ma cuisine

stovetop

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.

spatulas

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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249 comments

  • 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,
    Merisi

  • 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 ;-)

    Adrian

  • 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’…..you 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
    http://www.davidterryart.com

  • 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 http://www.lakeland.co.uk – 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

    David,
    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.

    Colette

  • 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.

    Steph

  • 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!

    p77

  • 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).
    Linda

  • 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………..you 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!

    -Kathleen

  • 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, but..um…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!

    really

    g

  • 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!

    Thanks,
    Claire

  • 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!

  • SUZANNE
    October 6, 2012 8:43pm

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

    -Suzanne

  • 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.

    Elaine

  • 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
    Carolg

  • 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.

  • Christine
    October 6, 2012 10:50pm

    Every time I watch one of those House Hunter shows in Paris, I wondered about your apartment and how the remodel was coming along.

    Early this AM (like 1:00 on the West Coast), I looked at past posts (some of which have links to the rest of the posting that no longer work BTW) but nothing.

    And lo, here is this lovely post about your lovely finished kitchen. Beautiful – hope you never move!

  • renée
    October 6, 2012 10:57pm

    David,

    thanks for sharing your kitchen remodel journey… i envy your life in Paris but not the hell you went through to make this kitchen happen :)… glad that instead of a book, you wrote several blog posts about it, which someone like moi, who, you never know, may end up living in Paris, and will have the grateful privilege of having an easier go of it because she can follow your lead…

    when I saw the last photo in the post that showed your whole kitchen layout, I laughed! That is almost exactly my kitchen layout (which we inherited when we bought the house we live in now in Toronto), except my stove is where your food processor is, about two feet from my fridge… I have the same HUGE wood island counter (a la IKEA) with substantial overhang and even the same (knock off) Emeco Navy chairs (our addition) around my counter in exactly the same configuration… my island however, is sadly not outfitted with electrical and a lovely second oven… it does have two counter long open shelves down below and three large drawers where we keep our knives and serving utensils… i was never a fan of open shelving until we inherited this massive IKEA island but it works especially since it is just below any guests line of sight so it can be messy but still makes it easy to find all our pots, pans and baking sheets. I’m short so bending down to the open shelves actually works well for me but is a little more awkward for my tall husband. It’s also handy because the kids can easily play with pots and pans and tend to stay out of the other cupboards/drawers around our kitchen…

    Congrats on making this kitchen a reality and thank you for the gel mat recommendation — so getting one since we spend so much time in our kitchen, standing at our lovely massive island… I hope you are enjoying your space and your time in what you brought together…

    • October 7, 2012 12:19am
      David Lebovitz

      I like the Emeco chairs, except because the rear legs stick out, they get tripped over frequently. There aren’t a lot of good options here for attractive bar stools (most are lucite, and are either green or pink) although I was torn between these and either the Tolix or another brand whose name slips my mind.

      I’ve been pretty happy with the rug that I bought for around €30. It’s machine-washable too!

  • LeeLee
    October 6, 2012 11:10pm

    David,
    Thanks for finally sharing pictures of your beautiful kitchen. It looks great and most importantly, it sounds like it suits you — which is all that really matters. I hope you are fully enjoying it (and by the pictures it certainly looks that way).

    I’m glad you gave up on getting someone to bring you the gel mats. They are great underfoot, but with frequent use the edges start to curl and they become a tripping hazard. They are mighty expensive to toss after two or three years! I’m officially done with them. Now, rubber bottomed stainless steel bowls, I’d keep after. Stacking ones with handles and pour spouts were my best Tuesday Morning buy ever.

    If I could redo one part of my kitchen redo, I’d love a drain in the floor. But then I couldn’t have wood floors. Nah, never mind. It’s just an OCD cleaning fantasy that would be ruined by a compulsive need to sterilize another drain hole.

  • October 6, 2012 11:26pm

    David, your kitchen is dreamy! I know you were hesitant to give us a tour, but I am so glad you did. I love that your photos show how you really use your space, as opposed to what some magazine stylist would have us believe. It makes your kitchen even more appealing. I would love a kitchen like this for myself!

  • Lorri
    October 6, 2012 11:36pm

    It’s beautiful and thanks for the kitchen sources. Do you mind sharing one more…what is your favorite type of kitchen towel? It’s so hard to find good ones in the states!

    • October 7, 2012 10:31am
      David Lebovitz

      I collect French linen towels when I see them inexpensively at flea markets, but I use just regular cotton towels as well, which are a little more absorbant.

