Building the Dream Kitchen
I recently bought a new weekend house in Amagansett, NY, aka The Hamptons. The most thrilling thing about this is that I am finally getting to build my “dream kitchen” from scratch. I’ve been working around food my entire professional life, and have been working freelance, using both my small NYC apartment kitchen and my weekend house kitchens as my workspaces for the past 10 years. I had another weekend house for 11 years before this one, but it was a 1000 sq ft cottage, and the only part I could not afford to renovate was the tiny galley kitchen, so I painted the green Formica counters and old brown cabinets white, and made do.
It was a one-person kitchen at best, and also served as the only passageway from the front to the back of the house. Despite this, I developed many a recipe there, styled and shot my entire cookbook, RECIPES: A Collection for the Modern Cook there, and had many food shoots there. My husband Steve and I entertained regularly there, and I cooked for as many as 100 people there for my annual 4th of July BBQ.
When I first found the new house, I fell in love with the setting, and the feel of the house, but it needed work. At first I thought the kitchen could be renovated, and possibly expanded a little, but after talking to some friends who had recent experience with building a house nearby, and subsequent conversations with architects and contractors, I began to think outside the box, and realized the best solution was to build an addition that would house the new kitchen and dining room, which would really open up the living space. While the house FELT a lot bigger that the old one, it was only bigger by about 650 sq ft., which wasn’t much. The old kitchen, seen below, will become an annex to the new one, and will be full of storage, with a desk for me to sit at while I am working on recipes.
Once the plans were underway, we decided to have a “before” party, not only to warm the house, but also so that our friends could appreciate what we had done, instead of always asking, “Was it always like this?” like they had about my first house, which was a total gut. We tacked the architect’s drawings to the walls, rented some tables and chairs, and invited 20 adults and some kids over for lunch on the Sunday before New Year’s Eve.
The success of this gathering proved once again that you don’t need a fancy new kitchen to make some really good food, and that a good party is really about the people. We all got to bask in the beautiful light, and I could start to imagine what it will be like when we finish the renovation, when we’ll have everyone back again.
I’ll be chronicling my journey throughout the renovation process here.