Hey Folks, it’s me Brady and today I am taking over the blog (with Emily’s blessing of course) to chat all things kitchen, but mostly to show off how my little galley kitchen went from dingy and sad to bright and happy. Working for Emily does have some major perks, one of which is the ability to makeover some of the rooms in my apartment for blog content and have wonderful brands, makers, and companies that are willing to send through items for coverage and linking so that we can introduce the audience (you) to them. So first and foremost a big thank you to you the readers for reading, Emily for letting me makeover this space, and the wonderful brands for collaborating and sending through some of the piece that you see here. Now let’s get into it. In case you are new here or want to take a walk down “Brady Memory Lane” you can check out my Living Room Reveal, my Bedroom Headboard DIY, and my Bathroom Refresh. But now let’s dive into what this place looked like before I moved in so we can get into the full reveal.
To be completely honest, I loved the kitchen when I moved in. Granted it was not perfect, but it did have amazing light, a totally functional layout, and tons of old character what with the detailed moldings on the walls and ceilings and the vintage shaker style cabinets. My first impression of my kitchen was akin to one of those first dates you go on where you definitely can see the guy has flaws, and that he might have some weird habits that you either have to get used to or change. But, under that wrinkly shirt, the slight unibrow, and the open-mouth breathing there is a totally lovable guy who has plenty of potential. Luckily my first date horror stories are over and I can now say the same about my kitchen. It’s gone from Prince Alarming to a much more palatable Prince Charming.
Let’s start from the ground up. You may have seen on the blog last year (or above in the progress pics) when I decided that it was a good idea to attempt a DIY peel and stick flooring to cover up the old vinyl that was previously there – which I will still stand by as a good idea as it was easy, fast, totally affordable, and gave the space a completely different look. But after living with it for over 6 months some of the tiles did start to peel up which I did have to replace. It wasn’t a huge catastrophe but was definitely a little bit annoying, so in hindsight if I was to do it again I would use some higher quality tiles that have a bit more durability and longevity. To read some more and get some BTS head on over to Architectural Digest for the full story. (I am dying at that last sentence. Arch Digest is covering my DIY flooring people. AD! I can officially die a happy man now.)
My kitchen (as I am sure you are already aware) is quite small, and does lack a lot of storage and usable counter space. So I really wanted to do everything I could to make the kitchen a bit more functional, and create specified areas in the kitchen for everything I needed or wanted to do in there. I will not profess to be a cook, which my mother would hate to hear me say out loud as she is a chef and I am sure would hope that I picked up a skill or two from her other than boiling water and preheating an oven. To this day those are still my two best skills. Although I am working to add chopping, frying, and blanching to the list (the last only because it is fun to say). Until then I have the usual takeout places on speed dial and am real good at cleaning up the dishes after my BF makes a delicious dinner for us. Needless to say, adding more storage for everything (even if I don’t do a lot of cooking) was a good move for me and the kitchen.
When I first moved into the apartment there was one single shelf on this wall above the sink, and not only was it pretty shallow but it was at a little bit of an awkward height (IE I smashed my head into it a few times while doing dishes before realizing that it needed to be pulled out). So I decided to remove that shelf and put in three new ones at better heights (both for my forehead and for storage), then proceeded to fill the shelves with absolutely beautiful things that I am both elated and completely terrified to use.
You see as an almost 30 year old adult (I am not quite there yet), gone are the days of thinking it is ok to eat on disposable dinnerware every night or worse (time to clench your pearls ladies) eating pizza directly from the box. So it was time for me to grow up and invest in some real “adult” pieces. The kitchen is quite small, so rather than bringing in a bunch of color or pattern to create interest and life in the kitchen I wanted to play with texture and keep things within the black and white tones, and accent with wood and brass. As I started shopping for the shelves there were a few things that each piece had to fall into: 1) it had to function well, 2) it had to look beautiful as it wouldn’t be hidden behind doors, and 3) it all had to easily stack. I realize that most people don’t consider a plate’s ability to stack when they are shopping but, as the open shelving was the only place for all of my dinnerware to go, it had to fall within all of those three categories.
