Kitchen!

We’re still living in what I call “phase 1” of our kitchen redo. Phase 1 started, and was mostly completed, soon after we moved in but some recent finishing touches have made it as good as it’s gonna get until we move on to bigger (probably not major…though I’m taking suggestions!) changes in the future.The kitchen was pretty decent when we took ownership of the house so we opted to do a lot of surface updates to visually streamline the space instead of major renovations. We installed maple floors, removed wallpaper, removed some decorative trim, painted all cabinetry and walls, painted the pocket door bright yellow, swapped lights, put in a new range hood and faucet, and added new hardware on doors and drawers. Just those semi-easy, semi-cheap changes made a huge difference. We kept the existing appliances and sink (all beige whomp whomp, except adorable original black oven!) and the grayish tile counter (which isn’t my favorite because GROUT but isn’t awful either).

BTW, all sources at the end :)

Our ugly, old beige dishwasher finally gave out a few months ago and I was ECSTATIC to get a clean-looking white replacement. We were really close to buying this Kitchen Aid, when we remembered Sears and bought this model from Kenmore instead…both made by Whirlpool, just sold under different brands. They are nearly identical inside but the Kenmore has the plainer exterior look that I was searching for. And it was majorly on sale for Memorial Day. I am so so happy with it (proof of middle agedness)! Bonus, it fits like 50% more than our previous dishwasher so there has been a 50% reduction of dirty dishes covering what little counter space we have. Hooray!

Also, we finally finished all the trim work, thus officially concluding phase 1…a mere 5 years after we started. Ha.

Here is the workhorse side of the kitchen, looking so fresh with that new dishwasher…
(Isn’t this the cutest 60’s looking toaster? Our old one crapped out a few months ago and when I went to buy a new one, this sweetness was waiting for me!)

Behind the pocket door is our laundry room (which has seen some recent action too that I hope to share soon), a small walk in pantry, and garage access. I LOVE the convenience of having the laundry room located right here in the work zone, but am grateful for the option to close the door on that clutter sometimes!The other side of the room opens to our small entry and front door. Over there, we have an eat-in-kitchen space, an original built-in desk area, and a gross old fridge (which never makes it in photos UNTIL TODAY. I cover it with artwork and pictures, my controlled area of complete chaos, to hide all the beige). I love having a table in the kitchen with kids and this vintage one that we’ve had since we got married is still indestructibly holding strong. Chairs are cheap knock offs that I’m completely ok with my children wiping meals all over. The desk, across from the table, is an original adorable and funky feature that actually gets a lot of use. We store art and homeschool supplies here as well as the day-to-day household office type stuff: mail, bills, stationary items, phone book, junk drawer, etc. I try to keep it clean since it is the first thing you see when you walk in the door, but it often serves as our cluttered drop zone. That hole in the wall is a pass-thru to the dining room.
All in all, not a bad refresh. I’m so thankful we didn’t need to dump in more time, energy and budget into this hard working space to get it to an enjoyable place while we wait to spend a little more on new appliances and countertops. Here’s where we started and how far we’ve come. Way less beige, way more crisp… The plan is to continue with a bright white kitchen for “phase 2.” Mostly because it lets my unavoidable hoard of colorful vintage dishware and cookware shine. I’d love beautiful, moody walnut kitchens but really think the bright, light vibe we have now is the right move for this house…and walnut cabinets with the maple floors sounds over the top, right?

Our next changes will be in a year or so and include white solid surface counters, some kind of colorful backsplash tile (why doesn’t these come in chartreuse – heartbroken), a new sink (white or stainless, undecided), a new white fridge, and a new cooktop (maybe with a gas conversion). We’ve considered building new cabinetry but honestly are pretty happy with the existing layout, and since we would probably go white again, the cost AND HASSLE don’t seem worth it.

