Sunday, July 1, 2012

Taking on the kitchen

So I have removed an item from my to-do list: paint kitchen. I decided it just wasn't a priority for me in terms of time and money. Instead, I decided to embrace the mint green and go for a more "retro kitchen" look. I've long loved the fifties kitchen look -- basically I wish I could live in a retro diner. Chrome. Formica. Yes please. Plus I realized that many of my kitchenwares are "retro"/"vintage" already, insofar as many of them come from my grandmother who actually had a fifties kitchen. So instead of a giant overhaul, I decided to focus on ways to bring more of the kitchen items I already had (plus a few new ones, I admit) out into the open to provide some pops of color and character.

The one painting thing I did was to finally paint over a giant white area that's been in the kitchen almost since the first day we moved in, in Fall 2010. Back then there was a very old stove/oven in the kitchen, which was awesome aesthetically (definitely fit the retro vibe -- from what I can recall, it looked something like this) but wasn't actually the most functional. Our landlord had it removed and a new one installed almost immediately, though, when it became apparent that the old one was leaking gas (yikes!) and couldn't be fixed. That left a moderate-sized hole in the wall where a vent on the previous oven had  been connected, and our landlord patched it up but never repainted. We got kind of used to it after awhile and never pressed for it to be repainted, until this spring our landlord mentioned it and I said I'd be happy to paint it if he'd just tell me where to find the mint green paint. Last weekend I finally got my act together to take the 10 minutes (plus about 15 minutes finding the right paint in our scary basement) to fix it up, and it's so much better!

Here's a (terrible) before photo of that (terrible) unpainted area:

And now here's the view of the stove. It's totally embarrassing how long I took to paint over that given how much time I've poured into other home projects, it looks sooooo much better now (though still mint green).

The clock I found at Goodwill. I love the dimension and color. In the photo above it looks like a pretty generic wall clock, but in the photo below you can see its depth and coloring more.

And our (new) tea kettle, another splash of red. We've been needing a new one for awhile since ours had a tendency to spill boiling water on your hand when you tried to pour it, so I felt good about picking up a new (and brighter) one.

The shelf next to the stove is pretty much my favorite thing ever (as I've mentioned before), I just love the look of the whole thing with the kitchen supplies for some reason.

On the top shelf are some bottles I saved from wine and such. Okay, maybe it's a little "undergrad unchic," but I like it anyway and the shelf is too high and narrow to really do much with anyway.

Below that is the shelf with our immortal pothos plant -- we've had it for three years and despite the fact that we've killed every other plant we've owned this one keeps on thriving somehow. Next to that is Sam's espresso cup set, and a few kitchen guide books.

Then comes my grandma's spice rack, which is a delicious mix of bronze and wood.

And then of course all the things that don't fit in the well-ordered spice rack...

And then lastly our cookbooks. Plus our knife block, well placed if a baby every comes to our apartment and needs to be able to borrow a chef's knife without asking for help reaching it.

I also finally found a solution to our pot lid problem -- ie that we didn't have anywhere convenient to store the lids to our pots (our pots hang on a bar near the stove that we installed shortly after we moved in). We kept the pot lids in a drawer in the pantry, but more often we actually kept them stacked on the stove because it was a pain to put them away between every use (we tend to use the same lids every day, and the drawers in the pantry stick and are generally a pain to get to because of some poor layout issues). Then I came across a great idea for wall storage of lids: a wall-mount magazine rack. So I found one that fit the bill on Amazon, mounted it next to the pot rack, and voila, a place for our lids!

To further accessorize with some of kitchware, I mounted an inexpensive towel bar on the back door (which is situated on the wall between the pantry door and the fridge, see floor plan if you're curious) and bought a few packages of "s" hooks at the hardware store to hang things with. Then I pulled a few of our most colorful items -- yellow watering can, orange vegetable steamer, red colander, and the amaaaazing apron that my mom made for Sam for his birthday. You can see on the bib of it that she quilted the shape of a person running and holding a serving dish, tying to two of Sam's favorite activities: running and cooking. Isn't she the best?

Anyway, I like the new storage for these!

We also have open storage for our silverware. We don't have any drawers in the kitchen large enough for a silverware tray, and see aforementioned description of pot lid issue for why we don't want to use the pantry drawers for daily use things. The wooden caddies we're using for the silverware are from IKEA. I made the artwork behind them using a frame I found on the sidewalk (woohoo), a dish towel with a silverware print from Target that I snagged because I thought it might be fun to use for some sort of kitchen art, and some yellow fabric I had on hand from making a throw pillow cover. Lastly, the green canisters for flour and sugar I found at Goodwill.

In our Central Square apartment, we mounted hooks under our cabinets to hang our mugs and we loved it. In this apartment, the cabinet bottoms are some thin particle board or something and we didn't want to screw into them, so we kept our mugs in a cabinet. Last week as part of my "accessorize the kitchen" kick I bought an accordion wall rack on Etsy and mounted it below the shelf that's above the sink. Then I hung a few of our most frequently-used mugs, plus a dishcloth that my crafty mom made. On the shelf we keep (from left to right) some salt and pepper shakers from my grandma (they have a cute blue flower print and match the rest of our dishware), a jar of brown sugar (I use it a lot in oatmeal), a glass jar with our garlic cloves, a container of chili oil, more salt and pepper shakers (yep, we have two sets on the same shelf -- also from my grandmother, I love these ones too), and some hand lotion to use after dish washing.

Anyway, those are some small things in the kitchen I've been working on that I thought I'd share. Not as dramatic as a big makeover, but sometimes the little things can go a long way to making a space look better and work better. I have a few other kitchen projects in the works to share down the line!

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