ma cuisine


Nowhere is remodeling for the faint of heart and although I did, indeed, learn plenty of new words to expand my French vocabulary, along with a few other things that I won’t recount here, let’s just say that if I ever this take on this kind of project again, I’ll do things a little lot differently. The best advice I could pass on was given to me by a French friend – “Be more French, less American” – which you are welcome to interpret any way you want.

cocoa and powdered sugar work area (with peanut butter)

At the beginning of the project, an American friend said, “Please don’t write a book about remodeling in France.” So I promised her I wouldn’t. Which is probably a good thing as no one would believe most of it – and then there’s that pesky issue of the happy ending that we’re still working on : 0

Because Paris is an old city with a lot of history, it’s a challenge to do something that doesn’t work against the city. Modernism hasn’t always been good to Paris (ie: Les Halles), so I went for a very basic kitchen, not in any particular style, but something that was utilitarian first and foremost: I spent most of my life in restaurant kitchens and those are places where I seem to be the most at “home”, not in places with custom wood paneling and fancy design elements. Since light is at a premium in Paris, I went with white cabinets, stainless-steel handles and appliances (although I kept the black, well-used gas stovetop that was there), and wood, for warmth.

I didn’t follow any of the rules. I didn’t read up on where to put the refrigerator in relation to the sink. I didn’t think about work areas, work flow, triangles, circles, squares, rectangles, or tetrahedrons.

my work area

There are no wok burners, designer faucets, wine refrigerators, or any of that kind of stuff. I pretty much kept it to the essentials. (And as you can see, I didn’t clean my kitchen, or the sink, before I took some snaps because I’m always at work in the kitchen.) I did allow myself to get a clothes dryer, which are not common in Paris, mostly due to space and ventilation issues. But a few (American) friends insisted that I get one, and I don’t miss hanging my clothes on a folding drying rack in my apartment and waiting a couple of days for them to dry.

With all the extra time on my hands for cooking, I wanted a big counter to spread everything out on, a lot of light, and open shelves to store frequently used ingredients and cookware on so everything would be within easy reach. I don’t like rifling through drawers for things I use a lot – namely different kinds of flour and sugars, and I dislike going through cabinets of pots and pans searching for the one I want. So I made sure to have things as accessible as possible.

stainless steel shelving

I got my sturdy stainless-steel shelves from Nisbets, a Swiss restaurant supply company. The prices were reasonable and they actually called me to tell me when they shipped them, which was the day after I placed the order. Ah, the Swiss.

flour and salt

I wanted a big, white sink. One without ornamentation that could hold the enormous amounts of pots and pans that I seem to generate hourly. I recounted my sink search in a previous post, and when I was recently in the south of France, a British friend also remarked at how difficult it was to find big, white sinks in France. Yes, Ikea has them. But they are too small for me because I wanted something that could soak a baking sheet or roasting pan in, not one with a half-sized basin that I would have to wrestle with. And because I spend hours over the sink each day, it was important that it “worked” with me, and that I wasn’t working against it. I was looking for what they refer to as “Butler” sinks in England. Or curiously, as “French farmhouse” sinks, in America.

Did I really need to go rip one out of an old French farmhouse?

work area

I searched and searched and searched. And searched and searched and searched and searched. None of the plumbing supply stores had anything that was big, open, and plain. (So if you saw me tweeting at 3:30am, it was because I needed a diversion from my 24/7 online sink-hunting.) I finally managed to find one made by Porcher, which was over €800, plus 19,6% tax. (And I tried to find it again online, and every link that turned up was dead.) So I was thrilled when one day, while I was plugging away, I typed the serial number (P3363) into a search engine and a brand-new one showed up on Le Bon Coin, the great French website where sellers and buyers swap stuff. So we headed up to Lille, I paid €200, and voilà, I had my sink.

It’s hard here to find anything discounted, even online. So I was shocked when I saw how much I’d have to spend for seemingly commonplace items like plastic outlet covers and light switches. I bought standard, normal, plain white ones and the bill was roughly the equivalent to the cost of a brand-new MacBook pro. (But then I wouldn’t have had anything to plug it into, so I guess I made the right choice.) I also had a hard time finding fixtures that were plain and unadorned, without decoration or ornamentation. I wanted a professional faucet with a hose and sprayer. Cheap faucets usually don’t last long, and since the sticker shock of the plastic outlet covers, I was buckling down the budget. A relative was coming to visit and she brought along this Kraus faucet, which had to be modified a bit for Europe, but works well.

I began searching in catalogs for fixtures used in schools and institutions. I thought the words industrielle and even usine (factory) might be helpful (in the US, I once found great stainless-steel fixtures in a prison catalog), until I learned the word collectivité, which became the most frequently used search word on my computer.

90 cm oven

I am probably the only person in Paris with two ovens. Which means that Thanksgiving is definitely going to be at my place for, well, eternity. I needed a larger-than-usual oven (90 cm/35″) to hold baking sheets, as many standard European ovens are smaller and can’t accommodate a 17- or 18-inch sheet pan. However the larger oven takes a (very) long time to preheat so I am happy that I decided to have a second oven that is a combination microwave and regular oven, which is much faster to heat up and I like to use – in spite of the control pad that I can’t quite master no matter how long I study the owner’s manual.

The oven repairman who came to recalibrate the big oven told me digital ovens are actually more responsive and accurate. He also bemoaned the disappearance of raw milk cheeses in France. Fixes ovens and loves raw milk cheese? I guess that explains why he is my new favorite person in France.

I like restaurant-quality gear, so I stocked up on Cambro plastic containers last time I was in New York City. But man, those square containers are like drugs, and now that I got my fix of a few, I need more, more – more!

whiskshigh sink
sink and faucetantifatigue mat

Because I stand a lot in the kitchen, I wanted an anti-fatigue mat, which restaurant workers stand on and they make us happy. I was only found one website that had them, but they didn’t list where you could buy them in France nor did they respond when I asked about availability. So I found these pretty good mats from England for around €30.

(I wanted one of these GelPro mats, which are rubberized for easier clean up, but I didn’t think I could convince anyone to bring one over for me. They’re not as light as Cambro containers.)

