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

  • 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!

  • 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…

    • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

    • 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.

  • 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

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

  • Pure gorgeousness. Worth all your travails.

    Amuses-toi bien dans ta nouvelle cuisine!

  • It looks beautiful, David! Well done!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Beautiful Kitchen!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Beautiful kitchen. Thanks for posting it.

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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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!!!!

  • 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.

  • 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)

  • 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!!

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

  • 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!

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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?!

  • 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 ;-)

    • 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.)

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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

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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    • 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.)

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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….

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

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

  • fantastique! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. And the wisdom passed one…fun! “The best advice I could pass on was given to me by a French friend – “Be more French, less American” ” ;-)

  • Oh David, that is fantastic, marvelous. I hope it was worth it to you; I think so!!

  • David,

    I love, love your new kitchen. You took a small space and made it workable. It is simple which makes it very warm and cozy looking. Happy cooking in your new work space.

  • Och it’s gorgeous, chatty and eaty. It was a Belfast sink you wanted ! (Belfast, you know, where they built the Titanic – it was OK when it left us ! ) I live in Belfast, next time you’re looking for a great big white sink, give me a call :)

  • Bialetti coffeemaker. My favourite.
    Your kitchen looks really great!

  • Hi David,

    Congratulations on your gorgeous new kitchen…beautiful and functional!

    As an American married to a wonderful Frenchman (Normandy…butter,cream and apples…Susan H.Loomis/rue Tatin in Louviers) I had the wonderful opportunity of living in Paris for over two years. What an experience! Your posts make me laugh, make me hungry, and motivate me to be a better cook. Your photography is gorgeous and I love your books. I actually wish you would write a book about the remodel experience…I’m sure you’d have us laughing for days.

    I just updated my Paris pastry app in prep for our France visit in May. My daughter and I will be visiting her grandmere/my belle mere in Le Vaudreuil (about 20 minutes from Susan) but we have to spend at least a week in Paris just to get our “fix.” I can’t wait to use your blog as a resource. I just shared it with friends who will be going to Paris for the first time in September.

    Although we have been traveling back and forth to France for over twenty years now, it never seems that far away thanks to you!

    ~Janice

  • You can readily rubberize the bottoms of stainless bowls with liquid multi-purpose rubber coatings available at home-supply and hardware stores. I use Performix Plasti-Dip and it works very well. Simply scuff the bottom of the bowl, thoroughly degrease and clean, then paint on enough layers to suit yourself, et voila! Resulting bowls feel heavy, grounded, and expensive…(:-D)

  • Isn’t it great when all the hard work designing, shopping and contracting work comes together? You clearly put a lot of thought into it around what you need and want. Great working kitchen – I like how you can cut and chop anywhere on the wooden surfaces (at least it looks like wood) so no need to shlep cutting boards out every two minutes.

    Am reading thru your newest book and enjoying. Soon I will get busy actually baking!

    I’m visiting Paris in late Nov so if you would like foil or whatever from here, just let me know.

  • It’s beautiful, David! Heartfelt congratulations.

  • I love your kitchen design! I am moving in my new house in France this first of November. A lot of renovating and hardwork will be happening! Wish me luck!

  • Oh my…that is a wonderful kitchen. Love the work area. That is just perfect. I have kitchen envy. :o)
    Well done and thank you for sharing it all.

  • Happy Cooking! I like your new kitchen.

  • Dear David,
    I know how much headache you had with your moving and renovation, but believe me, reading your post and looking at your pictures I can totally see a happy ending for your book :D

  • Really beautiful kitchen- love the countertops and sink especially. Thank you for sharing with us!!

  • Wow, oh wow. I just reattached a cabinet door for the third time in a year. I am so envious. Congratulations!

  • David-

    I think you’re swell and I like readin’ ya… the end.

    Love,

    Ginger

  • Wow — fantastic kitchen! Wonderful space for everything, which is really a luxury. Can’t tell if you have an overhead pot rack — it looks like your ceiling is tall enough to have one if you like. I don’t have any space for one in my kitchen, but would love to have it — it’s tiring to have to constantly drag pots and pans out of cupboards or the inside of the stove where they are hiding like I have to do now. Thanks for sharing–tremendous amount of work, but a fabulous result.

  • Thanks so much for sharing the finished kitchen. It’s lovely and looks like a place a baker could get a lot done. I’m a fan of white kitchens and yours appears to be making your kitchen light and spacious. Is your wooden counter top from Ikea as well? I’m planning for a new sink and countertop and am undecided about the butcher block counters from Ikea. Yours look wonderful. I’m looking into Osmo oil.

  • Bravo on the remodel — it’s a stunner :)

  • Congratulations on your inspiring kitchen!

    Being a complete spatula geek myself, I wondered if you ever tried the elevate spatulas (http://www.josephjoseph.com/kitchen-tools/elevate-spatulas)? They’re my absolute favourites. I love that they’re completely smooth – easy to wipe on the edge of a bowl and easy to clean – and that I can leave them on the tabletop without creating a mess. Also, they’re sturdy enough for large quantities and viscous material like caramel.