  • Diane Cooper
    October 7, 2012 12:00am

    Beautiful! Thanks for showing it to us, and for keeping it real looking!! I would rather a nice open functional kitchen like yours, than one that is so pretty and ornate I would be afraid to use it!
    Merci beaucoup!
    Diane

  • Suzi
    October 7, 2012 12:48am

    What a gorgeous functional kitchen! I love the choices you made!
    Thanks for sharing with us!

  • October 7, 2012 12:50am

    Pure gorgeousness. Worth all your travails.

    Amuses-toi bien dans ta nouvelle cuisine!

  • Karen
    October 7, 2012 12:53am

    It looks beautiful, David! Well done!

  • Anne Marie Barletta
    October 7, 2012 1:00am

    Thank you for the kitchen update. I have been wondering if it had gotten the best of you and you had abandoned the entire project…..now I see that WE will be getting the best of you via your new kitchen / office……lucky lucky us!

  • October 7, 2012 1:03am

    Gorgeous. Been so wonderful to watch the progress and even the frustration. Looking forward to see all the great things that come out of this space.

  • October 7, 2012 1:17am

    Been waiting for this for quite awhile – so glad to see it…reflecting your colorful personality! Best to you in your new kitchen. It’s very nice, in spite whatever it might lack for you.

  • October 7, 2012 1:23am

    Beautiful Kitchen!

  • MIchael Duffy
    October 7, 2012 1:27am

    Thanks a billion! I didn’t think you were going to share your new kitchen with the rest of us, but I’m pleased that you did. The new kitchen will give you a wonderful space to try out new recipes to share with the rest of us. I’m excited about that. And I’m sure you’ll enjoy the space and the equipment. Lucky you!

  • Caitlin
    October 7, 2012 2:46am

    Looks fabulous David. Functional but also pleasing to the eye. I’m very jealous of all your cupboard space. In my next kitchen I want lots of space to keep all of my cake tins and other assorted kitchen paraphernalia (I swear that it breeds).
    I’m so glad you decided to post these as I had been wondering how the whole renovation story had panned out.

  • Jay
    October 7, 2012 3:46am

    Beautiful kitchen. Thanks for posting it.

  • Sandi Bell
    October 7, 2012 4:05am

    Loved seeing the finished kitchen. It’s great! What happened to the secret stairs you uncovered in the renovation?

  • Mimi
    October 7, 2012 4:21am

    David,

    I became one of your ardent fans when my daughter gave me a copy of The Sweet Life in Paris. She is married with two little ones, is a VP of a major US corp., and moved from Sausalito to Kentfield, CA with husband and children two years ago. The “new” house was built in 1959, updated in 1980, and is in serious need of a total reno. The kitchen will be expanded, bien sûr. I just sent your latest blog to her, to help her with ideas. My husband and I were in Kentfield last week, and I didn’t even look at the latest house plans.

    I’m sure she’ll appreciate the sources and photos that you included.

    I enjoy your blog every day!

    Mimi

  • Sarahb1313
    October 7, 2012 4:34am

    Thank-you very much for sharing your new kitchen!

    As a true amateur, it’s really fun to see what priorities you have in putting together yours.

    My sister did some professional cooking years ago in her first career and she has often led me when I would go astray and find myself falling for the hype of marketing.

    If I had nothing else, my chef’s knife, paring knife, giant cutting board, silicon spatula and my stand mixer would do me just fine….
    And my mixing bowls, and my slowly accumulated pots and pans bought discounted over 20 yrs, and my scale, and wooden spoons… OK, I am a little spoiled.

    But. I did learn to bake in a NYC kitchen with a single 3foot counter.

    Thanks, again. Fun following along.

  • October 7, 2012 4:42am

    Fantastic kitchen. When I saw the before photos and all the troubles getting gear I was concerned you might not be happy but wow.

    Maybe the cabinet height in France is for short people like me? I’d have stand on a stool to make a cake in your kitchen.

  • Sonia
    October 7, 2012 4:42am

    I love your kitchen and I love the photos of it taken in the midst of real life. But I have to ask: where did the cement mixer go? I can’t get along without mine.

  • Maria
    October 7, 2012 5:00am

    congratulations, so pretty!
    i will bring gel mats for you when i come to paris :)

  • Terry
    October 7, 2012 5:00am

    Love the kitchen. Hope to do the same in the future!! J’aime bien vos pensees sur la vie en France!! Vous etes tres sages!!!!

  • October 7, 2012 5:21am

    Ben waiting for this! So nice and roomy! I live in a small house in L.A. with a galley kitchen so I am one American envious of your small Parisian kitchen. Looking forward to reading about all the delicious creations that come out of it.