Kitchen cabinets were from that big Swedish company that I went back to a grand total of eight times because of various, um, errors. I used some Ikea pulls, and got nicer pulls for other cabinets at La Quincaillerie in Paris, which is one of those great stores that has every single cabinet pull you can imagine – for a price. But the staff is helpful and the selection is amazing, which counts for a lot. And I only had to go there once.

I had the kitchen counters set to a certain height. Many French counters are quite low as people didn’t seem to mind stooping way-back-when, I guess. But now that the cuisine américain (open kitchen) has become more popular, folks are movin’ on up. And since I spend a few hours a day washing dishes, I wanted my sink to be a little higher than normal, too, to preserve my back.

kitchen counter

I like stainless-steel bowls a lot because they nest easily, they’re lightweight, and are relatively inexpensive. In Paris, one can find them at Indian shops, which aren’t all that sturdy, so I just buy the small ones there sell which are only about €1 each. For larger ones, I am now trying to get ones with rubberized bottoms, which are a bit more spendy but don’t wobble around. I have a few great ones I got at Sur La Table way-back-when in the states, but the ones I ordered online were a little disappointing because they seemed rather flimsy. (And they weren’t all that cheap, either.) I am a firm believer in having a ton of whisks and spatulas.

My whisks are from Matfer and Oxo and my dream spatulas are the ones from Le Creuset. I used to teach classes at Sur La Table and before anyone else arrived, I would raid the sale racks for Le Creuset spatulas as many of the colors were “seasonal”, and at the end of the season, they’d be put out to pasture.


I have a large refrigerator and when Parisian friends come over, they are shocked and it seems a little frivolous. But then I explain that it’s something I use for work and I need the space, and then they get it. And many are discovering ice, too!

Few people in Paris have the space for a regular-sized refrigerator and mine has an ice maker, which I use much, much more than I thought. It’s great for cooling down custards and so forth. And even better, it’s good to have on hand in case you need an emergency cocktail, like I’m going to fix myself after I finish up that sink-load of dishes.

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  • Elodie
    October 6, 2012 11:22am

    Lovely kitchen, but I’ve always wondered something about open shelves — how do you keep all that stuff non-dusty? Do you use everything on those shelves often enough that it’s not an issue? Every time I see a kitchen with open shelves I’m like “well that’s pretty but omg, you’d have to clean the items each time you wanted to use them!”

    • October 6, 2012 11:27am
      David Lebovitz

      Paris is, indeed, a very dusty city. However space is always at a premium and cabinets, with their doors, take up a lot of space. (You need to keep sufficient space in front of them not just for the door to swing out, but to stand there and pull something out.) And when you’re reaching for sugar, or the same pans over-and-over, for the sake of efficiency, some cooks like to have things within easy reach. And when you’re hands are flour-covered or whatever, it’s nice to be able to just pull something off the shelf without washing the flour or chocolate off your hands. (Baking professionally for a long time in restaurants, it’s a habit just to grab things off the shelves.) Mine get dusted about one a month or so, and they’re fine.

  • October 6, 2012 11:36am

    Very cool kitchen.

  • Anna
    October 6, 2012 12:02pm

    No space for a dishwasher?

    • October 6, 2012 12:49pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, there is a dishwasher (aside from me!)

  • October 6, 2012 12:06pm

    My compliments. I could be very happy there except I am a short woman of French extraction which explains short counters and why I wouldn’t be able to reach a lot of things in your delightful space. We have almost twin faucets! And sinks, but mine is stainless. I feel like the pastry making genie may be planning to alight on me because of that.

  • October 6, 2012 12:11pm

    Whatever you promised your friend, there IS a book in there, somewhere. *giggles*

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us, it is much appreciated.
    To many years of enjoying this work of art, my the good kitchen fairies always be with you,

  • adrian
    October 6, 2012 12:36pm

    Thanks for inviting us into your kitchen, David.
    If you need any supplies from Germany that can be carried by TGV, I’d be happy to oblige ;-)


  • Sophie
    October 6, 2012 1:06pm

    It’s so exciting to finally see pictures of your wonderful large kitchen — know you love to work and entertain there (you so deserve it)… I remember when it was an empty messy space with wires sticking out of the walls and a toilet in the corner and I’ve often wondered how it turned out so thank you for posting. You did a great job! Haha about the ice — yes it would be great if it caught on there, but like you said I tried to be less American and more French (your advice) and did without it while I was there :(
    btw — I just got Joanne Weir’s Tapas to Meze cookbook after I returned from Spain and can’t put it down. And recently got your new paperback — lovely… :) I’m making chocolate chip cookies for my painting group next Thursday. I’m sure they will be a hit.

  • October 6, 2012 1:19pm

    If my entire apartment was just your kitchen, with maybe a cot set up in the corner and a tiny bathroom, it would be the best apartment of my life.

  • Charlotte K
    October 6, 2012 2:00pm

    If you ever give up cooking go into kitchen design. Yours looks so real and usable, not all glammed up for show. For someone who really cooks it seems ideal.

  • Rob
    October 6, 2012 2:06pm

    Great post!
    You might want to proofread it again,though. There are a number of editing mistakes. Search for “because my favorite” as an example.

    • October 6, 2012 2:12pm
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks, and oops! I’ll fix that : ) I’m on a book deadline so in spite of the repeated re-reading, there might be a few goofs (I use html mode, so it’s hard to catch them all, between all the coding and so forth.)

  • karen victoria
    October 6, 2012 2:19pm

    So happy to read about your new kitchen. I remember vividly reading about when you moved in and the pictures back then. In the East Village in Manhattan where I live, several decades ago, it was a done thing to remove cabinet doors in kitchens as a preventative against insects like roaches, which were a bigger problem back then, I think. I did it and have loved not haveing cabinet doors. Bravo on your kitchen. Love so many things about it. Use it in good health and enjoy to the utmost!

  • October 6, 2012 2:30pm

    Dear David,

    First of all, thanks for this entertaining and genuinely intriguing posting.

