Today I’m taking you on a (brief) tour of my kitchen, and sharing how I’ve thought through it’s design to make the most of our small space!
Our kitchen layout is typical of SF Victorians, with a U-shaped counter on one side and a little eat-in dining area on the other side. When we were house-hunting last year one of our top criteria was that our 8-foot long antique church pew would be able to fit…somewhere. Thankfully a church pew is the perfect solution to the eat-in kitchen design challenge! It affords tons of seating (ours seats up to 5) but only stands 16″ out from the wall. We added baskets under the pew which gave us additional storage for bulk items like bottles of pellegrino, paper plates and cups, and extra glassware for parties. I picked baskets that matched the color of the wood so they would “disappear” as much as possible, and then hung pictures on either side of the window to draw the eye up. For the art I’ve framed the illustrated pages of this children’s book in these simple grey frames from Target.
Artwork, textiles and plants are great ways to add personality to your kitchen. When using textiles and artwork in your kitchen I recommend affordable options that are easy to replace since they’ll be exposed to grease and smoke and a broad range of temperatures. Cotton pillows and cushions that you can throw in the washing machine are better suited to kitchen use than silks. I’ve placed a rug in my kitchen in our last two apartments, mostly to cover less-than-ideal flooring, but it also warms up the space, making it feel more homey and giving cooks a softer place to stand. I’d recommend using flat-weave rugs like kilims or dhurries in bolder colors so the are easy to vacuum (or even throw in the washing machine) and won’t harbor crumbs.
We often eat breakfast at our little french bistro table, and if we have another couple over for a casual dinner date I’ll serve appetizers and drinks at this table, and pull in a garden stool or two so everyone can hang out while I put the finishing touches on our meal.
We’re renters and haven’t made any changes to the cabinets or counters, so when you can’t have white marble countertops there are marble pastry slabs, marble canisters and towel holders to be had instead. Aside from using the pastry board to roll out dough, I’ll use it as the foundation of my cheese and charcuterie spreads at parties, and the canister that normally holds my cooking utensils also doubles as a white wine cooler – just pop a couple ice cubes in the bottom and it will keep your wine cool for over two hours. (Marble is a fantastic material for items you want to keep cool like cheese and white wine.)
I keep commonly used items such as flour, sugar and oatmeal in glass jars on the counter where they’re easily accessible. I also love purchasing plants instead of cut herbs – they are almost the same price and last longer while cheering up the utilitarian space. My little herb garden is potted in mint julip cups and old wine crates. Displaying cookbooks, your favorite glassware, and your prettiest tools like a shiny KitchenAid mixer and deep cobalt dutch oven are other ways to free up cabinet space for other items.
Don’t overlook the space above your cabinets – I added more baskets up here to store seasonal items like my full set of Christmas plates, specialty serving dishes, and other infrequently used items. Keep in mind that heat rises, so storing food or wine above your cabinets is a no-no since it will drastically shorten their shelf life.
Photos by Stacie Flinner for stacieflinner.com