Come behind the scenes at Sweetness & Bite for a #KitchenTour and see Natalie's kitchen in Tauranga, New Zealand.
My favourite thing definitely has to be a toss-up between the bench and my cake decorating pantry. The bench is pretty huge - 1.4m wide and 2.8m long (about 4.6ft x 9.1ft), so there is plenty of room to spread out when we’re working in the kitchen. The cake pantry is a cake decorator’s dream, with everything neatly arranged and easy to access. I am not a naturally tidy baker or cake decorator, so having everything handy and organised right behind the bench makes it much easier for me to tidy as I go. It took me a few weeks to figure out the best way to store everything and to purchase a bunch of plastic drawers and dividers, but now everything is easy to find and easy to pack away when I’m done working. We also have an instant boiling water tap that I’m grateful for every morning when I don’t have to wait for an electric kettle to boil to make a cup of tea. This girl needs tea ASAP when she wakes up!
Tell us about your kitchen?
The kitchen is part of a large open-plan area which includes two living areas and a dining room. I live with my parents, my Mum is retired and my Dad and I both work from home so all three of us are in and out of the kitchen all day.
What have you done to make your kitchen cosy, functional, beautiful or inspiring?
In 2017 my parents completely renovated the kitchen after moving into the house the year before, focussing on making it as functional for us as possible. I was pretty lucky in that I got to have a say in the kitchen without being the one paying for it! The original kitchen had impractical storage, very little useable bench space (only about half a metre either side of the sink) and a tiny oven. My mum and I cook together most nights, and we were constantly accidentally elbowing each other and fighting for bench space. The appliances were all a bit too small, and the dishwasher handle was being held together with duct tape. I couldn’t do cake tutorials or bake much for my blog in the old kitchen, due to both the lack of space and the fact that the dark brown bench top made the room quite dark and not great for progress shots of my recipes or step-by-step tutorials. I also couldn’t unpack much of my equipment as there was nowhere to store it! There are now three pantries (one for food, one for crockery and the one for my cake/baking equipment - yes, it seems my parents do really love me) and a ton of storage under the island. We put in a 900mm wide oven and french door fridge, both of which we had in our previous house and were right at the top of our wish list for this one. We faced a bit of a design challenge with the gas heater which sits in the middle of the open-plan rooms - it needed to stay there but we wanted to avoid it looking out of place as it had before. The extra large island stretches right out to the back of the heater, making it look much less out of place and giving us this delightfully large bench top. Since taking these photos we’ve added in a few bar stools under the breakfast bar/overhang on the side of the island - it took us quite some time to find ones that worked, but in the end good old Kmart came to the rescue.
How do you keep organized while cooking?
It’s pretty easy to be organised in this kitchen, even for someone like me who is absolutely not blessed with natural organisational skills! Everything is easy to access and to put away again. The hardest part is figuring out where my Dad has put things when he empties the dishwasher. Sometimes he doesn’t actually know where it lives, and sometimes he thinks it’s hilarious to put the teaspoons in the fridge.
Any tips & tricks for organising your pantry, fridge and ingredients?
Our crockery pantry was pretty easy to organise, drawers in the bottom sections of all the pantries make it easy to access the things stored there. My cake pantry took a bit more work with adding plastic drawers and dividers in the top built-in drawer. The food pantry is still a bit of a work in progress!
Do you do a lot of cooking and what are your favourite dishes to make?
Mum and I cook most nights, and we do a bit of everything, from my Nonna’s secret recipe pasta sauce to stir fries and curries. During the summer my Dad barbecues a lot, so the kitchen is mostly a salad prep area. Obviously because of my blog I do a lot of baking, I have a major sweet tooth and I would choose dessert over dinner every day of the week if I could!
Where do you turn for new recipe ideas?
Pretty much everywhere - magazines, recipe books, the internet, television programmes. My Dad has Coeliac disease and I have a bunch of food intolerances, so often we adapt recipes we find to suit us.
Do you plan out your recipes for the week or do you like to be spontaneous?
I won’t lie - sometimes we plan, but usually we just make whatever we feel like on the day. Either from what we have in the pantry/fridge/freezer, or there is a supermarket around the corner and we go and grab the ingredients to make it.
If you had three wishes, what would you do to make this your dream kitchen?
I actually don’t think there is much I would change! The flooring (which is the original vinyl flooring as we didn't need to change it when we renovated) is quite dark and changing it to something lighter would make the kitchen lighter, so that is something we’d like to do at some stage. Other than that we’re all pretty happy with everything as it is.
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