    I do have to say, however, that I know you’re young & The World is Still More-or-Less Your Oyster….and perhaps you can still get away with this cavalier “I can’t be bothered to think about it” attitude towards tetrahedrons. I’m QUOTING you, as you’ll realize.

    That said?….someday (trust me on this one) you’re going to be older, and if you never took the time to “think about” tetrahedrons before then, how can you expect that they’ll take the time, when you’re old, to think about YOU?

    More seriously (to say the least, and in regard to your comments about kitchen sinks)?….

    I was simultaneously intrigued and fairly-chilled recently when the conversation at dinner turned to old houses and their kitchens. A visiting, British friend of mine is an architectural historian (one that has an actual JOB at the business, believe it or not). Another friend mentioned visiting one or another of those enormous, 19th century English National-Trust country-houses…..and how absurdly LOW the sinks were in the kitchen…..hip-high, at most. She mentioned folks’ being “so much SHORTER back then”….as though the average height of British adults had risen by 18 inches in just 150 years.

    My architectural historian friend told her (and me, I suppose, since I’d never considered the matter) “Well, people ARE taller than they used to be, but that’s not the reason. Sinks were used by scullery maids, and the average age of a scullery maid in 19th century Britain was 8 to11 years old….twelve hours per day, six days per week, at a sink, and you’re four feet tall?…..not a pleasant life for what we would regard as a child”.

    He pointed out that the chopping & butchering blocks were, if somewhat shorter than what we’d build now, still much-much higher than the sinks. Isn’t that an intriguing (if, as I said, more than a bit chilling) thing to realize?

    Just for the record?….I’m a lucky boy. I’ve bought and moved into a 220 year old, perfectly restored house, and those restorations included moving the old, 20×20 smokehouse up against the back of the joint and COMPLETELY remodelling it (just twelve years ago). The ceilings were raised to ten feet, the back-end was opened-up for a three sided, enormous dining area, two ovens were installed ( I don’t bake, by the way), etcetera,etcetera. I should emphasize that this was all done before the place was opened as a very succesful B&B.

    I should also emphasize that, since June, I spend most of my time in that room, regularly considering that it’s bigger than almost all of the gradskool apartments I lived in for thirteen years. Yet another longtime friend of mine recently remarked “You’re like Elsa-the-lion in the first half of “Born Free’… finally get space and freedom, and you don’t know what to do with it…..”

    Thanks as ever for your always interesting and invariably informative blog,

    david Terry

  • david
    October 6, 2012 2:47pm

    Hotte de ventilation…..tres important…

  • Wordbird
    October 6, 2012 3:01pm

    It’s gorgeous – congratulations and may we see the rest of the apartment eventually? :-)
    By the way, have any of your British friends told you about – a very useful British cookshop.

    May your kitchen be full of joy and cake on a regular basis. x

  • October 6, 2012 3:09pm

    Your kitchen is WONDERFUL and so practical !!
    I dream to have 2 ovens and a HUGE fridge ! Unfortunately, my kitchen is too small.
    My aunt lived in USA for 2 years when she was 20 years. At this time, in france, we didn’t find US fridge. So, she bought 2 “classic” fridge, that she putted stick together and she changed the sense of opening the door.
    This way she made her own US fridge.

    • October 6, 2012 3:42pm
      David Lebovitz

      Very resourceful! There are a more réfrigérateurs américains available in France, perhaps owing to the fact that folks don’t have time to shop daily anymore. But in Paris, where space is a consideration (and people are thrifty with electricity usage) they’re still not common in Parisian apartments. But like your aunt, once you get used to having the storage space, it’s hard to go back to a compact refrigerator.

  • October 6, 2012 3:10pm

    I love your new sink! That is one thing I am going to invest in when and if we remodel our kitchen. Working in restaurants really changes the way you cook/organize for sure, and I also want to have tons of Cambros if they weren’t that expensive.

    I hope you are now happy in your new space.

    I just got a new job as pastry chef and I bring your ice cream book with me all the time. Your blackberry lime sorbet was a big hit, so was the pear caramel ice cream, so thanks for writing that book!

  • Jennie
    October 6, 2012 3:27pm

    Speaking of old farmhouse sinks — have you seen the one at Monet’s house at Giverny? It is huge with a drain indentation along the back of the sink — it looked like the perfect place to wash garden vegetables or the big copper pots hanging in the kitchen. His kitchen was almost bigger than the dining room — no tiny Paris kitchen at his place!

  • October 6, 2012 3:42pm

    I’ll try reposting–having some trouble this AM. Please delete if it double posts. :)

    Great kitchen, David! Thanks for the tour. Love to see how you’ve solved problems and made it work for you. It looks ideal. Love your spatulas, too! Great shot of color.

    Couple of typos to watch for: you have “opne” for “open” and “In Paris, one can find them at Indian shops which aren’t all that sturdy,” kind of sounds like the Indian shops are not sturdy. :-\ Though, knowing Paris, they might only be held up by the buildings next to them, and date to the 1100’s…

  • soozzie
    October 6, 2012 3:45pm

    Great work, David! Thanks for the post!

    I’ve had the great gift of cooking with French friends in several Paris apartment kitchens as they produced epically wonderful food in cramped spaces with awkward furnishings and mysterious appliances. (There was once a dishwasher/oven combo!) I’ve been awed at seven course meals emerging from a postage-stamp sized kitchen with one saucepan, one frying pan,a roasting pan and a single baking dish. I also know from experience that it can take weeks of searching to find a single casserole. I hope that now that your kitchen is done — a marvel to behold anywhere, but nothing less than a miracle in Paris — that you will enjoy every moment you spend in it! And if you do write a book about it, I’ll be in line for a signed copy! Thanks again!

  • Joel
    October 6, 2012 4:13pm

    Speaking of Paris kitchens, have you heard of (or met) Rachael Khoo of Little Paris Kitchen fame? Her oven looks like a toaster oven (maybe it is), but she says she can cook any kind of meal there and ran a restaurant (for two people only) out of her apartment.

