My City Kitchen

While looking for my first apartment in New York City, one of the many brokers I met offered the following pearl of wisdom:
There are three real factors to consider when choosing your apartment and you will have to sacrifice at least one: price, size or location.
He obviously didn't know me at all or he would have included "The Kitchen."  City kitchens are often tiny, cramped spaces with undersized appliances and poor lighting. Counter space? Why bother? I was amazed at what was sacrificed in order to make more room for the rest of the apartment. One place I saw had a tiny corner with a sink, 2 burner stove and single cabinet. The refrigerator was 4 1/2 feet high by 2 feet wide and was tucked into the closet outside the bathroom.

How do you make magic happen in a kitchen like that? The kitchen should be the place where everyone congregates at parties. Where affectionate hugs and great conversations just happen. Where serendipity or creativity lead to new culinary inventions! I wanted all these things to happen in my kitchen. I wanted room to chop and mix and knead!

After a long search, I moved into a 400 square foot studio with my boyfriend for an outlandish price. We didn't know it at the time, but the location turned out to be good. My kitchen, however, was great considering what I was up against. It was a cute little L shape with lots of cabinets and space above them for storage. I painted the ceiling and trim blue and brown. I added a freestanding cabinet (not pictured,) which gave me even more storage and another work surface. I lined up all my cookbooks in a row, next to the few bottles of booze that made up my home bar. There was still room for my red stockpot and dutch oven, plus my collection of Saveur & Gourmet magazines. The microwave fit on top of the fridge with room for a large roasting pan and wok to go on top. The spice rack went up over the stove - which was convenient, but for the record, is not the best place for spices because of the heat!

We lived in that apartment for two years. I made cola-glazed ham for Easter and a startlingly perfect turkey for Thanksgiving - think Norman Rockwell. For my boyfriend's birthday, I made his favorite dessert from scratch: chocolate cream pie. I learned how to poach the perfect egg. We squeezed our friends around our table for dinner parties and sat for leisurely brunches with the crossword puzzle and the cat. In the end, the apartment was just too small, but I did love my kitchen. Everything had it's place, and nothing was out of reach.

The great thing about living in a big city and squeezing yourself into a tiny apartment kitchen is that you are forced to be innovative with your space. I am always amazed at what people do to make their kitchens workable. If you have a city kitchen you want to share, or know of one, please send an email and let me know about it!


Amelie said...

About half my studio apartment in Brooklyn is the kitchen/dining area. I love it. The first thing I did was pull out the ridiculous tiny block of counter that wasn't even by the stove. Then I painted the walls red, the cabinets black. I bought a rolling kitchen cart with storage and a granite top.

You can see the evolution here.

My mixer lives on top of my refrigerator, and I get a workout lifting it down, then doing the limbo when it's plugged in if I want to get to my pantry (which is deep and lovely).

Photos of me baking in it here and here.


P.S. We met at Last Exit a few years ago, though you might not remember!

Stephanie said...

I think your kitchen is adorable. I think it would be great for all of us New Yorkers and Brooklynites to show off our tiny kitchens and share the magic we made happen there!

Melissa said...

@ Amelie - Yes! I remember meeting you! I love how you transformed your kitchen into a personalized, workable space. That red is very intense! Looks like a great apartment.

@ Stephanie - Cool - do you have any pics of your kitchen? Feel free to link here. Thanks!

manhattan said...

nice .. love your kitchen so cute ..

Diana said...

And a full-sized stove! THAT's a rarity in itself. Most of the kitchens I saw while searching for an apt this summer had the narrow 20-inch stoves. My wok would have taken up the entire surface area...if it didn't fall off first.

I like your full use of the area above the cabinets. My current compact galley kitchen is great, but the one thing it lacks is storage space. (One too many faux drawers!) So it's great seeing how other people get creative with their small kitchens.

Oh, and it was great meeting you tonight!

Ryan said...

Hi! My name is Ryan and I’m the editor of howtocookfantasticfood.com. I think you have an awesome food site so I posted a link to it in our blog directory. I wasn't able to find your email address on your site but I’d like to invite you to be a part of our Featured Website program. I would love to send you more details about the program, so if you are interested, please email me at ryan [at] howtocookfantasticfood [dot] com.

Neilesh Patel (Recruiter focused on Food Manufacturing Jobs) said...

Hey, I noticed your blog, liked some of these posts! Would you mind if we republished some of these articles in our newsletter or on our own site? It’s mainly a site for industry professionals in food/beverage, but I think a lot of them simply love every part of the world and would enjoy reading your blog. Let me know? I’ve linked to our site so you can see it.