We don’t know about you, but our pets are some of the best sous chefs we’ve ever had. They’re always in the kitchen to keep us company, they’ll eat anything we make and we can always rely on them to clean up the mess on the floor. We’re paying special tribute to our favorite kitchen companions by making today’s Love Your Kitchen Challenge all about them.
We’ve teamed up with the gals at The Kitchn this month to inspire you to transform your kitchen into the perfect space to cook, eat and socialize in. From a full-length feature in our October issue on how to love, love, LOVE your kitchen, to our month-long Love Your Kitchen Challenge, we’re pulling out all the stops in preparation for the time of year when your kitchen works the hardest: the holidays.
We’re halfway through with the Love Your Kitchen Challenge and your kitchens (and ours!) are looking better than ever. Week 3 focuses on organizing and storage, getting you prepped for the next 7 days to decorate, create and treat yourself (and your pet!). Don’t forget to enter up to once daily to win $2,500 through Instagram by tagging your challenge photos with #RRKitchenLoveSweepstakes. Good luck!
Week 3 Challenges
Monday, September 22: Zone out
Create a cooking zone—a space that holds your most-used items (like olive oil, garlic and salt) close to where you use them most: the stove!
Tuesday, September 23: Find your sweet spot
Your treat stash needs a home! Show us where you keep your candy, salty snacks and other crave-worthy goodies.
Wednesday, September 24: Pantry Staple Wednesday
Reorganize your stocked pantry so that ingredients you use together are stored together. Group items for Italian dishes in one place and Mexican recipes in another. Then, make a meal using one of your staples.
Thursday, September 25: Don’t fall flat
Find a new spot to store oversized items (like cutting boards and baking sheets) so they don’t take up too much drawer space. Try a large basket or stack them vertically on a shelf.
Friday, September 26: Pet show
Animals can make your kitchen an even happier place. Snap and share a photo of your furry friends in the heart of your home.
Saturday, September 27: Weekend project
Get out the drill! Add a new storage solution to your kitchen: hang a shelf on the wall, install a magnetic knife strip or put up a new pot rack.
Now that our editor-in-chief, Lauren Purcell, is finally done with her kitchen renovation, she’s sharing her thoughts on what she would do differently next time.
1. Took a Vacation
During the dustiest, loudest, most disruptive phase of the renovation–the demolition of the old kitchen–I was at the beach. Smart move.
2. Relied on Expert Advice
Luckily for me, my designer understood my insane schedule, and for most big design decisions, she presented me with a carefully curated array of options (five paint colors, not 25), so I could make choices quickly.
3. Listed My Major Must-Haves
For instance, I clearly articulated my ideal appliance layout (fridge and range on the same wall); cabinet configuration (floor to ceiling); and flooring (cork). That helped streamline the process.
Shoulda Done This, Too
1. Planned Another Getaway Six Weeks Later
That’s around the time I really hit my limit on living in my bedroom on toaster-oven cuisine and takeout Thai. By the time I was able to emerge from my lady-cave, I was almost too cooped-up and cranky to appreciate the beautiful new space.
2. Picked a Few Details to Focus On
Making choices from a limited selection was definitely efficient. But as it turns out, the aspects I love most about my new kitchen are the ones I got more involved with–like the ceiling fixture, which I picked out after a long, enjoyable afternoon at the lighting showroom. In retrospect, I wish I had done the same with a few other items. I think I’d love my backsplash even more if the tile felt like my personal discovery.
3. Mentioned the Little Stuff
What I didn’t communicate very well were some of the details that make a big difference in my day-to-day. All my lights are on dimmers (big request), but the switches themselves aren’t the kind I prefer–too fiddly. of course, they’re easily changed. But next time, I’ll remember to bring up anything I’m opinionated about, not just the biggies. Wait! Did I just commit in writing to a next time?
…Is what my mom said when Patty Smyth—the singer/songwriter aptly known for “Goodbye to You”—attempted to repo our stove.