  • Susan
    October 6, 2012 4:14pm

    It’s good to see a kitchen that actually looks like a cook’s kitchen, with stuff on the counters with nary a bouquet of Jonquils or a bowl of lemons as a color accent! My kitchen looks similar with appliances and tools on the counter tops I sure wish I had an island counter so I didn’t have to face a wall when I’m working. Your kitchen looks good, David, I’m happy that you let us take a peek. Enjoy the space.

  • Dianna
    October 6, 2012 4:34pm

    It has been a pleasure to follow the construction progress on your kitchen and enjoyed seeing the photos – your kitchen is a delight. Thank you for sharing.

  • phanmo
    October 6, 2012 4:34pm

    “…baking sheets, as many standard European ovens are smaller and can’t accommodate a 17- or 18-inch sheet pan”

    This is a source of great frustration for me!

  • October 6, 2012 4:52pm

    Your kitchen is BEAUTIFUL. And way bigger than mine (which is a kitchen from the 1950s and tiny, no counter space or cupboards). I followed this process on Twitter so I do know it was not without its frustrations but wow – what a beautiful outcome! Enjoy!

  • Isabel
    October 6, 2012 4:59pm

    I love looking at kitchens. Especially when they are thought through and fit their users.
    I totally see the point in two ovens.

  • October 6, 2012 5:04pm

    Oh David, that looks absolutely wonderful! Many congratulations on a job superbly done (but then, from you I’d expect nothing less!).

    I die for your sink! Although I prefer stainless steel (you don’t have to bleach it EVERY time you make a cup of tea like you do white porcelain), in my next life I am going to have a kitchen big enough to have a double sink in it! (“Faucet” is tap, isn’t it? Not a word that’s really in my vocabulary,).

    My daughter is shortly to move house and, if they get the house they are hoping for, will need to remodel the kitchen fairly urgently. She says she wants all the mod cons like a wok burner – I didn’t know that was even a thing; my wok cooks things perfectly happily on the top of the stove….

  • October 6, 2012 5:04pm

    What a wonderful space you have there David. It’s bigger than I thought it would be for Paris and bigger than mine in the US!
    I love your sink and the faucet and the counter….pretty much everything!

    Thanks for a very entertaining post!

  • October 6, 2012 5:08pm

    Love your functional and ‘fit for a chef’ kitchen!! No wonder you spend so much time there! I can only imagine the stories you have while renovating…

  • October 6, 2012 5:09pm

    This both depresses and inspires. I guess I know the only thing I’ll be working on for the next year (or ten). PS- you k ow what they say about men with big sinks…

  • Vicki B
    October 6, 2012 5:09pm

    Wow! Your kitchen turned out amazing. And I wish you’d tell your “friend” to pipe down. There are some of us who need help in designing/organizing a kitchen and a book about accomplishing that feat in Paris would be a very good read, indeed.

  • GB
    October 6, 2012 5:09pm

    Thanks so much for the kitchen update. We are “downsizing” and I am leaving my 6 burner, double oven with a French top :-(. But I know that I will be just as happy with my smaller scale kitchen and food will taste just as good.

    • October 6, 2012 5:20pm
      David Lebovitz

      I “downsized” as well when I moved to Paris, and for nearly 10 years, had a very small kitchen and standard appliances. It’s not that hard to adapt but the trick is if you don’t have a lot of space, is to have only what’s necessary and also to have good-quality pots and pans, and utensils. It’s hard to cook/bake if you have to deal with things breaking, sticking, or whatever, and good equipment usually pays for itself in spades.

  • Jacklyn Kearns
    October 6, 2012 5:11pm

    How refreshing to see a fuctional and beautiful kitchen!!!! I already love your recipes…now I love your kitchen!!!! Thank you from a faithful Connecticut reader who will now scour the restaurant supply stores in my Tri-State backyard for my supplies!

  • Colette
    October 6, 2012 5:13pm

    thank you David – I’ve so enjoyed visiting your kitchen! I hope you will write a book about the experience, after the “wounds” heal.


  • October 6, 2012 5:14pm

    Love the new kitchen! That must take up nearly 1/2 the apartment. When I first moved to the UK I found it most bizarre to have a tiny litte fridge and a similarly tiny freezer, and who the heck has the washer/dryer in the kitchen? However that is all commonplace to me now, and I even enjoy hanging my clothes outside on a nice day.

    When I redid our kitchen though, in came the American style fridge as they call them over here and a dishwasher (don’t judge, I did wait 7 years). I have always had a dryer as I was mortified to see my mother in law hanging up my unmentionables one day in full view of any neighbors within a 5 mile radius.


  • October 6, 2012 5:15pm

    Good job,, David! I am an interior designer and believe ‘Form follows function! You achieved that and more. I remember cooking in a wee Paris kitchen and felt claustrophobic, haha. I’m curious, what percentage of your total apartment is the kitchen? Thanks for sharing.

  • October 6, 2012 5:16pm

    What a nice kitchen you have!

  • Lee Poteet
    October 6, 2012 5:20pm

    I am so envious that I will now have to go to confession. The one big thing in the world that I really want right now is a working kitchen and it looks to be a year before I will have one again. But I am going to take pointers from yours.

  • October 6, 2012 5:24pm

    I can testify that remodeling is challenging in any country. I love your kitchen; it looks like a space you’re going to be very happy working in. (And you may be the only person who has more whisks or rubber scrapers than I do!)

    Happy cooking!

  • October 6, 2012 5:25pm

    Love your French Kitchen. The island space is fabulous! I love to see “working” kitchens and not just pristinley perfectly spotless and clean that are clearly from model homes and the owners only eat out at restaurants. We put an offer on a home and I am stockpiling ideas for a total kitchen re-do since its still in it original early 90’s condition and one thing I love is the big French farm sink. I saw the Ikea one on a blog that had remodeled their kitchen for under $10k American dollars and it was a $150 sink, most I have seen are around $2k. But it is good to know your thoughts that it isn’t deep enough because I want to be able to load up all my big pots and large pans and baking sheets to soak as well so this may end up being my biggest purchase, because I too spend several hours a day washing dishes, even with having a dishwasher in the kitchen. Wow I am rambling. Anyway, love your blog, love your kitchen. Makes me want to visit you and watch you cook. But I won’t since that might be awkward since we don’t know each other! ha!

