Oh, hi there! I'm sorry I disappeared. It seems I took the summer off. Life got surprisingly busy for a while there, but I'm working on getting back into the blogging groove.
I spend a great deal of time thinking about kitchens. Oh, do I love to cook, you ask? No. Not really. I want to love to cook, but usually I'm so hungry and exhausted when I get home at night that I can't even contemplate the idea of cooking. Because cooking isn't just cooking - it's a time-sucking and energy intensive event. It's going to the store, acquiring ingredients, hauling them home, chopping/sautéing/simmering/baking them, serving them, then eating them, and, when it's all over, cleaning them and all of the dishes up. Seriously? No, thank you. Eating falls far too late in that chain of events. And I love to eat.
And so, to Seamless.com I go.
The thing is, while I don't necessarily cook on a daily basis, Matt and I do like to entertain when we can, and I also -- despite the not cooking -- seem to spend a lot of time in the kitchen every day... making coffee, dealing with mail, assembling whatever Seamless.com has delivered, doing the dishes, wiping off the counters, replacing the sponge.... etc. etc. etc. I also find that, for whatever reason, when gathering, people tend to gravitate towards the kitchen regardless of how messy or tiny it is.
And so my thoughts are: Cooking? Eh. But kitchens? YES!
I love kitchens. Adore them. Dream about them. Want to live in them. Etc.
Which brings me to our kitchen. It's in desperate need of a renovation. It's super charming in that old, New York apartment galley kitchen kind of way, but it's not the kind of kitchen that inspires kitchen envy and causes hyperventilation. There is pealing wallpaper, track lighting that burns out weekly, ancient appliances and a sink that reminds me of camp kitchens.
We will, at some point, renovate, but I find decisions of this sort extremely difficult. There are so many fabulous options out there, how could you possibly decide on just one? It's much more fun to dream than to actually execute. In the dreaming phase, there are no price tags or finding contractors or measuring space... there's only big ideas and space for kitchen islands and the possibility of floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening onto terraces.
Over the next few weeks, I will share with you some photos of kitchens that I find inspiring for one reason or another. Today's focus will be on subway tiles. Economical, clean, modern. There's something very delightful about them. A beauty in the utility. They're meant to be juxtaposed against windows and light - not underground. You can be playful with them, through pattern or grout, use them to create a wash of color or to create contrast. You can dress them up or dress them down. They're useful and above all, quite beautiful in their simplicity.
Scroll down to see 10 of my current subway tile crushes. Which images do you like best?
Happy Monday and have a happy week!
Daylight Savings Time seemed to come inexplicably early this year (perhaps it was the snow on the ground or the fact that I'm still wearing a winter coat that threw me off?), but I'm not one to complain about a little more light at the end of the day. Matt and I spent the majority of our Sunday binge-watching True Detective on HBO Go, and at 6pm, I looked out the window to see that IT WAS STILL LIGHT OUT. OMG. It's cold, but it's light. I will take it. Warmth must follow, right? It simply must.
But back to light.
Light is very important for our well-being. And when it is not readily available to us, we can create it in spaces. I made this little watercolor when I was taking an interior rendering course at Parsons and we were instructed to paint something using only grey tones. For my inspiration, I had torn out a page from Elle Décor (back in 2008, when there was no Pinterest) of a kitchen in the Hamptons by Emma Jane Pilkington (it is the home of Emma and Chris Cuomo, all of which is drool-worthy), and I loved it because there was so much light, like the outdoors were just flooding into the interior space.
I remember the instructor noting that the painting seemed unfinished and that I must not have had enough time (which was true), but I actually like that it's not finished. It's a bit sketchier that way and more about capturing the light rather than the detailing on those rattan bags.
I could have at any point in the last 6 years chosen to "finish" it, but I've decided not to (partly because of laziness and partly because I don't want to "ruin" a good thing).
The painting sat around in our apartment since that class -- on a desk, on a dresser -- and this year it finally found its way onto a wall in our bathroom. Our bathroom has only one tiny window and one fluorescent light, and adding this little painting (it's 9x12") felt almost as if we'd added a window to the space!
See below for the before and after.
It's not a huge change, but it makes me happy. It sits opposite the mirror (with the single fluorescent light), and when you look in the mirror now, you get a burst of Hamptons light coming at you instead of just that single source of bad lighting. And somehow that little grey tone painting draws on the lovely purple wallpaper that our previous owners left behind. Happy accidents!
Happy Monday and Happy DST! Enjoy the extra light!
It's Day Two of Kate's Favorite Things, and today I've moved from home gadgetry to kitchen fixins.
We tend not to buy ourselves items for the kitchen, but we certainly need them. Giving whimsical kitchen accessories is a nice way to give something fun while also giving something practical. Below is a list of some of my favorite things, some things I'm giving this year, and a few things I'd love to have. They're great for people who love to cook... for people who wish they liked to cook a bit more than they actually do... and for people who just generally, you know, use a kitchen from time to time.
Read on for some ideas at all types of price points. Again... these are great gifts for others... and also for yourself!
