My 13-year-old daughter loves to bake fun, fancy cakes. She can whip up a buttercream icing in no time, and you should see her collection of decorating tools. She wields them like a French pastry chef! Her finished cakes look polished and professional. Between the sugar, butter, colors, and flowers, you can imagine how, um, festive our kitchen looks when the last petals are piped.
I suppose creativity runs in the family, because we all embrace a good project. From watercolors and Play Doh to school projects and baking supplies, we need a lot of storage for those kitchen essentials that are fun and functional, but definitely not pretty.
Our secret creative clutter is just one of the reasons I’m so excited about the room we’re calling our “hidden kitchen.” This space separates the main kitchen and the dining room and will serve a few important functions: It will give us a working space for baking and messy projects, help us prep for parties, and keep the ugly stuff hidden.
I must admit the “hidden kitchen” nickname is a bit misleading. This space—with its double oven, fridge, and freezer—joins two highly trafficked areas. A swinging door connects it to the dining room and an open door connects it to the main kitchen, so our hidden kitchen gets a lot of visibility.
Here’s my top-10 list for making this space functional and formal:
- Make a statement with appliances. If you read my last post, you know that the piece de resistance in the main kitchen is our custom La Cornue range. In our hidden kitchen, I chose Blue Star appliances, which I used—and loved—in our previous home’s kitchen renovation. They’re great everyday appliances, and I feel good about my kids being able to use them. Plus, Blue Star offers a variety of beautiful colors. There are only so many places in a house that you can use something besides paint to create a distinct moment, and in this hidden kitchen, I’m excited to go with a unique, moody green for the appliance color.
- Get organized. I’ve put a lot of thought into our pantry organization. For example, I keep healthy snacks within reach so hungry little ones can exercise their autonomy. I’m also incorporating baking drawers, my very favorite kitchen organizational tool. It’s easy to build simple inserts into your drawers, and then you have all the necessary supplies like flour and sugar close at hand.
- Use a natural wood stain for the pantry. With five kids, the pantry gets destroyed. Instead of painting pantry cabinets, we’ll minimize wear and tear with an oak finish. A natural finish hides smudgy hand prints and is easy to wipe clean.
- Layer textures. Our main kitchen has grand windows and room for a big banquet, so there are lots of obvious opportunities for incorporating beautiful fabrics. This smaller space requires a bit more creativity! I’m planning to embrace decorative elements, like brass mesh in the cabinets. And there may not be much space for textiles, but I’ll always find space for a covered bench.
- Swap an island for a table. Here, we only have space for a 30-inch-deep island, so I decided to replicate the look of a French antique table. We’ll make it counter height and give it a sturdy base with a shelf. This is a versatile island alternative that meets our need for counter space now—and gives us the option for floor space in the future.
- Select a high-gloss paint. In addition to its durability, high-gloss paint reflects more light, which results in a vivid, saturated finish.
- Choose warm lighting. To complement the high-gloss paint, I’m going with warm lighting that makes me excited about baking holiday cookies or wrapping gifts for friends and family.
- Create contrast with flooring. In the main kitchen and dining room, the floors are a lovely white oak. To tie those two spaces together, I’ve chosen an Ann Sacks checkerboard floor. Instead of the expected black-and-white tile, we’re going with a warm cream and gray marble.
- Complete the look with hardware. It may seem cliché when people say hardware is the jewelry to the room, but it really is true. If you choose the right hardware, it can be sturdy and dressy without feeling fragile. Sherle Wagner is my favorite source for authentic, French antique-inspired hardware.
- Don’t forget the art. My color palette is traditionally bright, but recently I found a beautiful painting that has moody French tones that are a little cozier and perfect for this space. Our lives are so busy right now that I’m drawn to tranquil artwork that makes the hidden kitchen feel inviting and livable.
This story is part of our Along for the Revival series with Caitlin Wilson. Get caught up with the rest of the series here.