  • Chelsey
    October 6, 2012 5:26pm

    I love the look of your kitchen! The white is so clean and refreshing looking.

    Here are some great stainless mixing bowls with silicone bottoms that I would recommend:

    Pampered Chef Stainless Mixing Bowls

  • October 6, 2012 5:36pm

    As someone going through a similar renovation, although in the southern Loire region, I know what your friend means when he/she says, “Be more French, less American.” In the three years I’ve lived in a 200-plus-year-old tiny house with no kitchen (I used a corner of the living room which came with a huge sink next to the fireplace), I’ve learned to give up my American impatience and expectations and take a more laissez-faire attitude in order to survive. Turns out, it’s part of the charm of living here in France, just letting go of stuff, right? The real difference here is that people come into your house and they just don’t care how it’s designed or whether it has state of the art fixtures or rubbish. Easier to let go when you’re not feeling judged.

    Anyway, I’m in the midst of turning my bathroom into a kitchen (my builder’s suggestion but he groaned when I said I was going the Ikea route, warning me of multiple trips that would be required later, but thus far there haven’t been any mishaps, which even he grudgingly admits. I’ve gone your route–butcherblock countertops and virtually white cabinets with those same Varde cabinet pulls–where’s a Restoration Hardware when you need one?), but I draw the line at being more French when it comes to tolerating the muck ups my plumber generates with disturbing frequency–thank God for my builder who keeps an eagle eye out. It’s all been going on since late March and I’m hoping that, not including spackling and painting, the contractor part will be hopefully done by end of October. Thank God these guys don’t charge by the hour, is all I can say!

    I’m waiting nervously for the plumber and electrician to unwrap the new oven which is still sitting in the garage, as I’m hoping it’ll take the larger baking sheets I splurged on when visiting friends in the UK–£64 each at John Lewis; yikes! They’d better fit, is all I can say. (I couldn’t remember the interior size so I had to guess.) I don’t dare open the oven now in case the plumber doesn’t show up for weeks, as the grit that rains down from the tile roof every time it rains would prove disastrous, I’m sure.

    Thanks for making me feel I’m not alone in my travails. And I’ve delightedly bookmarked those mat sites because my friends looked at me oddly when I said I wanted rubber mats to “save” my feet from the hard tile floors.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • October 6, 2012 6:53pm
      David Lebovitz

      I made 8 trips to Ikea, which was not necessarily the fault of Ikea (enough said!) – but another contractor told me that he doesn’t use Ikea cabinets anymore because the insides are made in one country, and the doors made in another, and often they don’t fit together right. He recommended Lapèyre, even though others have told me about lengthy delays from them.

  • Nancy Fenstermacher
    October 6, 2012 5:36pm

    David, your kitchen looks so practical & quite large for Paris, but we can appreciate your having space to have many things going at same time. We have had an in-home bread baking business, Bakers at Red Lion, for 22 years, specializing in various French type breads & few sweets. We have just been featured in a local cookbook too. We appreciate your blog so much & cannot wait to read new book & try some of your goodies from Ready for Dessert while on vacation in Maine soon!! It is always fun to learn new techniques & gather new ideas, even at 67! Thanks again for bringing delight & good tastes to us.

  • Leila Figueiredo
    October 6, 2012 5:37pm

    Hi David, lovely Kitchen, I’m from Brazil and sometimes, If not always, I can’t find some of ingredients you list in yours recipes, but I’m a sttuborn person so I try to get a substitute for it.
    Thanks for a very enjoyable post.

  • Annie
    October 6, 2012 5:43pm

    Loved reading about your kitchen remodeling adventures. I wish I have a kitchen sink like yours. And I also seem to have collected a fair amount of whisks and spatulas. :-) Thanks for the ideas on storage. Look forward to your next entry!

  • pamela schmitz
    October 6, 2012 5:43pm

    Love the lay out of your kitchen (especially the stainless shelves) which is sooo hard to do in Paris. Bravo for your tenacity on the sink and shelf search. The island is great too.
    It’s very warm and looks clean and workable. You can see the resto touch.
    Oh and I agree about the dryer!


  • JoAnn
    October 6, 2012 5:44pm

    I love my GelPro mats and I love your blog. I’d bring them to you! I have some that appear to be the same length as yours so I know how much they weigh! I wouldn’t be able to pack a bag for myself, but if you’d let me do laundry at your place now that you have a dryer… ;-)

    I jest, I jest. Great post. Love your well-used kitchen. It looks like a place I’d like to be. When I shop for cooking and baking items I think more like a person who actually cooks. You are my kind of guy.

  • Linda
    October 6, 2012 5:45pm

    David, thank you for sharing les resultats of your remodeled kitchen with us. I am sure you will enjoy it for many, many years! all of your posts make me want to live in France again. ( I lived in Strasbourg in college. heavy sigh).

  • ron shapley
    October 6, 2012 5:47pm

    Now, that what I call a KITCHEN !!! On a side note… Isn’t it interesting that many so call civilized and modern countries are really just third world.. What an ordeal for you….I happy things turned out to you pleasure…

  • Sandy
    October 6, 2012 5:47pm

    Love it! Thanks for sharing. I can see the open shelving for you and your work, however, for me, no thanks! It looks good, but too dusty for me, a person with dust allergies. I love that you designed it with everything having a purpose and exactly how you wanted it. Do write that book.

  • Susan McKee
    October 6, 2012 5:49pm

    OH YES………that is the kitchen of my dreams! Good job. Now re the oven and the instructions……i was ust visiting my son at al in germany and althought the oven instructions were in English i still managed to burn the hell out of everything i put in it. There was C, there was a full fan mode, a half fan mode, and others, apparently it can defrost, dehydrate and the Goddess only knows what else! I finally just dec temps and went with the C mode and baked longer. The top was flat and was called invection and could go from 0 to boiling is seconds. Amazing. and of course, NO baking soda anywhere to e seen. Used up all the stuff i had brought to brush my teeth with :)
    Off to make the Harvest tart, thank you so much!!