The off white plates and bowls which all came from World Market are still some of my favorites as they perfectly combine simplicity and a handmade look to them (also can we all get a round of applause for how perfectly imperfect they look when they are stacked?). I found these black and white glasses at Jayson home and instantly knew they were basically made for my kitchen shelves, so those quickly became my go-to glasses. They are a little bit smaller than I am used to but Jason (my BF not to be confused with the store where I got them) continues to remind me that American portion sizes are a little aggressive and that anywhere else in the world these would be considered a normal and totally usable size. But, I can’t help it that I like to drink a large glass of whole milk with almost every meal (and yes, I do realize that is not normal by any means).
Directly across from the sink is where the new Smeg fridge and my existing stove live, and one of my new favorite places in the kitchen – my coffee center. When Nespresso reached out about working together to promote their new VertuoPlus machine and infusing extraordinary elements into your everyday life, Emily and I figured what better way to show that off then through a kitchen refresh. It just so happened that mine was desperately ready to be finished (ahem started), so showcasing the new machine and talking about the ways I made my everyday kitchen a little more extraordinary seemed like a perfect fit.
Although it has only been in place for a few weeks having this dedicated coffee area where everything is at my fingertips and accessible has made my morning routine so much more enjoyable. The VertuoPlus machine could not be easier to use and the fact that it literally is one touch to extraordinary coffee makes waking up in the morning so much better. It really is just one touch – the machine opens and closes by itself, there is no pulling out the old capsules after you are done, and in just a few minutes you have yourself an espresso or a full cup of coffee complete with that picture perfect “crema” on top that you see there, which I just learned is actually a sign of quality coffee. And not only is the coffee delicious but the company prides itself on being an industry leader in sustainability with their recycling program and making the capsules out of 100% recyclable aluminum, leaving both my mouth and mother nature very happy. Excuse me while I go brew myself another cup real fast.
Above it hangs my favorite and most treasured (yes I use that phrase now) piece of art which was a gift from Jason last christmas. Long story short, he basically is a perfect human and somehow seems to pick up on what I like and dislike in between all my word fodder, and got me an original from one of my favorite artists, Frederic Forest. To say that I sobbed like I had just watched the ending of “House of Sand and Fog” over and over while opening it would be an understatement.
You may have noticed that gorgeous antique butcher block that it all is sitting on. It is a pretty serendipitous story about how this one found its way into the kitchen. I previously had a hand me down island trolly from Ikea that was there (which worked but wasn’t exactly what I had imagined for the space) and I was desperately looking for a replacement for it in the weeks leading up to the shoot. The problem was, it was a difficult size to find and most old chopping blocks have been so worn in that the surface no longer works as a usable countertop. The day before the shoot as I was styling everything out on top of my existing trolly I happened to scroll through a few instastories (one of them being Wertz Brothers, a local furniture reseller/consigner) and this little beauty popped up as it had just come in. I immediately messaged Ryan from Wertz Brothers asking the dimensions and a few minutes later I was racing over there to grab it before it even went on the showroom floor. Needless to say – if you are local follow them and their instastories as they are constantly getting new pieces in at such great prices and you might just find the perfect piece for your space.
Let me introduce you to my friend “stove.” I rarely use him but he does make a wonderful surface to display my collection of antique wooden spoons and boil some pasta on every now and then. Although, to be fair, I did take a cooking class a few weeks back and can’t wait to give these Copper Pots from Lagostina some patina with my best Julia Child impression. My point being, use your kitchen and make it work for you. I don’t do a ton of cooking in here so creating an extra surface for display on half of the stove works for me, and having all my pots and pans readily displayed means that I have a constant reminder of how boiling water and putting pasta in it doesn’t count as a life skill.
Moving on down to the dining area and where I spend most of the time in my kitchen. I really wanted to create a focal point of the kitchen when looking down it from the entry area and because this area directly connects to the living room. So I did what any normal person does and installed a floor to ceiling, wall to wall, gallery wall filled with some of my favorite art. Despite what everyone asks when they walk in, that top right piece above is NOT me, although I will take it as a compliment. The gallery wall started with the large piece in the center from Captured52. As soon as I saw it I loved and knew that it would be the inspiration for all the other art that I paired with it.