  • Brbara Martin
    October 7, 2012 6:04am

    Dear David
    I too have been through a kitchen renovation. It seems to have taken forever. By the time I got every thing back in the cupboards, I couldn’t remember how to cook! A deep large sink was a necessity too. I am sure everyone knows there are many different colors of stainless. If you want the faucet to match the sink you have to shop and shop. My happiest accident was the extra wide counter because we built in the refrigerator space and the rest of the base cabinets on that wall were made the depth of the built in refrigerator cabinet. which makes a counter that is deep enough for mixer and canisters etc. and you can still roll out dough without moving anything. Anyone doing a renovation has my sympathy. I am thrilled to see you are finally in a completed kitchen enjoying your work again. But I have enjoyed your adventure too David. Cheers! Barbara in Phx, (PD’s from SF friend)

  • PoopseyMarie
    October 7, 2012 6:06am

    Oh David!! What a lovely, wonderfully workable kitchen. You have done an exceptional job at incorporating all the “likes’ and “neccessities” into a limited, yet ample space. Love, love, love your new kitchen!!

  • Pam
    October 7, 2012 6:23am

    Thank you, great post! I am enjoying your
    new softcover issue of your dessert book.
    Yum!

  • corrine
    October 7, 2012 6:43am

    Wow, been waiting for this post. Was wondering what finally happened to your kitchen project. Been wanting to renovate my kitchen since I cook and bake a lot for my family. True, renovating is not for the faint hearted. Thanks for this post and all your very informative and humorous posts. Love them! Hope to buy your new cookbooks soon!

  • Jeff
    October 7, 2012 7:08am

    Imagine that – pictures of a kitchen that someone actually lives and cooks in. It’s quite rare to see (at least to me it is). I think it’s fantastic!

    I’ve been so looking forward to you making this post. After putting so much into its creation, I’m sure it took a bit of courage making such a private space so public. Thanks so much.

    You can use food grade mineral oil on your wood countertops. Most of the expensive oils sold for treating butcher blocks, cutting boards, countertops, etc. are usually just that. Food grade mineral oil is usually sold at most pharmacies.

    Do you like your Oxo POP storage containers? I’ve been thinking I might try them.

    • October 7, 2012 10:28am
      David Lebovitz

      I spent quite a while a few years ago looking for mineral oil for my regular cutting board and no one had it. When I asked, peoplel said to just use olive oil – which goes rancid, so I didn’t want to use it. But I did check in pharmacies and hardware stores, etc. (I later found out that Ikea actually sells mineral oil, although my countertops took three coats, and still could use more!) I think in France, some people use linseed oil and some say that pure walnut oil is good for countertops. But I’m looking forward to using that product that I mentioned in a previous comment as I was told it’s amazing.

      And yes, I love those Oxo containers. They come in a lot of sizes, store easily and the lids snap shut with an easy press of the button, and create an airtight seal. The tall thin ones don’t take up a lot of space, either.

  • Deborah
    October 7, 2012 8:49am

    After viewing the photographs of your kitchen, I don’t feel so bad about the mess in mine (although yours does seem to be more of an organised clutter!) And don’t you have your perky happy ending? It seems you have the kitchen for which you worked very hard. I like it and I like the approach you had to designing and outfitting it. Very sensible – are you sure you aren’t living in Switzerland?!

  • Ake
    October 7, 2012 8:57am

    Congratulations on your new kitchen. It is certainly beautiful and well thought out to give you a great place for your kitchen adventures. Having also had the pleasure (displeasure) of remodelling my own kitchens in several countries (Spain, Bulgaria, Ireland) over the last decade I totally understand your problems dealing with local contractors and suppliers. It wasn’t until my latest kitchen here in Ireland that I had an experience which I can say was “enlightening” to say the least. It was also a bit frustrating in that I knocked my head several times having not thought of it before.

    Upon a friend’s suggestion I spent the day at the local Ikea store in the kitchen section using their freely available computers, software and design ideas based on my kitchen size and layout. Yes they want you to purchase from them but if you don’t that is also ok. With the printed plans in hand (3d and 2d) I went ahead and got 3 quotes from local kitchen “experts” in my area. At the end of it nobody could beat the Ikea price for hardware and their recommended contractors price for installation. The process from designing and buying the hardware from Ikea took 1 day. The contractor took 2 days to prepare my kitchen and 1 day to install. Unbelievable. Yes I am Swedish so some bias but I highly recommend this route for anyone wanting to change/ remodel their kitchen. Of course it helps if there is an Ikea nearby but you can also do it online where you can print/ save the plans to show your contractor ;-)

    • October 7, 2012 10:23am
      David Lebovitz

      I spent a pretty awful day at Ikea. They have a “Kitchen-Only” store near Paris, so I went there, thinking without all the other stuff, they could just concentrate on the kitchen. Unfortunately their online program didn’t work on my computer and the “Help” section had instructions for, um, 2007.

