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Idea: Tea Towel Curtains

When I saw this image over at The Kitchn last week, I knew I had to re-post it here. Tea towels as curtains- what a wonderful idea! Hanging on a simple rod, this looks cheerful and modern and oh so practical. I just love it.

Cool Idea: Beakers in the Kitchen

The other day, my Mum (of all people) sent me a link to a pretty awesome food blog, Momofuku for 2. The author Steph is cooking and blogging her way through the Momofuku cookbook. While I loved her idea and writing, it was the regular appearance of lab beakers in her photographs that piqued my interest. (Apparently I’m not the only one- she addresses it in her FAQ, too.)

Beakers in the Kitchen

Beakers in the Kitchen

Beakers in the Kitchen

See how pretty? If you think about it, it also makes good sense. Lab glass is heat resistant, cold-resistant and crack-resistant, and beakers are shaped and marked for cooking practicality. Now I’m craving a couple beakers for my kitchen, too. (I’d also like use them for floral arrangements, like this.)

You can pick up beakers at any scientific supply store or on amazon.

Kitchen Ideas: 5 Ways to Recharge a Rental

Over at The Kitchn they’ve just wrapped up the annual Small, Cool Kitchens Contest. There were some great spaces entered this year, and I enjoyed browsing them all. I was also struck by how the competition was organized, with separate categories for International and American spaces, and also for owners and renters.

That second distinction struck a chord with me. As a renter, I know that those of us not yet on the property ladder can be somewhat limited in our decorating abilities. We don’t necessarily have the countertops, cabinets or layout of our dreams, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have attractive kitchens! Here are my top five tips for adding style to a rental space, using the latest batch of small, cool kitchens as visuals.

1. A Lick of Paint (or Paper)
So, maybe your floor is ugly linoleum and your countertops are faux granite (mine are). You still have walls, right? Paint is one of the fastest ways to add colour and interest to a space, as this bright blue New York kitchen proves:

5 Ways to Recharge a Rental

If you think your landlord would allow it, you could even paint the cabinets, as in this sunny San Francisco kitchen:

5 Ways to Recharge a Rental

Wallpaper is another good option. It works especially well (and is less time-consuming to tackle) on one statement wall, as in this sweet space:

5 Ways to Recharge a Rental

2. Look to the Lighting
As any kitchen designer will tell you, lighting is imperative not just to the practicality of your kitchen, but to its ambiance. Unless you have pot lighting in your rental, a simple change of fixture could be all your space needs. I like how the lights in Kate’s kitchen contribute to her colour scheme:

5 Ways to Recharge a Rental

And the modern-retro pendant in this eclectic Philidelphia space works great, too:

5 Ways to Recharge a Rental

3. Let Art Impart Style
We already know I’m a fan of art in the kitchen, so this tip should come as no surprise. Use what wall space you have to add colour, humour, or communicate who you are. The poster in this Portland Bungalow kitchen works perfectly with the tiled backsplash:

5 Ways to Recharge a Rental

While Addie’s Cape Cod home features an oldie-but-goodie:

5 Ways to Recharge a Rental

I especially like the sweet vintage-feel art in Alysia’s lake house:

5 Ways to Recharge a Rental

4. Fun and Funky Accessories
If you don’t have the wall space for paintings and posters, you can still add colour in other ways. Pick your kitchen accessories carefully, and arrange them in an artful way. I love the turquoise dishes (and door knobs- how cute!) in this Las Vegas kitchen:

5 Ways to Recharge a Rental

Alison has made storage work for her, with retro steel, blue-and-green touches and wicker baskets in her Burlington home:

5 Ways to Recharge a Rental

5. Stand-Alones that Stand Alone
If you can’t move everything that you don’t like out, how about moving something else in? Megumi’s Brussels kitchen features vintage filing cabinets under a wooden worktop, which she uses as regular cabinets:

5 Ways to Recharge a Rental

Ronna is a professional cook, and she added a big wooden island (for work space and storage) as well as an awesome metal equipment shelf to her Brooklyn kitchen:
5 Ways to Recharge a Rental

5 Ways to Recharge a Rental

Kitchen Storage: Ten Cool Ideas

Storage is a perpetual problem for me, and I’m far from alone on this matter. It doesn’t matter how big or small our spaces are, there just never seems to be enough room for all our stuff, am I right? In the kitchen it can be particularly tricky, especially balancing practicality with design. Today I’ve put together ten ideas on stylish and space-saving kitchen storage.

