Kitsch-en Style

I have a pretty big family (about to grow larger by one! – yours truly is about to become the coolest aunt ever but that’s another story.)  This being the case, for the last past Christmas’s we have done secret santa. So instead of being confused on what to get everyone, you get a set amount of money to spend on one person.  And considering the age of gifters and giftees ranges from 19 to 80, it is always a smart idea to make your wish list as specific as possible, direct web links encouraged.

This year my wish list was very kitchen-decor focused.  Julia Child I am not (that honor belongs to my little sister Gracie) so suffice to say everyone was a little surprised when I opened all my presents Christmas morning and the vast majority were for the kitchen (my boyfriend was especially perplexed since he handles anything requiring more skill than boiling water.)

But there was a reason I made my list so.  I’ve been in the same apartment for over a year (which is actually a record for me) and I guess having a home-y, well-decorated kitchen that has personality and warmth is a comfort thing.  Think about it.  Whenever you’re at a party, visiting your parents, hanging out with friends, at the end, everyone ends up in the kitchen.

Here are some of the things, new and old, that make my kitchen special to me.

This ceramic egg crate from anthropologie is one of my new favorite kitchen toys even though it hides in the fridge almost all of the time.  Don’t try to explain its purpose to a boy – it will just go over his head.  Actually, I couldn’t really say what the significance of having one is either except that it’s pretty cute.  Which I guess is reason enough.

Another winner from anthropologie would have to be their aprons.  I guess the one I got was pretty popular this year because I couldn’t find a picture online so here I am wearing it in action.  No fingers were lost during this photo shoot.  And yes it was staged (although I did cut all the potatoes.)  Unbeknownst to one another, Gracie (the actual cook in my family) asked for one too in a different pattern and I am sure hers is seeing more action.  But mine looks adorable hanging on a hook in my kitchen and will stay clean longer, so there.

But as fun as anthropologie’s home department is, I think it is the things you collect for your kitchen that make it unique (though I’d probably be singing a different song if I had an unlimited shopping budget.)  Still, I think a kitchen has to be built over time.  Think about your childhood kitchen.  All the little knick knacks, containers, dish rags, soap dishes… Those were things that were accumulated and collected over time, and the end result is what came to represent home.

Those yellow bowls emblazoned with “Bon Jour” are probably my most prized possessions.  As in, if there were a fire, I’d grab my dog and those bowls and get the hell out and not feel too bad about anything else.

When I was little we lived in Paris where breakfast consisted of hot chocolate which you drank out of a bowl.  When we were getting ready to move back to the States and all of our belongings had already been packed up, my mom bought these 3 bowls to keep in our empty kitchen to tide us over for a few days.  She probably got them at some cheap home goods store, but I’ve always cherished them.  My mom told me that one day, when I had a house of my own, the bowls would be mine.  When I moved into my first apartment, so did these bowls.  There are still the original three (although a couple of them are hanging together by a thread, or rather superglue) and though they have long since been retired, they make any place I move into feel like home.

Again, I have lived in my current apartment for over a year but it is only recently that Ben and I acquired kitchen chairs.  Chairs are surprisingly expensive and not that fun to buy anyway.  So we were super psyched when we found a matching set of these bright blue wood chairs with blue leather seats sitting out on the curb.  Where we live in Brooklyn, it is completely acceptable (and strongly advisable) to scrounge the streets for treasures.  Of course there are definite do’s and don’ts when it comes to street shopping (hello, bed bugs anyone??) but the chairs fell into the realm of a real find.  See, here in Park Slope we don’t like to throw things away, but we also don’t have the space to keep everything nor a car/patience/time to take it to a second-hand store where what you get for it will amount to way less than the effort it took to lug it there in the first place.  So street shopping is encouraged.  And it is an unwritten rule that what you put out there should not only be intact and usable, but also should have charm and style or else you’re just cluttering the street rather than waiting for trash pick up day.  Street Shopping Etiquette 101.  Another post for another day (half of my apartment is from SS.)

And to end this post on a PR/media related note (hopefully this will make everything at least seem relevant), I personalized my kitchen with framed prints of vintage Good Housekeeping covers.  Last year, Good Housekeeping celebrated its 125th anniversary by featuring an old cover in each issue for the entire year.  I collected each cover and chose my favorite 5 to hang up (my mom always said to decorate in odd numbers so things don’t look overly symmetrical.) It’s an appropriate magazine to have displayed in your kitchen, the covers are pretty awesome, and everyone who has been to our apartment has commented on them.

There are countless jokes about New Yorker’s using their kitchens as little more than additional closet space, and this stereotype is sadly true.  But just because your oven may actually contain shoes and your cabinets full of sweaters doesn’t mean you should have to miss out on the aesthetic and nostalgic joys of having a comfy, eclectic area that you call a kitchen (even if you secretly mean walk-in closet.)

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