Come behind the scenes at Curly Girl Kitchen for a #KitchenTour and see Heather's kitchen in Aurora, Colorado.
I love all the light and the vaulted ceiling. When I want to snap a few photos of a fresh batch of cookies or a piece of pie, I have plenty of natural light to set up a photo shoot on the kitchen island. It's such a bright welcoming space, and whenever we have friends and family here, everyone wants to gather in the kitchen.
Tell us about your kitchen?
Our kitchen is a really good size, and feels even more spacious with the high ceilings. We spend so much time in here, and I love that it's adjacent to the living room so I can keep a close watch on my two little boys while I do dishes, make snacks for them, and of course, bake. The dining room is in a separate room next to the kitchen, and my husband built the dining room table from nothing more than a sketch I drew of what I envisioned. It's a big, rustic farmhouse-style table, perfect for leisurely meals and game nights, and I've surrounded it with a collection of mis-matched chairs, some new and some from antique stores.
What have you done to make your kitchen cosy, functional, beautiful or inspiring?
My husband and I put a lot of work into our house and kitchen when we moved in here the winter of 2014. We saved money where we could by doing the work ourselves (we didn't have kids yet, so all of our free time that first year was spent working on our house), and our efforts really paid off. We repainted the entire interior of the house, updating it from brown to a neutral grey, with bright white trim, and installed dark bamboo flooring on the main level. The old kitchen was very dark, with lots of black tile, brown paint and orange oak cabinets. We kept the existing kitchen cabinets, but painted them white. We removed all the black tile that covered the island, counters and backsplash, and instead installed white subway tile backsplash, white granite counters, and walnut butcher block on the island. We removed the cabinets from above the stove, added a self-venting hood over the stove, and installed the new white cast iron sink with a black faucet. My husband built the shelves over the sink to display my collection of cake stands (I have around 25). Over time, we ended up replacing the refrigerator, dishwasher and stove/oven, as the old appliances were starting to fail and were not nearly as functional as we needed. The most significant structural change we made was to remove the railing that divided the kitchen from the living room, which is two steps lower. In place of the railing, my husband built a buffet, with additional shelving and a wine rack. It's hard to imagine not having that piece there, as it feels like it was always part of the house. On the other side of the buffet, he also added a second set of steps, which greatly improves the flow of traffic between the rooms and out onto our back patio.
How do you keep organized while cooking?
I'm a clean-as-I-go type of person. I don't even like starting a baking project until the kitchen is clean, and whenever I have a little downtime while the buttercream is whipping, cakes are baking, or sauces are simmering, I get busy tiding up. I also like to make sketches of how I plan to decorate cakes or pies so that I have a visual reminder of how I want it to look, and it helps to set out everything I'm going to need before I get started.
Any tips & tricks for organising your pantry, fridge and ingredients?
Our refrigerator generally isn't too crowded (partly because we put our old refrigerator in the garage for extra storage of drinks and frozen items), so it's not hard to keep it organized by fruits and veggies, dairy, snacks for my kids, condiments, etc. One thing I always do is to keep raw meat in a large Tupperware to prevent any juices from leaking in the fridge. The pantry is a decent size, but crowded because of the sheer volume of baking ingredients and cake decorating tools I keep in there, so it's not nearly as organized as I would like. If I could find the time, I'd get it completely re-organized with nicely labeled, matching canisters and attractive baskets to hold dry goods.
Do you do a lot of cooking and what are your favourite dishes to make?
I do like cooking for my family, and we usually eat pretty simple, healthy meals with meat and vegetables; eating out or ordering in is a pretty rare occurrence for us. My toddler is a really good little eater, and I'm trying to instill healthy eating habits in him while he's young, and there's very few things he doesn't like. But my passion is baking, especially cakes, which I love to decorate. I have to restrain myself from baking too often, so I usually bake something new once or twice a week. I create most of my recipes, and I really enjoy testing recipes and tweaking ingredients to perfect the result. Besides baking, I'm passionate about photography, and share my photos almost daily on my Instagram feed. I don't post new recipes on my blog nearly as often as I used to (my little boys keep me so busy these days), but I still try to post something once a week.
Where do you turn for new recipe ideas?
I follow other bloggers and cake artists for inspiration, and I love watching The Great British Baking Show. Pinterest and Instagram are the two places I look to the most for inspiration, and I just love how creative everyone is with their cake designs, flavor combinations of ingredients and beautiful photography. I also love cookbooks and baking books with great photos, and I read through those more often than I do other books these days.
Do you plan out your recipes for the week or do you like to be spontaneous?
Our meals for the week are generally planned out, based on our grocery list, but occasionally, I'll get the urge to make something else if I see a recipe that looks good.
If you had three wishes, what would you do to make this your dream kitchen?
First, I'd really love a kitchen that was big enough for the dining room table so that we didn't have to have a separate dining room. Also, I have an antique hutch that I'd like to put in the kitchen, but there's no room for it, so more wall space, as well as a built-in desk area would be nice. And a huge walk-in pantry would be amazing!
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