because it's easy, doesn't mean it will taste good. A good meal takes times. Be willing to seek out the right recipe, shop for the goods and prepare it with care.
10. What are you cooking this week?
We are lucky if we even see each other during the work week, so weekends are when we really get cooking in the kitchen. Whole wheat blueberry pancakes are on the menu for Saturday morning. After sleeping in, of course!
• Visit Kirsten's Site: Restored Style
• Wall Paint: Rockport Gray HC-105; Benjamin Moore.
• Cabinet Paint: White Dove OC-17; Benjamin Moore
• Cabinets and Butcher block: DoveTail Custom Woodworks
• Backsplash: White subway tile reclaimed from The Rebuilding Center
• Sink: Kohler
We're always looking for real kitchens from real cooks.
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Related: Wes and Brianne's Adorable Kitchen
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)