Ina Garten learned her craft the way many of us did: by reading cookbooks, trying out the dishes that sounded good, and refining her techniques and making recipes her own along the way. So after she built the studio and test kitchen called The Barn at her East Hampton, NY, residence, it only made sense that she'd want to include an addition to hold her library of cookbooks. Before she had this amazing space, she says, the cookbooks were "piled in stacks." Now, these prized possessions have a home of their own.
The space, which was shot for House Beautiful magazine, isn't just a closet with bunch of shelves — it's a full-out room meant to be used as a true research library. There's a broad collection cookbooks on topics of all kinds: regional cuisine cookbooks, big-name restaurant chef cookbooks, simple cookbooks aimed at home cooks, and the decades-old staples that she (and many of us) grew up with.
The layout is smart, too. Below the rows of shelves is a deeper, normally empty shelf, which serves as a space to pull out a cookbook, lay it flat, and flip through it when referencing a particular recipe. Above the rows of cookbooks, Garten displays her cake stand collection, which has the same sort of beautiful, useful feel of the books themselves. The airy space also includes tables and a cozy lounge area, because this is the spot where Garten holds business meetings and where her Barefoot Contessa crew relaxes in between takes in the adjoining studio kitchen.
I love that Garten invested in giving her cookbooks a home. While cooking is her life and business, her dedication to her cookbooks is also something we could all learn from. Rather than keeping your own books "piled in stacks," give them room to sit, which will, in turn, encourage you to actually look through them.
What do you think? How — and where — do you store your cookbooks?