I have no shame in admitting I didn’t really learn to cook until Los Angeles issued shelter-in-place orders in March 2020 and my favorite restaurants were forced to close their doors. I’m exaggerating a bit—I could certainly make a few key dishes—but I was not at all proficient in the kitchen. With each passing week, however, I became more confident in my ability to make something I would enjoy eating. (And let me tell you, perfecting deep-dish pizza was a real highlight of quarantine.)
As my skills sharpened, so did my opinions on what makes a great kitchen. We spend so much time analyzing countertop choices, the look of the appliances, the hardware and plumbing fixtures. But we need to look beyond aesthetics! A pretty Instagram snap of a sunny kitchen might not disclose “there is not actually a spot to efficiently store cutting boards” or “the open shelving means I keep my single-use appliances in the linen closet.”
I mention this to say, take these design ideas with a grain of salt. What works beautifully in one home might not provide enough room for your sourdough breadmaking. If you regularly cook with foods that are high in acidity or enjoy making craft cocktails, be mindful of what countertops you choose: natural stone will stain and tarnish really quickly with exposure to vinegar, citrus, and alcohol. If you love to fry and sear on the stovetop, the exhaust hood should be top priority.
If you’re more like Carrie Bradshaw of Sexand the City, no worries, as your stove will simply store your sweaters. But for the rest of us, really focus on how your kitchen will best function for your household’s needs. Then choose all the finishing touches and special details to really make it yours.