      Hoo-boy..we were given a number and told the wait was three hours, minimum. I laughed because I thought they were kidding. Then a man said he had already been there 2 1/2hrs. After waiting over 3 hours – I think it may have been 4 (and there is nothing to do in that store, which only has a snack bar, and the server had a runny nose and he kept wiping it and serving food with the same hand) – they called our number and the person helped us for literally 30 seconds before running away and leaving to go help someoneo else. Everyone was having a horrible time; one woman was nearly in tears (me too), and I got down on my knees and begged them to help me just for five minutes. People were flipping out. Consequently, we were there for 7 hours, total. And I had to go back seven times after that because of problems. So I did learn something and not sure if I would use Ikea again.

      (I had an Ikea kitchen once in SF and they forgot one cabinet in the order, and when I went back to get it, they said that they didn’t know when it would be back in stock. So I had a hole in my kitchen for 9 months, where that 1 cabinet should have been.)

  • Ruth L
    October 7, 2012 9:39am

    Thanks for inviting us into your kitchen, David. So informative about what you chose and why.

    I’d be very interested to hear what modifications were made for your faucet. Have toyed with the idea of bringing one over from the States (ironically, made in Germany). A really good faucet with a retractable head and both spray and solid stream options has been hard to find, and when I do, the price is stupefying.

    • October 7, 2012 10:25am
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, it’s odd how things made nearby are often available in the states for a lot less money. Hose-style faucets are really expensive here and when I went into a plumbing store with a picture of one from a professional-kitchen catalog, they could not believe that I’d want one in my home kitchen.

  • Hannah
    October 7, 2012 10:21am

    I don’t care if you promised your friend not to write the book. You should do a real expose. Maybe let some others in on what they ight be in for, should they decide to take the plunge. The stress sounds considerable.

    I’ve been thinking about you, hoping you’d be settled soon. It’s been so long, and like everyone else, I’m sooooo happy for you!

  • Olivia
    October 7, 2012 11:20am

    It’s very kind and generous of you to share pics of your kitchen. I love the practicality of it. It makes sense and serves its purpose. I noted the containers with torn labels inside to identify the contents. I do that with all the types of flour I keep too and it made me smile that you do the same. You’re so inspiring. Thanks for keeping it real.

  • Debbie
    October 7, 2012 12:08pm

    Dear David,
    Thank you so much for your blog showing your kitchen setup. Could I ask you do the anti-fatigue mats really work?

    Thank you so much!

    Debbie
    Melbourne, Australia

  • Marina
    October 7, 2012 2:05pm

    The kitchen looks fantastic! Quick question – where in NYC did you go for the Cambro containers? Thanks!

  • October 7, 2012 2:10pm
    David Lebovitz

    Nancy and Marina: I got mine at Broadway Restaurant Supply and some at Smart and Final, although they’re available at just about any restaurant supply store in the states, and on Amazon.

    (Note that if you buy them online, or anywhere, the lids are usually sold separately.)

    In Europe, Nisbets – who I mentioned in the post – sells similar containers.

  • October 7, 2012 2:18pm

    Hi, David, your blog is like therapy for me, as misery loves company! When our family moved to Paris 18 months ago for my husband’s expat job, our apartment literally contained nothing but the kitchen sink, a fact my American friends never believe. The relocation assistance company suggested we purchase our kitchen from Darty, which we did, but it was almost three months before it was installed! Our three children were 2, 6, and 11 at the time, so you can imagine how much fun my life was without a functional kitchen for so long. The real kicker for me was having to go to Darty for a 3-hour meeting where the designer used the basic measurements I provided to plan out the entire kitchen. Then after sending out someone to take the real, technical measurements, I had to go back again for another long meeting to re-do the entire thing. I bemoan daily the lack of a garbage disposal in my sink, so I certainly appreciate the pluck and determination it took to get the faucet and sink you wanted and needed. Kudos to you!

  • Mollie@Kitchen Accessories
    October 7, 2012 2:22pm

    Anti-fatigue mats sounds interesting. I will look for it in the near store. Like you I stand for the long time in my kitchen and most of the time I’ve got legs cramps.Hope to find like this.