Kate's Favorite Things - Kitchen Edition!
Alma Mater Tervis Cup, $13 for 16 oz, $17 for 24 oz
I gave Matt some NYU Law Tervis cups last year for Christmas and personalized them with his name (it seems strange for a gift, but when you buy two and personalize them, the cost can add up - Matt is also very difficult to shop for and appreciates function and practicality over anything else). Glasses that I can't shatter on our bedside table in the middle of the night seem pretty practical to me, and over time, I've realized these Tervis cups were more a gift to me than to Matt.
Tervis cups are awesome. They're big, indestructible and dishwasher safe. I use mine for water or for the fruits of my Sodastream labor. Icy cold and refreshing.
The cups come in all shapes and sizes. I have the 16 oz. and am planning to procure the 24 oz. in the near future. As of last year, Tervis didn't sell Dartmouth branded cups, so I am pretty excited right about now about this Big D addition. There are all sorts of ways you can order a Tervis cup, but the collegiate branding is my favorite. I also like the classic clear and colorful options. Clean, simple, and durable.
Ginormous Coffee Mugs, ~$15.00, from dartmouthcoop.com (amongst other places)
You know what I like with my Keurig machine in the morning? A ginormous coffee mug to hold my coffee. Any big coffee mug is great, but I love a good alma matter nod every now and then, and a coffee mug is a great way to show your spirit and also claim your cup. Like all the gifts listed here, coffee mugs are something I don't normally buy for myself, but they are also strangely personal: The cup has to have the right look and feel, you know? Something that makes you think, I'm not happy to be out of bed, but at least I can drink coffee out of this awesome mug.
I splurged on two of these Dartmouth Brazo Mugs, $14.99, when I was up in the Hanover area over the summer (one for Matt and one for me) and wish I'd gotten two more so I would never wake up to find that yesterday's mugs were still in the dirty dishwasher. They're awesomely big (18 oz.), so they can hold a healthy pour of milk on top of your largest Keurig coffee cup button brew, but they're not so wide (like café au lait mugs) that you can't hold the cup with one hand. This Juliska mug, $30, is a close second.
Most college and university bookstores sell some version of coffee mugs, and I always think a mug is a nice thing to have around the house or the office. Sports teams and personalized mugs are also a great option. And I am also on occasion a fan of moderately humorous mugs, like these grammatically correct mugs for grammar freaks.
Good Home Co. Lavender Hand Soap, $16.00, from goodhomestore.com
This soap smells amazingly pure (and is totally organic). My mother-in-law gave it to us, and we have it next to the sink. After doing the dishes, it's a delight to wash your hands in this lovely lavender scent. All of the Good Home Co. products are great, but this one is my favorite. I also like to keep the lavender surface cleaner, $18.00, around so I can wipe down the counters whenever they need a swipe of cleanliness (and every evening).
Le Creuset Stoneware Spoon Rest, $22, from Williams Sonoma
Someone in my family might be receiving this for Christmas after mentioning it several times, and I've since realized that it's a truly excellent gift to give and receive...because who buys themselves a spoon rest? And how delightful is it to have one?
If the recipient already has Le Creuset cookware, go ahead and match the color! If not, go wild or stay safe depending on the recipient's personality. FYI, "flame" (orange) is the "signature" color (my pots and pans are flame, and it's a very classic color), and the red is also a safe bet for a kitchen.
Le Creuset Oven Mitt, $15
I'm having a bit of a love affair with Le Creuset at the moment (triggered by someone's desire for a spoon rest, which snowballed into a full blown assessment of everything that Le Creuset makes - and everything they make is very good, so my list grew quickly). Oven mitts -- good oven mitts, that is -- are hard to come by and should be acquired when found. I gave my mom oven mitts for Mother's Day last year from Williams Sonoma and while she was pleased (they were simply a replacement of what she already owned), she said that the quality isn't as good as it used to be. Le Creuset knows bakeware, and thus I feel they know how to protect your skin as you handle their hot bakeware. Hence the addition of an oven mitt to my favorite kitchen things list. Get two. People tend to use two hands when they handle heavy, hot things. And throw in a few potholders while you're at it. What color? Doesn't matter. I of course love the flame (orange has long been one of my favorite colors, and I hear orange is the new black), but the black is pretty great as well. I've never seen a black oven mitt before, and now I think I really want a set of them. It feels chic.
Le Creuset Kitchen Towels - Set of 3, $25 (down from $30) at zappos.com
While we're on the subject of great kitchen necessities... and my obsessions Le Creuset... and my obsession with orange things... let's take a quick gander at these fabulous towels. Everyone could use a few more kitchen towels, and who wants to buy them for themselves? $25 for 3 towels? In flame orange? Done. Add in some other Le Creuset accessories, and you're set.
Le Creuset Large Utensil Crock, $29.99, from zappos.com
We registered for this on a whim (actually I forced the registering for it, Matt argued with me), but it's turned out to be one of our favorite items in the kitchen. We have the red, but all of the colors are great (I'm pretty smitten with the white). It's perfect to keep next to the stove to hold all of your cooking utensils.