You see, the coastal Brooklyn house my mom bought in 1976 had long been a second home to Patty, whose stepmother, Cookie, had grown up there. The stove that came with the place was indeed a beauty: the same vintage Chambers model Rach used to have on her set, except ours was powder blue, not yellow.
Every once in a while Patty would swing by the house to see how the stove was doing. Well, to say hi to the family, too, but mostly to make sure her cherished heirloom was still around.
Once, when I was in college, my mom called me and said, “John is here and wants the stove.”
Me: “John who?”
Mom: “Johnny Mac.”
Mom: “Yeah—and I told him over my dead body.”
Yes, she summarily shot down the era’s most famous tennis player—who also happened to be Patty’s husband.
My mother loved that stove. Never mind that we had to light the burners with a match. Or that the oven wasn’t spacious enough to hold a decent turkey (sort of crucial when you host Thanksgiving every year). Or that the merest breeze would kill the pilot light along with the burners, and we’d have to wait at least 30 minutes before turning the gas back on—or risk getting blown off our feet by a gas surge (believe me, I know from personal experience).
Despite all the stove’s shortcomings, her love for it was unflinching, no matter how much her culinary-minded children pleaded for an upgrade. After all, this stove had been her trusty sidekick throughout her adult life. Those burners heated the first meal she made as a homeowner—and the water for my first bottle. That oven helped us celebrate every conceivable family milestone—and achievement, big or small.
But after this 36-year love affair, everything changed in an instant: The night Sandy hit, five feet of water swallowed the stove whole.
You know the rest of this story by now—about the devastation and loss that reached far and wide. And while the household essentials were comparatively minor casualties, my mother couldn’t bear to part with the stove. She often said it had a soul; the prospect of discarding such a beloved being broke her heart.
Now, even after her herculean mold-, rust-, grime- and debris-removal efforts, the poor thing is still “resting” outside while we search for ever more advanced resurrection methods.
In its place sits a shiny new oven big enough to hold a 40-pound turkey—much to her children’s delight. But somehow, mom hasn’t quite gotten used to the idea that knobs alone can fire up burners. No matches required.
Patty did stop by the house after Sandy to make sure we were okay. And of course, to check on the Chambers. She was saddened by its streaks and corroded innards, but relieved it was still there.
I’ve urged my mother to pay it…backward and relinquish the stove to Patty. And you know what? Mom’s almost there. But I have a feeling that “almost” could last for a while.
Written by Chris Jette, Meredith senior marketing manager
I was that kid who in kindergarten was an avid earner of gold stars. In grade school, I cared a lot about my report card. Which may explain my dismay that years later I’m scraping by with a C-minus in kitchen renovation. I have yet to create the binder of inspiration pages torn from magazines that I imagine every “good” renovator has. It took me three weeks to sign off on the refrigerator my designer recommended because I insisted on seeing it in person. I’m the worst kind of perfectionist—one who’s also a procrastinator.
Or maybe I procrastinate because I’m a perfectionist. That’s the diagnosis I got when I confessed all to my “kitchen therapist,” ApartmentTherapy.com’s Maxwell Ryan. “You want the renovation to be perfect, but you’re also afraid it’s going to fail,” he said.
Maxwell has a hilarious (but scarily right-on) trick for grouping renovators into four types: Each is one of the Beatles. “You’re George Harrison, the idealist, the guy who took the band to India,” he teased me. “You’re making a simple kitchen renovation into a whole journey.” Luckily, he also told me what I could do about it—and I asked him for advice for the other Beatles, too, so you can identify yourself and make good progress on your own project.
–Lauren Purcell, Editor-in-Chief
What Type Of Renovator Are You?
Tell us below in the comments.
YOU’RE A TOE-TAPPER IF…
you’re take-charge and decisive but can be impatient. You’re fiery, with a bit of a temper.
