The first room I unpacked was the kitchen. We went through about 2 weeks of eating out prior to our move, because it just seemed unmanageable to cook and then eat in peace in the midst of the boxes, packing materials and things waiting to be packed away. The first bags we carried up to our new home were filled with fresh produce the day before our move, and once all the boxes were here, the kitchen is where I started.
At first sight, things seemed easy. This new kitchen is so much larger and everything is brand new. But it is so different from my last kitchen in so many ways that I realised making it feel like ours was going to be a slight challenge. Disclaimer: this is most definitely nitpicking, there is truly nothing really wrong with anything here. We even have a little wine fridge installed! So the issues I had were of a more intangible nature, and maybe more than a few of you will laugh at my next words: everything seemed too shiny. There are no misfit edges here, so to speak: this is a well-designed catalogue kitchen that is very practical but to me, a bit generic.
So I got to it, unpacking things and putting them away in the many many drawers we now have: things that were before displayed on shelves and gave my old kitchen the atmosphere it had. Functionality is very important to me - especially in this space where I do spend a fair amount of time preparing meals. Thanks to it being an Ikea kitchen, finding organisers for the drawers was super easy - we settled for a beautiful bamboo range that automatically added a bit of the texture I was missing and being very practical - all the spices, groceries, crockery and cutlery have homes in the various drawers now. Since the kitchen is also much less compact than my last, it sometimes takes me longer to get to things - another new aspect, but one that I’ve sort of mastered. This much space is definitely a first for me - there’s even a dedicated drawer for napkins and tableware. So, no complaining really.
What did prove to be a challenge were all the above the counter pieces. I put out my old fruit bowl that I’ve schlepped since my first apartment in London, the books I had out in the last place, various pictures, the condiments I like having near the stove, plants. The lamp I love with the marble base. and everything just looked so out of place! This again is my personal opinion: having the kitchen set up gave us a wonderful sense of belonging and it anchored the apartment a bit, since it’s right in the centre and opens onto the living and dining areas. It made our first few visitors think everything was already done, since you don’t look so closely and objects that seem arranged give out that sense of finish. But for me, every time I walked by or was in the kitchen, I had a nagging sense that things were far from finished. My first instinct was to change the fronts of the drawers and cabinets and make them black. This idea is still on my list, but has moved very far down, because as F pragmatically pointed out, we still have entire rooms that need furnishing and micro managing one isn’t the most practical idea. Even the rug from my old kitchen that had been such an anchor there looked tiny and lost here.
Kangan Arora: Jaali Carpet / Coming soon . Prism Tea Towel
I decided on making the floor a visual anchor and moving from there: using something large and vivid to create a base that would balance out all the white and shiny above. I fell in love with one from Kangan Arora - its now available in-store as well - in a beautiful deep teal with graphic white geometric patterns. My natural tendency would’ve been for something black and white, but this is so much better and brings a great boost of energy to the space.
Step two was removing everything the countertops and starting from scratch. Instead of filling them with bits and bobs, I decided to focus on the two large work surfaces opposite to one another. The one next to the stove needs to be much more practical, since thats where the prepping happens, so what’s stored here is pretty much a given, how to display them remained open. I realised that one of mistakes I’d made in my earlier attempt was putting out too many little things: a saucer for ginger, one for garlic and a bowl for lemons - all next to each other in an attempt to visually fill the countertop. But it was so much clutter and so impractical that I decided to go the other way, streamline as far as possible and add texture through the odd piece - and through the herbs and plants I wanted to have. Another slight stroke of genius I had was to create a ‘backsplash’ - well, sort off, since it isn’t right behind the stove - using an artwork of mine laid horizontally instead of vertically. I feel it makes an interesting graphic background and brings a much needed dose of dark into the space. I’m still not happy with the tray I have under the oil bottles and containers - too close to the colour of the counter, so I’ll keep looking out for something more graphic. And the last bit was adding a black and white melamine plate to the stack of cutting boards - again, visual contrast to the counter. It’s also super practical since I use it to collect scraps whilst I’m cooking. The plants were formerly by the sink: they looked so lost there since they’re smallish and were completely swallowed up by the vast amounts of space around.
The opposite counter is more display: and I realised that my fruit bowl and the lamp were just completely out of place there. I wanted the fruit there though, and on a whim tried out a black marble bowl from the new series we recently launched - and it works so well I added the white piece to it - and I love the look. They’re there yet very subtle and I like that they have no additional flourishes - the fruit make up for it with their different colours and shapes. Next step: books. Stacking them with their spines on view was again just a bad idea: so I tried laying them flat - they were then too close to the height of the fruit bowls - and with the covers facing front - and this finally looked presentable. As a bookend I brought out my lace-finished vase that came from the MoMa store in New York in a friend’s suitcase years ago and that I haven’t really been able to display properly since. I love how it finishes the books and is delicate yet present. It doesn’t even really need flowers in it - I think it’s such a great piece as is.
Another big change was to add the Lean Lamp that I’d had in my living room to the kitchen as the main source of lighting. The ceilings are too low to hang pendants and the sloping roof segments make it difficult to add lamps at the ends of the counters. I also think it makes a great visual divider between the kitchen and living room - I’d tried a chair and a plant previously but they were obviously not the right specimens of each. Since we were trying to re-use as much of what we already had, rather than just buying new pieces, I’ve been shuffling things around to see what works and for me, this was another happy accident. As a second temporary lighting element, we have a little black lamp at the end, but it will probably switch out over time.
I’d also like to add some art to the walls - I’m so nervous of making any unnecessary holes at the moment and still need to hunt for pieces we love, and this isn’t that easy because of all the various slopes and planes. For now though, our kitchen is sort of finished and much cleaner visually than it used to be. I’ve also tried to show the space as it usually is, not overly styled, to give you a sense of the balance I’ve tried to strike between functionality and decoration. There’ll be more from here - and if you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to write in!