When I started pulling all the art, I didn’t really have a theme other than I wanted it all to be tonal, black and white, and I wanted each piece to be something I really loved to look at – and now looking at this as a full collection I guess my three favorite things to look at are abstracts, architecture, and the male form. Go figure. Since there is so much visually going on within the art, I kept things simple by framing almost everything (besides the few pieces I already had) in black and white modern frames from Framebridge but varied the framing style to help it feel eclectic and collected. Some of them got float mounted, some included a mat, and then a few of them were framed without a mat and the picture fills out the entire frame. If you are in need of any type of framing check them out as they do such beautiful work and the process could not be easier.
The amount of light that bounces around this room makes it one of my favorite places in my apartment, and since I installed the chandelier on a dimmer it means that me and my 26 framed friends can lower the custom roman shades from Tonic Living and enjoy an intimate and ambiance filled dinner together once the sun goes down. Just don’t ask me to cook anything too complicated.
For the shoot I styled out the dining nook area with some bread and honey (because who doesn’t love bread and honey with their coffee), and of course some white tulips as they were too beautiful at the market to pass up this last week. The gorgeous cutting board which was gifted from The Wooden Palate who is a husband and wife team here in LA that makes everything by hand. Emily has a few of their pieces and everything they make is so simple and beautiful. Besides, presentation is half the meal so I now have that down pat with this little piece.
And because I know you guys love to see some full pulled back shots that show as much of the room as possible here is a view looking into the kitchen from the entry way.
And then the view looking from the dining area down the kitchen into my entry way and hallway which leads to the bedroom and office area (which are coming up in a full reveal very soon). I just got some wallpaper installed and things are shaping up so stay tuned for that reveal.
So folks, there is the full kitchen for you. If you are into the look then everything is included below, and if you have any questions about how I pulled it together or about the space be sure to leave comments below. In the meantime head over to MyDomaine to read some more of my tips on how to refresh a rental kitchen and enjoy some of these side by side before and afters while I snack on my bread and honey and sip on my delicious cup of Nespresso coffee.
Kudos to you if you noticed that the before floor in these two pics is different, as I just noticed it last minute. But the story behind the difference is that the top one was installed right before I moved in, and the below pic was taken just before the old tenant moved out.
1. Chandelier | 2. Relaxed Roman Shade | 3. Woman Waiting – Etude by Frederic Forest | 4. Nespresso Machine | 5. Nespresso Glass Mug | 6. Wooden Stand | 7. Glass Canisters | 8. INTENSO Capsule | 9. STORMIO Capsule | 10. Dining Table | 11. Dining Chair | 12. Honey Dipper | 13. Cutting Board | 14. Black Pitcher | 15. Ceramic Coffee Mug | 16. Dish Towel | 17. Rolling Pin | 18. Drawing 264 – Gesturing Man Print | 19. Point of View Print | 20. Letter Board | 21. Brass Shelf Brackets | 22. Brass Knobs | 23. Untitled B&W #1 2012 Print | 24. Freedom Print | 25. Twin Pendant | 26. Smeg Fridge | 27. Hand Soap | 28. Dish Brush | 29. Gold Flatware | 30. Dinnerware | 31. Wine Glass | 32. Leather Strap Cutting Board | 33. Charcuterie Cutting Board | 34. Round Cutting Board | 35. Mini Wooden Bowl | 36. Cork Lidded Jar | 37. Gray Dipped Ceramic Bowls | 38. Black and White Ceramic Cups | 39. Guiding Light Print | 40. Tread Print | 41. Stones Print | 42. Brass Faucet | 43. Leather Strapped Vases | 44. Copper Place Card Holder | 45. Natural Jute Rug | 46. Origami White Vase | 47. White Ribbed Vase | 48. Copper Pots
**A big thanks to Nespresso who sponsored this makeover and post and who we worked with to bring you thiscontent and makoever. Thanks for supporting the brands that allow us to bring you daily original content.
***Photography by Tessa Neustadt