  • Joanna Ryan
    October 6, 2012 5:53pm

    It is fabulous, and I’ll bet that now, it seems worth every bit of frustration that it entailed.

    Speaking of frustration, I get really frustrated by people who feel obliged to point out typos. So annoying. When I proofread my things I see what I meant to say, and then months later, when rereading it, I am horrified. Fortunately, my readers are never that rude.

  • Felicity O. Sydney, Australia
    October 6, 2012 6:00pm

    Thanks David. I have just spent a marvellous month in Paris and now in Provence for deux mois…….lucky me! Whilst in Paris I was lucky enough to do a day cooking with La Cuisine. You had been there just the week before, they told me. And sung your praises!
    I enjoyed reading about your renovation and particularly liked the ‘no gimic’ approach. I find there is so much snobbery about kitchen appliances……… really couldn’t possibly cook a meal without the latest steam oven!! I have a boat and can cook a most acceptable meal in a tiny space with a very small gas stove.
    I note the gas cooktop. I installed an induction cooktop about 4 years ago and it is the very best thing I have in my kitchen, totally transforms cooking. Are you not a fan of induction cooking?

  • Patricia
    October 6, 2012 6:07pm

    Finally! So pleased to hear more kitchen remodel details from you.
    We are redoing our small kitchen here and finally ripped out the dorm sized fridge and I too now have a real fridge,one that makes ice! I do love it.
    Sad to say 8 thousand euros for stainless counter with big built in sink will not happen but interesting to know we share the same frustrations.
    Plan b for back to the drawing board but if a dishwasher does not happen soon,I may have to move.
    I would love to hear your account of remodel

    • October 6, 2012 6:45pm
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t think you need to spend a fortune, although as mentioned, things in France can be quite expensive and there are no discount stores. I recently saw a $2000 sink advertised in the US. I thought that was a huge amount of money for something that basically holds dirty dishes, but I suppose some might think that the €200 I spent was a lot. Although I’ve read reports of cheap sinks that aren’t sloped correctly so the water doesn’t drain. But most major brands are well-made. But I hear ya on the dishwasher. I could not live without one.

  • Kathleen
    October 6, 2012 6:16pm

    David I LOVE YOUR KITCHEN!!! Congrats! So functional yet hip and inviting to both play in and entertain. Love it!

    Hey if you ever need anything from the states, just hit me up. I’m in California and I’m known amongst my friends as thee “Bargain Betty” so I can look for deals over here and if I find them, I’ll just get them and ship them over; no problem. You’ve done wonders in lifting my spirits during dark days of my life, and have posted so many wonderful recipes that I have enjoyed making and sharing with friends. It’s the least I could do for a “friend” I’ve never met. Just let me know!


  • October 6, 2012 6:25pm

    At last. I’ve been waiting to see a photo! It’s fantastic, especially the wood counters. We had a small one in our kitchen and I took it out for granite when we remodeled, because it was all scratched and the varnish was peeling off. Also who the heck varnishes a wood countertop? I didn’t like the idea.

    Your kitchen looks typical of American ones because it’s big. Is it it a lot larger than typical French kitchens?

  • Merrily
    October 6, 2012 6:30pm

    Great article–would love to know the brand of the ovens you purchased and, are you happy with the microwave feature on your combo oven?

    • October 6, 2012 6:42pm
      David Lebovitz

      I am happy with the microwave feature, although it’s kind of a pain to have to keep removing the metal shelving when you want to use the microwave feature. But it’s not the end of the world : )

  • judy
    October 6, 2012 6:33pm

    David, I am not remodelIng a kitchen and don’t live in Paris :(
    but I have followed your ‘new kitchen’ project from the beginning and am so thrilled to see that you are to the point of enjoying your results! She is a true beauty!
    I so love your blog and look forward to your updates..I’m certain that I hear your voice when I read them because I’m sure that you write exactly the way you speak.
    Continue your adventure … knowing there are many thousands of fans applauding you.
    Big love and congrats..

  • Kathryn
    October 6, 2012 6:36pm

    Hi David,

    Thanks for sharing pictures and writing about your new kitchen! I especially like the picture of dishes in the sink ready to be washed! Looks just like my sink :) The island and bar stools are terrific. We just started ordering everything for our kitchen remodel and I’m trying to stay focused on keeping it functional over “pretty”. The decision making already seems overwhelming. Hopefully I’ll still be married at the end of it all! I look forward to reading about all your new experiences and wonderful recipes you will be creating in your new space!

    • October 6, 2012 6:41pm
      David Lebovitz

      There always seem to be dishes in the sink – unfortunately! (Can’t someone make a self-washing sink?) Yes, I think it’s good to stick to classics. However there are new innovations that come out from time-to-time. Yet in my experience (and most folks who use computers can relate..), it’s often best to wait and see how they perform in the long run. I have a washer-dryer in the US that was some fancy new technology that the company said was going to revolutionize washing machines. And I don’t think they’re even made anymore (!)

  • October 6, 2012 6:47pm

    Gorgeous job David, love the simple, practical aspect of the new kitchen, well worth all the pain (maybe it’s easy for me to say). After what seems like months of aggravation, i’m sure you’ll forget the hardship in no time at all, and enjoy years of endless pleasure, cooking and eating with friends, Bon Appetite

    BTW – when one day you sell your home, know for a fact that you’ll do it speedily, kitchen renovations rank tops in home upgrades that are worth undertaking …

  • Annette
    October 6, 2012 6:49pm

    Congratulations on surviving the remodel! I’m sure you’re very happy in your nice new kitchen. I could have sworn I saw a peek of shiny red cabinets (or stove?) in an early shot of your renovations, tho! LOL I do like the white. I probably only noticed because cabinet color was the only major mishap in our Paris remodel–Darty sent out grey blue cabinets instead of the taupe we ordered. In the end, we agreed to keep them in exchange for a big chunk of €€ back, but I still have a twinge of regret. Had we ordered white, they couldn’t have messed that up! (oh wait…yes, they could have!).