  • jo
    October 7, 2012 2:52pm

    Your kitchen look fabulous: thank you for your generosity in telling us about your home, and for passing on some great tips and ideas.

    Anti-fatigue mats – I’ve brought back several in my suitcase in journeys from the US to England, over the years, as I have a very unforgiving terracotta pamment floor – and they make washing up so much easier on my ankles. Never heard of anyone else doing it before- glad to know its not just me!

  • Ann Marie FRETTS
    October 7, 2012 3:08pm

    Great clean lines, with easy visual access to everything a chef or home cook would need for a quick snack or a banquet. Love it!
    Thank you for sharing the ongoing process of your project, it allowed us a peek inside French culture and their business practices. We use your experiences as our guide to purchasing anything in Paris.
    Enjoy your wonderful home.

  • Toby
    October 7, 2012 4:12pm

    David, As always thanks for your great blog. I see that you have a french door refrigerator and the right side is against a wall. Does the right door open enough and stay open when in use. We remodeled our kitchen 14 years ago and put in a side-by-side refrigerator and the right side is against a wall (same as yours). When I open the refrigerator it never stays open, I need to use my leg to keep it open as I juggle to get something in or out. Just wondering when it goes to refrigerator heaven, if french door is the way to go. Thanks.

  • Marnie
    October 7, 2012 4:13pm

    Great kitchen, but one of my favourite machines is missing–a “Thermomix”, or a “Bimby” as they are known in Europe. Marnie

    • October 7, 2012 5:00pm
      David Lebovitz

      They once offered me a Thermomix to borrow, to play around with (they’re pretty expensive – around €1000, I think), then they decided not to lend me one after all. So I didn’t think it was something I’d use enough to warrant shelling out that kind of money for.

      (Kenwood has a new mixer called the Cooking Chef, for around the same price, with a heating element in it, too.)

  • October 7, 2012 4:40pm

    Thanks for the tour of your new place.

    I’m the most-frequent dishwasher in our family and I’m short, not tall. I want those short counters!

  • October 7, 2012 5:21pm

    David, thanks for sharing your kitchen (and your kitchen skills). I like that it works more like a studio, all about efficiency and the ability to create. Love those fauve spatulas and that amazing sink, great score btw. Also love that you left the cook top, it seems like a good old friend.

  • Elizabeth
    October 7, 2012 5:24pm

    I can’t believe you’ve managed to make a kitchen like this exist in Paris, I’m incredibly impressed. Clearly all the hard work was worth it. If only my tiny Parisian kitchen was even an eighth of this size….

  • kathryn
    October 7, 2012 5:25pm

    Oh, David. I DO wish that you would write a book on remodeling in France. I’m a huge fan of “life in Paris” books. Yours would be the best yet. Congratulations on (almost) finishing your new kitchen.

  • v.j.
    October 7, 2012 6:31pm

    Finally, you shared the photos of your kitchen! I almost gave up on ever seeing it finished. I love it and I envy you. What I don’t see in your photos is a marble countertop area. As a predominantly candy and pastry maker I was sure you would install that. Are they over-rated in your opinion? Always a fan, have your books.

  • October 7, 2012 6:56pm

    Some of the best meals I have ever eaten were vegetarian lunches prepared in a home in Chennai, India. The cook arrived every morning via the market with fresh produce, much of which was totally unfamiliar to me. The kitchen had a two plate gas burner on a large table and a sink with running water. That’s it.

    So my kitchen in rural France is also very simple, though I do have a fridge. I have a cousin in Atlanta who seems to regularly spend 50,000 to remodel her kitchen yet NEVER cooks. The family lives on takeaways. So it’s good to see a cluttered working functional kitchen like yours.

    • October 7, 2012 7:03pm
      David Lebovitz

      A friend who lives in France went to cook in the states, teaching in people’s home kitchen, and came back telling me that all these people had bottles of olive oil on the shelves with vegetables and herbs in them, purely for decoration (!) To me, every bit of space has some sort of use, but everyone has a different relationship with their kitchen and that’s a-ok. I do find those wine refrigerators kind of odd. For one thing, they’re usually filled with young white wines, which don’t really need to be stored in a temperature-controlled environment. But if they are older wines, wine experts say that the compressor vibration is really bad for storing and aging wines. Although I guess if you drink a lot of everyday white wine, having a separate place to keep it all chilled is probably helpful.

  • October 7, 2012 7:27pm

    Ta cuisine est splendide!
    I love how utalitarian and packed with stuff it is.