The only thing we might change with the layout is adding a few feet of counter space by moving the wall oven to lowers. But it’s such a cute detail and I’m not sure how much moving it would even improve our day-to-day. I love having an eat in kitchen (maybe one day we’ll make it a built-in banquette like this gorgeous one!) and I love the charm of that weird original desk so I wouldn’t want to mess with those spaces.

We sometimes think about opening up the oven/cooktop wall partially to the den, but I’m not sure what we’d gain other than backyard views and the den then becomes even more confusing of a space. Living through a full kitchen remodel in our first house where walls were torn down and my husband custom made all our cabinetry was brutal, and is a project I’m not looking to undertake again if the improvements aren’t massive. What would you do if this was your kitchen??!!

 

SOURCES

pocket door yellow – Behr Lemon Lime
walls and cabinetry – Behr Ultra Bright White (more info about painting them here)
cabinet pulls similar
lights -discontinued Jonathan Adler for JCP
wood floors
dishwasher
blinds
vent – Broan similar
sink faucet
soap dispenser
canisters – vintage
fruit bowl -discontinued Jonathan Adler
hanging mugs – vintage Franciscan Starburst
clock
mixer
toaster
blender
yellow pot – vintage Dansk
table – vintage
chairs similar
desk stool similar
entry light
entry mirror

Thanks so much for stopping by!!! xoxo Jenny

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Cosco Step Stool Chair Reupholster

Easing back into projects after the holidays with this super simple upgrade to a surprisingly utilitarian piece: a Cosco step stool/chair in our kitchen. There are vintage versions of these chairs, but this model is a newer one that we got when kids were too big for high chairs but too small for regular chairs. They served their purpose so well, we ended up getting two. I had always planned to unload these when the time came, but turns out the flip up chair seat/step stool function is pretty useful. So useful that I’m permanently keeping them in their once temporary homes: one in the pantry and this one at the kitchen desk. We sit at the desk often and use the steps daily to reach high shelves or boost up little kitchen helpers.

The white vinyl chair cover had long ago been ripped to shreds so I was happy to get a little wild for this easy recovering. I’m not generally a pattern person, but I really liked this print (scrap piece on ebay was $4) and figured it was easy and cheap enough to change when it becomes too cutesy for me. I went all old lady on this things and covered the seat in fabric and clear vinyl. So first foam, then fabric, then 10mm vinyl. I’ve never worked with vinyl and it took a bit of pulling and manipulating to get it taut around the corners, but I got there in the end. So granny, so easy!
mid century kitchen built in desk pass throughcosco step stool chair recover reupholster birch farm lightening bugs fabric yellow door kitchen vinyl cosco step stool chair recover reupholster birch farm lightening bugs fabriccosco step stool chair recover reupholster birch farm lightening bugs fabric

  cosco step stool chair recover reupholster birch farm lightening bugs fabric yellow door kitchen

Sometimes, especially when unmotivated, I like to approach house projects like you are supposed to approach debt: pay off the smallest one first. And this was the least I owed my house! Second easiest even got tackled: thoroughly cleaning up the desk drop zone. Which means that yesterday I went through the literal bags of schoolwork that have been staring at me from the desk since last June

Hope your space is enjoying some January organizational tail kicking too!

Switching From Nonstick Pots and Pans to Vintage Enameled Cast Iron

Cast Iron Enamel Pots Pans Le Creuset Dansk Kobenstyle Descoware vintage butter warmerI was going to title this one ‘Piss Off, Nonstick Pots and Pans’, but I thought that may come off a little aggressive. Earlier this year our house made a full switch from nonstick cookware to enameled cast iron pots and pans. Ousting the nonstick has been on the to-do list for years but there always seemed to be more urgent lifestyle changes to be made. The issue finally came to a head when our 12 year old nonstick pans started peeling, making them extra extra bad, so I finally got my crap together and found a solution. I settled on enameled cast iron, mostly for the easy of cleaning and its strong non-toxicity. Bonus: it’s P-R-E-T-T-Y!