1. Vintage charm. If you’ve got a spare wall or part thereof, don’t automatically jump to adding built-in units. A vintage dresser or armoire can store your plates just as well, and adds a bit of personality, too. I like this painted hutch from County Living.

Kitchen Storage: Vintage charm

2. Open it up. With that same wall, you could also try some open, industrial-style shelving. These blue-painted shelves, also from Country Living, look lovely, and the metal boxes keep things neat.

Kitchen Storage: Open it up

3. Pretty pegboard. Pegboard might not be a new idea, but it’s still a pretty good one. You can paint it any colour, and use as much or as little as you like. Go for a small square on the wall, a larger piece covering the back of a door, even a whole wall. This lovely teal board comes from Australian mag Inside Out, via Apartment Therapy.

Kitchen Storage: Pretty pegboard

4. Through the cupboard door. The slim space just inside a cupboard or pantry door can be a great find. Think of a magnetic strip for knives, a hook for spare tea towels, or a slim custom-built spice rack. In this image from Martha Stewart, pot lids are held up with towel racks.

Kitchen Storage: Through the cupboard door

5. Frame it. Got something pretty to show off? A storage frame, like this one I found via Living etc, is fantastic for showing off cups and smaller items. This is from Heal’s, but I bet an old frame, some plywood and a lick of paint would make a great DIY version, too.

Kitchen Storage: Frame it

6. Roll with it. A butcher block, trolly or other small unit on wheels can make a great occasional storage and work space. Choose something that fits in with your decor, and then simply roll it where and when you need it. Bonus points if there are shelves underneath, like in this example from Apartment Therapy.

Kitchen Storage: Roll with it

7. Hanging out. Simply looking up can reveal several unexplored storage options. The classic over-island pot rack is a good example, but even mounting a single hanging rail can keep utensils out of the way and free up your countertop. The space under cupboards works well, as does a patch of bare wall, like in this kitchen from Marie Claire Maison.

Kitchen Storage: Hanging out

8. Up, up and away. In some kitchens the cabinets go right up to the ceiling, but in others, there’s a bit of headspace. Make that work for you by tucking rarely-used but attractive (or simply decorative) items out of the way, as in this room from Domino (RIP) which I found at Little Green Notebook. Just make sure you’ve got a sturdy chair or stepladder at the ready, if and when you need to get them down again.

Kitchen Storage: Up, up and away

9. Under covers. We don’t often see tablecloths in a kitchen anymore, but consider this: a floor-sweeping fabric can hid a multitude of sins- er, stuff. Choose a beautiful colour or print, as in this photo from Canadian House & Home, and it’ll add a whiff of French country glamour, too.

Kitchen Storage: Under covers

10. Skirting the issue. Similar to the last tip, I’ve got a total weakness for skirted work tops and tables. It doesn’t matter how messy the junk behind is- if you can hide it with a pretty fabric, who cares?! I like the skirted corner in this room from Marie Claire Maison.

Kitchen Storage: Skirting the issue

Have you got any kitchen storage tips you’d  like to share?

Of Type and Cookies

These Helvetica Cookie Cutters by designer Beverly Hsu were making the blog rounds a few weeks ago. I first saw them at Swiss Miss and then over at MadeByGirl, so resisted redundantly posting them here. I’m giving in now because really, who doesn’t like Helvetica? Design cliché though it might be, it’s the still the first typeface I (figuratively) reach for. If I had some of these cookie cutters (not available commercially yet, but here’s hoping!), I might be reaching for it literally, as well.

Helvetica cookie cutters

Helvetica cookie cutters

Helvetica cookie cutters

Look! Ekocook

Longtime readers will know that my favourite er, not so practical kitchen ideas tend to come from Dezeen. This UK-based online mag covers the architecture, art and design worlds, so their content is an inspiring mix of practical, playful, and plain weird. I’m always on the lookout for kitchen- and food-related items, which pop up from time to time and tend to be pretty cool.