  • Lisa W.
    October 6, 2012 6:50pm

    Thank you for all the great pictures and details on your new kitchen. I know it was hard work to get it all together. Tip back a martini. Or two. You deserve it!

  • October 6, 2012 7:03pm

    Your kitchen looks practical and attractive, and YAY for Le Creuset spatulas — I give one as part of our gift to every marrying couple we know.

  • October 6, 2012 7:04pm

    Your kitchen is AWESOME. When we lived in Paris 10 years ago, I installed a kitchen galley from IKEA with a similar look but much smaller. I had open stainless shelving too…not as sturdy as your Swiss ones…plates and bowls were fine, but we broke a few wine glasses when they vibrated off. Livin’ the dream…aren’t you?

  • Pema
    October 6, 2012 7:04pm

    Love your kitchen! Just wonder how you manage with only a 4 burner stove top. And what you keep in cabinets that are at ceiling level….not very accessible.

  • Jean
    October 6, 2012 7:12pm

    Please. . .ignore the friend who doesn’t want a book on the remodel. I’ve been hoping all along that we’d get a book out of your experiences, along with the recipes and eating establishments that helped you survive it all.

  • October 6, 2012 7:15pm

    A very large and roomy city kitchen!

  • October 6, 2012 7:16pm

    When you least expect, you will hear a bump in the night…fret not! Return to your slumber; It’s just me, stealing away with your kitchen.
    It’s beautiful!

  • Sue Miller
    October 6, 2012 7:20pm

    Your kitchen inspired me to make a comment. It is a gorgeous kitchen! I’m sure your French friends are bowled over when they first see it. It is far larger and brighter than any French kitchen I have been in except for the one at La Varenne in Burgundy,…that was a TEACHING kitchen. I do not envy what you went through to get it however. You must have the patience of Job. My wish for you is many many happy cooking hours be spent in your new kitchen with your new appliances, counters, clothes dryer, and bright cabinets and shelves. Well-done!

  • October 6, 2012 7:34pm

    Thank you for showing us your kitchen. It’s my favorite room in my house and I love seeing kitchens of people that actually use them! I just went through a total gut two years ago and it is exhausting. I should have moved out for the three months it took because it was just too disruptive to my life. I saved a lot of money by finding the things I needed on ebay and amazon.

  • Adrienne
    October 6, 2012 7:38pm

    Congratulations David on the completion of your kitchen renovation!
    The best time in a renovation is when you realize that you have been working in your new kitchen for a while and it really works.

  • Mimi Wallace
    October 6, 2012 7:39pm

    Love your new kitchen! Very inspirational. I live in NYC in a pre-War building on Riverside Drive and the kitchen came equipped with a huge porcelain double sink! Never knew it was a “farmhouse sink”, but it certainly does the job when it comes to accommodating many pots, large cookie sheets, etc. Many people rip them out and replace them with something more modern and chic (and smaller!) when renovating. I chose to keep mine and am forever glad I did.

  • October 6, 2012 7:40pm

    It’s perfect. I love it because it looks like a kitchen that is used and not just for show. Love it! Yes, do write a book about it.

  • October 6, 2012 7:48pm

    I mean.
    I have no word
    It is amazing
    and I do envy you so so much!



  • October 6, 2012 7:53pm

    I followed your kitchen remodel from beginning to end. As someone who loves a “redo”
    my heart was with you. I’ve worked on several houses and my absolute favorite project is a mid-century modern mineral spa. When remodeling I let the property tell me what it needs as long as it isn’t a $1,000.00 kitchen sink. Enjoy your new playroom
    and I will enjoy your shared experiences coming from it.

  • ClaireD
    October 6, 2012 8:20pm

    LOVE your kitchen!!! We have the same faucet and it’s worth it’s weight in gold. I adore the blue/white vessel that holds your spatulas. No cake pans? And I’m in serious envy of your orange casserole dish!

    Beautiful pictures of a beautiful kitchen!


  • Danièle
    October 6, 2012 8:34pm

    Very nice kitchen which is quite an accomplishment considering it is in a Paris apartment. It would be the envy of my Parisiens friends. thanks for your very entertaining blog.

  • Jeanette
    October 6, 2012 8:35pm

    Your kitchen is gorgeous and inviting. Thank you for keeping it real. I don’t feel so bad about constantly ‘living’ in mine. :)
    Enjoy it, you’ve earned it!

  • Helen
    October 6, 2012 8:38pm

    Congratulations, David!!!! What a wonderful, workable, well stocked kitchen! I am so glad that you are now in your element and can create! I am also glad that your kitchen is a “working” kitchen, as mine is…even though I am not at all your caliber of cook! I tell everyone that my kitchen is not messy, it is “working”…now I can add “like David’s”… :)

    I wish you many happy hours in your wonderful kitchen…and, of course, many more of your yummy recipes for me to try! Bon Chance!

  • Sophie
    October 6, 2012 8:38pm

    Daveed, can you give us a little preview of what cookbook you are working on? Love your kitchen!

    October 6, 2012 8:43pm

    David A great kitchen and your photos make it so inviting. I, too, am always in the kitchen.


  • James in Seattle
    October 6, 2012 8:43pm

    Thanks for sharing the snaps of your new kitchen. So many of us have been curious about how it all turned out. It’s nice to see the end result.

  • October 6, 2012 9:00pm

    I learned I had a strong marriage when we remodelled our kitchen. I smiled when you consistently chose form and function over curlicules and trends. But I’d trade my white sink in for a stainless steel.

  • Toby
    October 6, 2012 9:07pm

    Thanks David. Great looking. Do you actually chop directly on your butcher block if so, any good stain removers?
    I put in an elkay stainless sink 10 years ago. Its about 18″ deep and when i fill it with hot bubbly water, it hides the dinner dishes while i serve dessert.

    • October 7, 2012 12:10am
      David Lebovitz

      I chop some things directly on the counter, mainly things like bread and vegetables. But for anything messy or juicy, I use a cutting board. I don’t mind the wear on a butcher block counter, but a friend in England recommended Osmo oil, which is made in Germany. She swears by it and says it’s the perfect sealer and finish for wood countertops, but it’s not available in France for reasons that I’m not quite sure of (although curiously, it’s available on Amazon in the US) and she’s bringing me some from England on her next visit.