If your recipient doesn't have any utensils at all, then pop for the Le Creuset Revolution™ 6-Piece Utensil Set, $85. White, Flame and Marseille are my favorites.
Juliska Thread & Berry Ramekin, $15, from juliska.com (but buy at least two!)
I have four of these and wish I had about 15 more. They're so useful for everything, food or otherwise - small servings of food for yourself, dips and whatnot for groups of people, and things like sugar packets by the Keurig. Really, anything. Stinge not and buy a few -- your recipient will thank you.
This Quotidien Collection ramekin, $12, is pretty great too.
Measuring Cubs, $36, from Anthropologie
I mean, there are no words. These are just too darn cute for words!
They are hand-wash only, which is a downer, but they're so cute I think I just don't care (and I care very much about things being able to go in the dishwasher). They have a bit of a vintage feel, but also feel modern in their simplicity; and they also remind me of the Pillsbury Doughboy (vintage and modern in his own right).
Get these for someone who finds regular measuring spoons a bit boring.
Le Creuset Heritage Deluxe Round Trivet, 9", $65 from Williams Sonoma
Trivets are one of those things that you never think to buy for yourself and that you then realize you desperately need when you're about to serve something piping hot and just out of the oven. Give the gift of planning ahead with a trivet like this fabulous one from Le Creuset. It comes in a variety of colors, but I'm currently digging the Aubergine (and of course my favorite Flame). With a trivet, you can either try to match the color to the recipient's cookwear or go for something entirely out there... because, why not go there when you can?
Ceramic Cookie Jars from Anthropologie, $68-$128
Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? Something tells me this guilty little bow-tied guy could venture a guess or two. You don't need to be a cookie baker or Cookie Monster to want to have this Pedigreed Cookie Jar, Bulldog, $98, in your kitchen. I haven't seen a cookie jar actually used for cookies in maybe 20 years, but I love a good cookie jar with great personality. And this little guy is just brimming with personality. He's also just begging to be named something like Humphrey or Sir Grumperton... or Sir Humphrey Grumperton...
Sir Humphrey Grumperton could hold any number of things, like k-cups for your Keurig (he won't judge how many cookies you eat -- in fact, he'd appreciate if you'd share a few with him too -- and he certainly won't judge how much coffee you drink) or a boatload of loose change or dog treats for your pooch. His neutral coloring of whites, tans and greys with shots of blue and red will work in a variety of kitchen color schemes. Just make sure the recipient's tongue is located somewhat near their cheek.
If you don't want your gift recipient to feel a little bit sorry for their new cookie jar (as Sir Humphrey Grumperton is wont to do), then perhaps a prim and proper cookie jar is the way to go. This Pedigreed Cookie Jar, Spaniel, $128, is a pretty phenomenal knockoff of antique Staffordshire figurines like this Delightful Pair of 19th Century Staffordshire Pottery Dogs, $3,058.00 (left) (I mean, seriously, look at that!). And it serves the extra purpose of holding things. A thing that holds other things? You know I'll like it. And if your gift recipient is a bit of a traditionalist who likes a touch of whimsy in the kitchen, then they'll like it too.
Juliska Dessert Plate Set (4), $168, from juliska.com (each plate individually sold for $42)
Matt and I use these as everyday dinner plates rather than dessert plates (they're 9.5" wide!), and we save our dinner plates for larger occasions. I just love the detailing on these. They make every meal seem special, even if it's seamless.com delivery (which it often is). You can buy these as a set or choose certain plates individually. We have four of the Villandry collection plate and two of the Gardens of Heligan plate (my secret favorite), but they're all really beautiful. Choose one or choose the set. You can't lose, and your recipient will be very happy.
Simon Pearce Hartland Candlestick Set - S, $215.00
These aren't totally a kitchen item, but they're certainly related - especially if you have a breakfast nook or eat-in kitchen. We received this candlestick set from Simon Pearce as a wedding gift (off-registry!), and we were totally thrilled. I love getting off-registry gifts because, when they're right, they're memorable and and soo something you would have registered for if you'd thought of it. This is one such example. I have them on our dining room table and just love looking at them. They're a perfect combination of casual and elegant and go great with our Juliska dinnerware when we have dinner parties and want everything to be nice but not formal. They're also just great for an everyday look for the table (whether you use the table often or not). Bonus? Simon Pearce customer service is just delightful. One of the candlesticks shattered recently after a taper burned down too close to the glass (had I known that could happen, surely I wouldn't have let it burn down so far), and customer service replaced my broken candlestick with a new one - and told me never to play with fire again.
Feeling inspired??? I certainly am. Now get cooking!
I am a designer and financial professional with a background in comparative literature, business and design. I live in New York with my overworked lawyer husband and sweet, art-and-design-loving toddler son and spend much of my free time dreaming about how to enhance the aesthetics of our little world. I am endlessly inspired and always in search of something new. This is a blog about my search, my inspiration and things I just really, really like or want.
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