Call me crazy – it wouldn’t be the first time – but why shouldn’t everything in our homes, even the stuff hidden behind closed white cupboard doors, be beautiful and colorful and fun? I haven’t read that book about de-cluttering and how each object in your home should elicit joy when you hold it in your hands (I almost used illicit there, ha!), but I’m sure I would fully be onboard. There is a beautiful and awesome version of most every functional object, so that’s the one I think I’d like. If I must have pots and pans, I want the pretty ones. Too shallow?
Cast Iron Enamel Pots Pans Le Creuset Dansk Kobenstyle Descoware vintage butter warmerI had a few vintage Dansk Kobenstyle and Descoware pots and pans already that I’ve been lugging around the country for years but never really using because sometimes I have a stupid urge to save things that I think are special instead of using them. One was even my Grandma’s old orange pot that she gave to me when I moved into my first apartment = especially special, even though I think she gave it to me mostly because it was more my style than hers and she never used it. But it’s lame to have stuff that you don’t use and I really try to not be that way, so the cast iron enamel conclusion was extraordinarily great because I’m finally putting these beauties to work. Vintage Le Creuset Orange dutch oven skillet ocean blue braiser white saucepanI filled in the missing pieces with vintage or used Le Creuset pots, which I’m loving. The Kobenstyles are lookers, but the quality of Le Creuset is incomparable, so much so that even 70’s Dansk design can’t compete. I bought pieces that were in good shape inside but cosmetically not perfect on the outside. These seriously last forever so, as far as I can tell, a 40 year old pot works just as well as a brand new one. I still catch myself throwing an enameled cast iron pan on the stove and cranking the heat to high like I used to do for other pans, which is a bad. But once you get the hang of it, they cook so well and they are deceptively easy to clean.

(Spoiler: I didn’t care well for that little orange skillet up there and destroyed it a few days ago, after I took these!!! I accidentally turned the wrong burner on high, came back 10 minutes later confused about why my kettle of water wasn’t boiling, but also why my normally orange skillet was bright fire red and the enamel inside was bubbling. A scary and expensive mistake. Lesson learned, hopefully, but habits are hard to break. So sad.)

MY FAVORITES:Cast Iron Enamel Pots Pans Vintage Le Creuset Dansk Kobenstyle Mid Century Cookware Flame Ocean Braiser Saute Pan Dutch Oven Saucepan ButterwarmerThere have definitely been stand outs that we use more than others, shown above. For reference, we are a family of 4, we reluctantly cook at home at least once a day, we rarely cook meat (I’m a vegan, husband is a sad carnivore living with a vegan cook), we don’t own a microwave, and we hate doing dishes. For our needs, we could get by daily with these 4 (5) pieces:

  • Le Creuset 4.25 qt Large Saute Pan/Braiser – Newer but bought used. We use this EVERYDAY for everything. Hands down the best pot we’ve got. It does it all and if I could only have one, this would be it.
  • Le Creuset 4.5 qt Dutch Oven – Vintage. I wish I could eat soup everyday but my family is not on board with that. Still, we use this a lot.
  • Le Creuset 2.75 qt Saucepan – Vintage. Maybe I just like to grab this wood handle so I c?
  • Le Creuset Small skillet, #23 – Bought used, don’t know how old it is. Love it for small jobs. ***This is the one I just destroyed, so we are now using a similar vintage Descoware one that does the job but maybe not as good
  • Dansk Kobenstyle Butter Warmer – Vintage but I think they are selling these new again at Crate and Barrel? Not a necessity but we LOVE this little guy and use it so surprisingly regularly.

 

Thank you to the industrial designers out there for making life better through design. I can’t lie and say that I now like cooking. Because it’s so lame. But it’s a better experience than it used to be because it looks like a party in my kitchen. Thanks for reading!
Cast Iron Enamel Pots Pans Le Creuset Dansk Kobenstyle Descoware vintage

P.S. I can’t seem to find a non-nonstick replacement for my nonstick electric griddle…any ideas? We used that thing a lot, probably because of my pancake addiction.