Small Cool Kitchens is our annual celebration of the hardworking kitchens around the world where real people cook, live, and celebrate joyful meals with their friends and family. This year was perhaps the best and most inspiring collection of modest and lovely kitchens we've seen yet, and I know I was personally quite inspired by all the great ideas peppered throughout the entries.
We also narrow down all the reader favorites and judges' picks and choose a Grand Prize winner — and now all the votes are in. And guess what? This year's winner is really special, as it is the first time that a rental kitchen has won the top prize! Read on to see the Grand Prize winner and International winner of Small Cool Kitchens 2013!
Grand Prize Winner
From the very beginning, we loved Katie's space, which while a rental had so many smart ideas and sweet charm. Katie's kitchen is in Minneapolis, too, and we're excited to see both a rental and a Midwestern kitchen take home the top prize this year!
Our admiration for Katie's kitchen only increased when we saw the before photos. The kitchen was initially painted a brick red paint, which, as Katie says, was way too dark for the little kitchen. They cleaned up the walls and painted the kitchen Valspar's Grand Hotel Mackinac Island Blue. Given that Katie is from Michigan, this was an appropriate nod (also note her Michigan cookie cutters hanging on the wall!).
Other smart solutions that could work in nearly any kitchen — rented or owned: The IKEA shelf over the countertop, the fold-down breakfast table, and the pegboard for pots and pans.
Ulrike's kitchen is in Bern, Switzerland, and while she did quite a lot to make it beautiful, it's also a rental! She says: "I was so stressed out to spend all that money in a rental, with so many serious decisions to make. The result still has to please my landlord though, but it was definitely worth it."
She enjoys cooking there with her son, and she described a meal they've been making this summer: "As a single mother, I cook and bake a lot but keep it simple. Lately my son invented a kind of Marcella sauce summer version: Puree some fresh ripe tomatoes and an onion like for a smoothie, bring to the boil with butter and salt and sorts, pour over your pasta. We love it."
As far as our judges go, here's what Matt Armendariz had to say about the kitchen: "I picked Ulrike’s kitchen because of finishings and colors — I absolutely love it!"
Congratulations Katie and Ulrike! Thank you so much to our judges Matt, Steve, and Amanda and Merrill for lending us your time and taste! Thank you to all of our entrants, who shared their kitchens with us, and to all of you for voting for your favorites. We love to share these smart, beautiful, inspiring kitchens, and we couldn't do it without all of your participation and support!