Building a house from scratch has its challenges. Just ask Melissa Bahen, the Oregon-based blogger behind LuluTheBaker.com.
In 2006 she and her husband, Matt, fell in love with a large piece of land in the countryside that was the perfect distance from town. When they finally purchased the plot four years later, they quickly got to work on their dream house, creating plans with a draftsman, picking finishes, and finding a contractor. The Bahens had their setbacks, including a snowy winter and a big freeze that halted construction. But the house was move-in ready by 2014.
As life in her new home unfolded, there were little things that Melissa would change—but not the kitchen.
Melissa drew inspiration from magazines and Pinterest for the bright, airy space with dark accents. As the focal point of the room, an oversize maple-topped island provides ample work space for mixing and chopping—with help from Melissa’s four sous chefs: Addie, 12; Ellie, 9; James, 6; and George, 3.
"This kitchen was many years in the making, and it was absolutely worth the wait," says Melissa.
White subway-tile walls bounce light around the space, helpful when she’s photographing her creations in the often gray Pacific Northwest. Open shelves keep everyday dishware at the ready, while a mix of Shaker-style drawers and lower cabinets stores heavy pots and pans. Two sinks—the apron-front in the corner of the room and the smaller prep style in the island—were a splurge, but they allow Melissa and Matt to cook and wash dishes together. The appliances, from the double wall ovens to the eight-burner Blue Star stove, are a food blogger’s dream.
“We couldn’t gather in our last kitchen,” says Melissa. “Now I’m able to do my work thing, and we can actually hang with friends and family here.”
When you bake a ton, best to have ample provisions. Melissa stashes flour and sugar in restaurant-size containers, which fit nicely into two pullout drawers (top left). A steady supply of fresh eggs doesn’t hurt either, and Melissa’s chicken coop (top right) delivers. When the kids (Ellie and James, bottom) aren’t helping in the kitchen, they’re drawing and crafting in the breakfast nook.