My Kitchen Remodel (before and after)

Kitchen with boys 03

(picture by Wing Ta of Canary Grey for MSP magazine)

Two years ago my husband and I bought a house. It’s a gob-smacking piece of 1902 architecture with ornate woodwork, the likes of which I’d never seen before. It was built by T.P. Healy, who made a name for himself in Minneapolis building homes for the flour barons and other folks making it big in the milling town. Our house was once a grand gesture of a time of wheat prosperity, but it fell on hard times, as did the country, when the depression hit and it eventually became a boarding house and then apartments. Luckily for us and for the preservation of history, the house was kept in pretty good condition, considering the number of people who ended up owning it and living there. By the time we bought the house it was broken up into 4 apartments, which was honestly part of the appeal. Not that we intended to rent the apartments out, in fact, it is only zoned as a duplex, so two of them were illegal. The draw was the 4 kitchens that came with all those apartments. I had visions of having a “family” kitchen and then using one of the others as a studio to work in. For the first several months that is exactly what I did. At first it was awesome, I cooked meals on the first floor where I had a great gas range, ran up to the second floor, which had the best oven in the house to bake and then to the third floor kitchen to photograph, because the light is AWESOME up there. This was all good fun, then I realized that I was doing about 12 trips up and down the stairs per recipe. Quite a workout plan, but not exactly efficient for my work day. None of the apartment kitchens really fit the bill, but as a combined effort they were proving less effective than I’d fantasized. This became abundantly clear while a team of 6 people tried to shoot the photos for The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. We all jogged up and down, which I’d come to think as normal, but they moaned as they baked on one floor and shot on another. The photo shoot also took days longer than expected as a result. The next week I had an architect, Gregg Hackett, drawing up plans for one kitchen that would satisfy all the needs. A few months later Blue construction moved in and built it.

blueprint

We were really lucky to have the original blueprints (above) from 1902 to work from and we tried to put the kitchen back to where it had been originally. This meant taking out a bedroom and bathroom to make space. The pictures below are a before and after of that renovation.

The finished kitchen is featured this month in both Fine Cooking Magazine’s Behind the Kitchen Door and Mpls/St Paul Magazine’s Home Tour. First I spent a wonderful day shooting with Chuck Miller from Fine Cooking and my neighbor, friend, fellow food blogger and cookbook author, Stephanie Meyer, who helped style my kitchen. The editors at the magazine were particularly taken with my cake stand collection and are doing a GIVEAWAY  of a pair of cake stands, just click here to enter. Then the team from MSP magazine came by and we had an absolute blast tossing pizzas and flour around the kitchen with my boys. It is incredible to see the space through the talented lenses of these folks. To see all their photos check out the articles, the photos below are just my snap shots.

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Installing my new BlueStar Rangetop and Prizer Hood – Kitchen Remodel

Zoe and BlueStar zb 01

Last year I bought a new house. It had 4 kitchens. I thought I would use one for cooking with my family, one for my “studio/work space” and the others were, well I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. There is a decent explanation for all of these cooking spaces; the house was an apartment building when we bought it. My husband and I are just crazy enough to find this project an adventure.  You’ll be happy to know that we are still happily married, we continue to love the house, but the reality of having all those kitchens wasn’t nearly as romantic as I had fantasized. They were all on different floors, so if I left my favorite balloon whisk on the top floor, but I need to whip eggs on the first floor, I had to run up and down again to get it. I ended up losing 5 pounds (not a bad fitness plan) and was getting frustrated in the middle of all my recipes. I could either duplicate every piece of equipment I owned or give up the whole notion and go with one kitchen. After months of using the house as a stairmaster, we decided a single kitchen made the most sense.

I needed to choose new appliances. The ones that came with the house were from the 1960s and no longer worked as they were intended. I originally went with a 48″ Wolf rangetop and hood that I found, virtually unused, on craigslist. It really worked fine, but I wasn’t blown away with the strenth of the burners and I didn’t care for the griddle, which I never used. I always wished I had the extra burners instead. So, when I was approached by BlueStar about being part of their BlueStar Chefs program, I jumped at the chance. I wanted the kind of fire power I had when I worked in restaurant kitchens, at home. I liked the fact that it can cook the pants off the Wolf (the open burners and extra BTUs are a little bit crazy, in a good way). With all that extra power I went with a Prizer hood, which is strong enough to vent the rangetop and it even sucks the smoke from my pizza baking across the room. Since this is my home office and I like to work in a fun space, the fact that I can pick knobs in any color, well that’s just cool too.  (But, every time I pick a color from the 190 choices, my mood changes and I want a new one.) Until I can make up my mind, I’ll stick with the black, which goes with every apron I own.  Now that I have this magnificent fire beast, I’ve vowed to stretch my dinner repertoire.  (more…)

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