YOUR SPIRIT-BEATLE: John Lennon. “He ran off with Yoko,” Maxwell says. “He pushed boundaries to get results.”
SO NOW WHAT? To avoid making snap decisions you might regret later, “readjust your time line to account for the fact that some details require a little reflection,” Maxwell says.
YOU’RE AN ENTHUSIAST IF…
you’re easy to please, sometimes too easy. Does “Oh, but I like all of them!” sound familiar?
YOUR SPIRIT-BEATLE:Paul McCartney. “He’s charming, always happy and never cared how much time it took to finish an album because he enjoyed the process,” Maxwell says.
SO NOW WHAT?Let your designer know that less is more—fewer options means you’ll make decisions more quickly.
YOU’RE A PERFECTIONIST IF…
you want—need!—things to be exactly right. So you agonize over even the smallest detail.
YOUR SPIRIT-BEATLE:George Harrison. “He was the introspective one, the idealist,” Maxwell says.
SO NOW WHAT?Hire a designer who’s also a perfectionist. That way you can trust that she’s picking the four best backsplash tiles from the hundreds of options. And you can stop obsessing.
YOU’RE A ZEN MASTER IF…
you believe in the slow and steady approach. You take direction well and appreciate support.
YOUR SPIRIT-BEATLE:Ringo Starr. “He’s calm and cool,” Maxwell says. “He’s probably got the lowest blood pressure, too!”
SO NOW WHAT? You may need a slight kick to get things moving, so set goals and deadlines with your designer—and then ask him to really push you to meet them.
Follow along with Lauren as she shares her progress and everything else, from the appliances to keeping costs down to injecting personality into one of the most important rooms in her home.
According to our friends at Twitter, granite countertops are mentioned in tweets twice as often as marble countertops. So we wanted to know what YOU think? Which do you prefer and why?
If you’re working on your own renovation, that means to dream a little bit! Collect images of rooms that you love. The goal is to give yourself a guiding star that will pull and excite you (because the rest of the process can get you stuck in the weeds and you’re going to have to change you mind a lot). “Starting out with a firm idea of inspiration will act as your lighthouse to carry you across the sea that you’re going to embark on throughout the course of your renovation,” Ryan says.
Renovating is tough. Just figuring out where to begin is hard work! So to make it a little easier, we’re bringing design guru from ApartmentTherapy.com, Maxwell Ryan, to our “kitchen table” to talk with YOU in a series of Facebook chats.
To kick it off, we’re focusing our first chat on the woes and worries of starting the renovation process and opening it up to any and all of your questions. Is it knowing who to hire and when? Or maybe it’s deciding whether to start your renovation with the floors or the ceiling? Or perhaps you just want to know if gray is really going to look good in your kitchen? Whatever your concerns, now’s your time to tap our expert and get your need-to-know renovation answers. Hope to see you there!
Can’t make the chat? Leave your question in the “Comments” below and we’ll ask Maxwell for you, then post the response afterward!
We told you all about our editor-in-chief, Lauren Purcell’s, kitchen renovation. Now, take a peek at the “before” photos of her 61-square-foot kitchen (it’s in Manhattan, people!). She shared Instagram pics of the space and filled us in on some of her most troublesome elements.
”The best part about my kitchen now is that it faces a big window in my living room.”
”I’d like to hide the recycling and garbage bins, but I don’t want to have to open trash drawers with dirty hands. Do they make doors you open with your feet?”
“The faucet has sprung a tiny leak. (Hey, you can’t have sufficiently awful “Before” photos without some duct tape.)”
“Nice gaps between the counter and appliances, eh? I dread discovering what’s fallen down there!”
“OK, I have no shame: I’m revealing to the world that I’m using a scrunchie to remind me not to pull the bottom of the microwave handle, which has detached. (The scrunchie is meant to go on a wine bottle, not a ponytail. Does that redeem me at all?)”
“A nonfunctioning oven means two things: lots of sautéing and more storage!”