  • Norine
    October 6, 2012 9:10pm

    Oh what a comfortable looking kitchen. Thanks for the reveal after sharing your agony of the construction. I’m in serious envy of that staircase that may be at one end of that kitchen? When can we see it?

  • Nancy
    October 6, 2012 9:13pm

    What a treat — getting a good solid peak into your kitchen! Can I ask where you bought your Cambro containers in NYC?

  • lq
    October 6, 2012 9:15pm

    I gutted and redid my kitchen in the fall of 2008; it took seven months, but I love it. When you wrote that you were doing a kitchen remodel it resonated, and I am thrilled that you and I have a lot of the same elements. I wanted a cool working surface as well as butcher block; since I had little $$ (the ‘fall’ of 2008, eh), I have a combination of butcher block and galvanized sheet metal. Yes, acid makes interesting patterns on the galv (tomato juice, lemon juice, bread dough) but they fade and are changed by new splashes. I found a large single stainless steel sink after a long search. I am very short, so no ‘up’ cabinets – I hang art above my counters. My kitchen is very large, and I am fortunate to have a wall of huge windows looking out into my back yard trees, as well as windows above my counters and a pass through looking into the dining room – so restful for the eyes. I am 72 yo, and will fight the furies to stay in my kitchen!
    Thank you so very much for sharing – your kitchen is magnificent!

  • October 6, 2012 9:20pm

    Love it, love it, love your new, bright kitchen. I remember your quest for the farmhouse sink – it looks so good in your new workspace. I’m thinking of upgrading my current faucet to one with a pull-down sprayer – they’re so useful.

    I have two gelpro mats and I really love them (although they do have a tendency to slide around on my tile floor a bit). I’ll make you a deal – if ever I get to Paris, I’ll bring you a gelpro if you take me on a food tour of the city.

    Oh, and I had to smile when I saw all your whisks and spatulas. None of my friends understand why I have so many. Glad I’m not alone.

  • P Adams
    October 6, 2012 9:21pm

    Fabulous kitchen. I love everything about it. Thank you for showing us how it turned out.

  • October 6, 2012 9:29pm

    Oh, and those stainless shelves are fabulous. Great idea.

  • October 6, 2012 9:37pm

    … thank you for updating us on the kitchen; now, the rest of the place, please!

  • Fran
    October 6, 2012 9:41pm

    Thank you for sharing your kitchen. My husband remodeled our 1960’s kitchen using most of the products from Ikea. We have no upper cabinets with the exception of the ones above the two pullout pantries and built in refrigerator. All the drawers on the bottom are extra large to hold dishes and pans. In the old kitchen, my counter space was limited to one counter measuring 24 x 30 inches. Now I have a large island and two large counters on either side of the stand alone oven/cook top. Granted it is much easier to find what we needed in the States. However, it still took my husband one year working on weekends and nights to finish. The kitchen is beautiful and functional and has everything I need. It’s been two years since the kitchen was finished and I still think, “Wow, is this really my kitchen!”. I follow your blogs and tweets. Thank you for all the smiles you give me each day!

  • Elaine
    October 6, 2012 9:49pm

    I’m so happy for you. Your kitchen is wonderful. Your photos and comments always brighten my day. I find it difficult to understand why some people who respond feel they must edit your grammar, etc.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful kitchen.


  • Shelly
    October 6, 2012 9:52pm

    Those high cabinets are perfect for jelly strainers, canning equipment, holiday decorations and other things that are essential, but seldom used. Most contractors put in a soffit above kitchen cabinets, which fill the space and look nice, but waste precious storage space.

  • Bebe
    October 6, 2012 10:07pm

    Your kitchen is excellent, David….thank you so much for sharing the photographs and your commentary on what went into achieving this very custom room. The best kitchen is the one that its owner/user suits to himself, either from scratch or by adaptation.

    A kitchen is not a museum, not perpetually on a home tour, so it should be a room that reflects its owner’s use. If that includes things on counters and tables, and some dishes in the sink, so be it.

    You have shared some great ideas, many of which we can think about and emulate, or nearly so.

    You do this every day, and we appreciate it….and you.

  • October 6, 2012 10:08pm

    whew! I was beginning to wonder if we would ever see and hear le fini of your kitchen- office-playroom epic. Seeing the post I know you did take one moment to step back and take a breath and click a few for us. Thanks for that, raising a glass to your happy future together, you and your sweet kitchen.

  • Bebe
    October 6, 2012 10:09pm

    (Note to Elaine: We can never get away from nannies and those who always “know better”. Shhhh….)

  • October 6, 2012 10:25pm

    Dreams do come true with a lot of blood, sweat and tears!
    Felicitations on your new beautiful bebe David

  • Michelle
    October 6, 2012 10:26pm

    The Cambros were the first things I noticed in your first photo and wondered where in Paris you found them until I read further. They are an obsession! I would live to build my dream kitchen someday, but can settle reading vicariously through your post without the stress and mess. Cheers!

  • Brittany
    October 6, 2012 10:41pm

    C’est une belle cuisine! I love how light and modern it is, and, quite frankly, how large it appears! A little different than what you’ve been going through, but our (only) bathroom has been under remodel since mid-August, and I understand your frustration. Though they are completely different things, I think we’ve both been very inconvienced by the lack of access to something we love; you, easy access to your supplies and kitchen. For me, it was lack of access to a shower 24/7. As of today, we can use the shower (thankfully!), and all that’s got to be done now are the floor and countertops. I’m hoping it’ll all be done and over with by Halloween!

  • Alan Wilhite
    October 6, 2012 10:44pm

    Thanks for sharing your cuisine. I am in the process of replacing my sink and faucet and I can relate to your quest for a “big white sink”. I would have though that to be a common item, but I know now that it is a “special order”. Anyway, after weeks of sweating over what would be best I just hope when it is done it will be as nice and functional as yours. My kitchen is a work in progress, next stop….kitchen island.