Sunday, November 8, 2009

An Early Morning Project

So what do you do when you wake up at 4 in the morning and can't fall back asleep?

Apparently I rearrange furniture. This isn't the first time I've done it in the middle of the night, but the first time since I've been married and had some one sleeping in the house while I tiptoed around pushing ovens and fridges and dining room tables.

Before I really woke up I was looking up articles on small spaces online. We live in an 1000 foot 1940s clapboard cottage--my kitchen experience in this house has been the mixture of the nightmare of a very small space, but FINALLY a gas oven.

While I was surfing, I ran across a slide show of Shaker style kitchens that really grabbed my attention. As someone who loves the simplicity of modern design, but is also nuts about antiques and old homes, these kitchens grabbed me. So I analyzed what I had in the house, found lots of wood items and white porcelain, and removed quite a bit of the Asian stuff that was my previous theme and went to work.

I knew that one of the things I wanted to do was to give my self more workspace. So I slid the oven over as far as I could and squeezed in an old wooden ironing board that used to be in the dining room loaded with cookbooks and apothecary boxes. It has been very inconvenient not having a counter next to my stove, so this will give me the a place to set things while I'm cooking.
My chitarra has a great place to sit now, leaning against the wall at the end of the ironing board. And I love the contrast between the old antique wood and the modern art above the stove, my mosaic I glued together of a children's memory game (bought seriously reduced at Old Navy) of my favorite mid century modern illustrator, Charlie Harper.

Somehow ducks just seemed to fit in with the Shaker theme, and my ducks are some of my treasured possessions. My father-in-law told me before he passed away that he wanted me to have his collection of ducks. We used to spend time talking about all the birds that I saw when I would return to his house from hiking trips with my husband. These miniature ducks are sitting on top of the stove.

On top of the refrigerator are more of my treasured ducks, along with the apothecary boxes that store things from bay leaves and cumin seeds to several varieties of dried peppers and yeast and rennet and more. My husband bought these for my birthday a couple of years in a row during Target's global bazaar, merchandise which always seemed to get marked down right around my birthday in February. Also pictures are my pasta cutting rolling pin and biscuit cutter that I bought at the Little Rock Greek Food Festival several years back, a kitschy bird sugar bowl that was so ugly I had to have it, and a cat figurine that I believe my parents bought for me when I was around 3 years old in Mystic, Connecticutt.

One Asian touch that I kept was my bamboo tray. Placing it over one half of the sink with my cookbook holder will give me a larger work space on the counter. You can also see more wood ducks, this time given to me by my mother-in-law in the corner and a white ceramic pitcher containing my wooden utensil collection previously owned by my mother.

I love my huge cabinets, one of the few blessings of my tiny kitchen.

Another Asian item that I kept was my lucky bamboo, given to me by a co-worker at Christmas last year. I'll be digging up my oregano and basil and lemongrass from the garden soon to add more greenery to the kitchen. I love this old wooden bowl that I found at a flea market and that I use as part of a mortar and pestle for making curry pastes, etc.

Another item that seemed to go with the Shaker theme and that helps optimize space is this picnic basket that I use to store my linens. It is sitting on an old printer cart that my father-in-law made to go with my husbands old computer desk, I use the underneath to store my antique collection of cookbooks.

Do you know what you'd grab from your house if it was burning to the ground? I'd grab my quilts. I have five hand sewn quilts that my mother made that are my absolute all time biggest treasures (sometime in the near future, hopefully, it will be six when I get the Dear Jane that my Mom just finished!!!!). This one goes really well with the dishes on my china cabinet which are in blues and whites. I moved the dining room table up to the window to give guests a closer place to sit while I'm working in the kitchen and so that I can enjoy the view of the much prettier houses across the street, 1920s beautiful brick homes, mostly, while I drinking my morning coffee.

Don't worry Mom, food will not be eaten off the quilt!

On top of the quilt is a simple bowl given to me by my friend Marty and inside it another bowl given to be by my Mom.

My "china cabinet" an old, as in actually now an antique, stereo cabinet from when my parent's first got married, topped by a piece of display shelving from the department store that I work at. I moved my quilt frame into the dining room as this old fashioned, beautiful, hand pieced work of art by my Mom seemed to suit the Shaker theme as well.


  1. the rooms look really good how you have redone them. Of course the quilts add a good touch. Love the ducks!

  2. Thanks, Mom! And the quilts do add an excellent touch!

  3. don't forget I need to enjoy Dear Jane awhile before I pass it on to you :)

  4. Oh I'm not forgetting, I'm just making sure you're not forgetting!!! LOL. :)