Take this conceptual kitchen, designed to recycle waste as close as possible to where it’s produced. Called Ekocook, it’s been dreamed up by Victor Massip and Laurent Lebot of Faltazi. As well as the usual things you’d expect to find in a kitchen, Ekocook includes an under-sink reservoir for collecting reusable water, a collection of super-organized recycling bins, pendant lights which double as herb pots and even a container of earthworms to turn food waste into compost.


I’m all for reducing waste and recycling more, but even I can’t imagine keeping worms in my kitchen. What do you think?

Kitchen Idea: Recipe Card Wallpaper

I saw these slightly frenetic photos on Apartment Therapy yesterday, and immediately wanted to share them. They’re of an art space in Providence, Rhode Island, and the entire wall is covered with vintage recipe cards.

Recipe Card Wall

Recipe Card Wall

Recipe Card Wall

Obviously, this room is a step away from the modern kitchens I like to feature here- it’s an art space and not a home, after all. I certainly couldn’t live with this kitchen as-is, but I think that’s partly due to the cluttered counters and piles of “stuff”. But that recipe-card wall (postcards would work well, too) as the only dash of chaos in a clean, minimalist kitchen? Love.

Inspiration: Home Bars

Having a home bar is probably last on my (practicality-driven) wish list, but I admit to loving the idea of them. Options range from a full-on wet bar to a simple tray, but I have a certain fondness for the bar cart. They bring to mind images of 1940′s Hollywood films and cheesy American soap operas. (And Gilmore Girls reruns, but you won’t hold that against me, will you?) No matter what kind you go for, home setups like these never fail to evoke hospitality, old-fashioned glamour, and perhaps a touch of intrigue.  

I found this old Domino image at this is glamorous. Spare and minimalist, it has a wonderful mix of masculine and feminine elements:

Home Inspiration: Bar Carts

This bar cart is classic and colourful, found via Hostess with the Mostess:

Home Inspiration: Bar Carts

For the crafty among us, I like this restored 1970′s airplane galley cart, from the Telstar Logistics photostream:

Home Inspiration: Bar Carts

I love this simple little table, from an Apartment Therapy home tour. It works so well with the wallpaper behind it:

Home Inspiration: Bar Carts

Also from Apartment Therapy, this DIY idea is pretty cool. Turn an old bookcase into a bar, complete with professional glass holders and wine cradles:

Home Inspiration: Bar Carts

This bar vignette from Country Living is adorable and practical. I love the use of the wicker tray, and the old rake:

Home Inspiration: Bar Carts

Look: Elevate by Joseph Joseph

One product you’ll never see me feature here at Kitchenisms is a spoon rest. Not only do I hate single-use gadgets cluttering my kitchen, but I find them cutesy, fiddly and plain infuriating. My dislike of the things runs so deep that when The Kitchn had a “Hot or Not” feature on spoon rests yesterday, I felt compelled to chime in (you can see my scathing comment three down). 

So I was happy to see, when browsing Dezeen this morning, that one of my favourite kitchen product companies, Joseph Joseph, has come up with an alternative. Elevate by Gillian Westley is a line of silicone cooking utensils with central pivots and weighted handles, designed to keep mess off your work surface. While I love the idea, I’m not too crazy about the colours, so here’s hoping Joseph Joseph expands this range in the future. 

elevate by joseph joseph

elevate by joseph josephCheck out the full post at Dezeen for more info and photos.

Kitchen Idea: Re-bottle your dish soap

One of my favourite tips for creating a serene, unified space in any room is to get rid of branding. By that I mean, get your stuff out of the ugly packaging it comes in, and into something pretty! I keep grains and dried legumes in glass jars, remove store-bought cookies to a ceramic pot, and decant olive oil from a 3 lt. container into a small glass bottle by the stove.  


Until I saw this at La Dolce Vita this week, I’d never thought to do anything about my bottle of dish soap, though. The photo is from the kitchen of Brooklyn Limestone, a fab reno blog that I read occasionally, and a little research taught me that the idea came from the incomparable Martha Stewart

I think this is a great idea, especially if you can get as pretty a bottle as the one above. I imagine a pump-style would work better, though, so I’m on the hunt for one of those. I’ll let you know how it turns out.