    I spent years in search of the ultimate spatula, but I’m pretty sure now that my mission is accomplished.

  • best kitchen ever

  • David, I’m an architect who cooks non-stop and puts up about 600 jars a year of jams, jellies, pickles, tomato sauces, vegetables and eau-de-vie. Also prepares olives and olive oil from our land. all from a tiny 2m x 3m kitchen!

    I also design kitchens for others.

    I totally agree with your choices, bravo.

    I work with a huge marble sink, 2 ovens, a big fridge, marble counters (they are cheap and traditional here). I have 3 wall-mounted poles to hang pots & pans, graters and smaller items (spatulas, whisks etc).

    Trays, oven trays, serving plates are kept on an old fashioned plate rack on the wall.

    Knives wall-mounted on a long magnet.

    A small tray with olive oil, fine & rough salt, pepper mill sits next to the hob.

    Food supplies are stored in the kitchen, plates cups etc are OUTSIDE the kitchen but nearby.

    The 2 worktops are always clear, except for an old Kitchen Aid mixer, the kettle and a toaster.

    Have recently switched to a good induction hob – am in love with it. Have a single portable gas hob for greek coffee and cooking with terracotta pots.

    Thank you for the tip on the kitchen mats!!!

  • Ok, I’m willing to do dishes if I can come over for tea and pie! What a stunning kitchen – amazing work! Also, great tip on the kitchen mats. My feet and back are forever fatigued from all the cookies I’ve made – a mat would’ve surely helped!

  • Congratulations, your kitchen looks fantastic! But I kept hyperventilating reading through the post, til I was breathless at the end. I kept wondering why it looks like you are cooking for at least ten people everyday. I feed a household of eight, and your “collections” for a household of one justifies the amount of utensils in my kitchen! ;-)

  • I’m just about to confirm the order for my new kitchen, and I have pretty much gone for the same colourings – white cupboards, wood bench top and stainless steel. I wanted to go further and get an amazing sink, handles etc, but as a future rental I have to leave my dream kitchen for another time. Thanks for sharing your kitchen experiences, it’s been nice to read what you’ve been through :)

  • Love it, David! Congrats on finally finishing!

  • I absolutely love your blog. Thank you for painting a picture of your experiences in Paris. It is wonderful to read of your adventures. You are also a baking genius. I think you are my chocolate soul-mate.

  • What a great working kitchen and tips on efficiency. When you said “let’s just say that if I ever take on this kind of project again, I’ll do things a little lot differently” it rang so true to me from my own kitchen remodel. There are things you have done that I can still incorporate, and I definitely will. Thanks for sharing.

  • I LOVE the way you’ve designed this. It looks like a kitchen I could walk right into and be able to cook anything. THANK YOU for sharing – and I love that you didn’t bother with any frou-frou nonsense. :) Also thank you for storing your pans one-deep. I HATE reaching over things too!!!

    What a happy kitchen. It seems well worth the effort from over here in Texas!

  • I love the island workspace in the middle of the kitchen. Have always wanted one. Am glad you insisted on that.

    I have a good amount of counter space, but still need more room for the recipes and notebook that I use when I am baking or cooking.

    Hope you enjoy the new space! It’s nice to spread out one’s work uncluttered.

  • The size of your kitchen is the size of my sister’s apartment in Paris! LOL Thank you for all the tips. I will refer back to your articles when I’d need something done in Paris. (fingers crossed I end up there one day LOL) :) Btw, the kitchen is a dream! Job well done! Cocktail(s) deserved! :)

  • You seemed to have left out a couple of important elements to the remodel. Did you have to negotiate anything with a partner and what was the bottom line cost of this little slice of heaven? Of course, as an American Ex-Pat, you are allowed to take the fifth on this.

  • Congratulations on your new cuisine! It looks like a great space to work your magic. Many happy recipes!

  • Love your great working space, especially love the sink – that sprayer!!! I would die for one of those. I am stuck in a townhome condo with a tiny oven and minute sink – more like a mini-bar sink – I mean what the h???!, doesn’t anyone cook anymore? Anyhow, thanks for the update, love it!

  • that is one good lookin’ kitchen! we remodeled our kitchen in san francisco, and it was not easy either. though i can’t imagine doing in it french.

  • Always nice to see a kitchen that is being put to use, regardless of it being where you earn your living or not.
    I love the big counter-top in the middle. And the multitude of kitchen tools make it all feel reassuringly real.

  • I love how this turned out- what a project! A remodel is tricky anywhere but I can’t imagine doing one in Europe. My Aunt lives in Greece and said “I haven’t check my email in two months, I’m sure work needs things, but even if I wait a few more weeks, they won’t really be late.” Funny how different we can be. I love the American touches with the ice maker and other things you know you’ll love and use even if they aren’t traditionally Parisian. The huge collection of spoons and spatulas is awesome- every time I buy one of the Le Creuset super spatulas from Amazon for way too much I laugh at myself but it doesn’t stop me since they really are the best. Glad someone else agrees!

  • Congratulations. It sounds like that was a project involving many complications that you never foresaw. May you enjoy that kitchen in good health for as long as you wish. (I seem to recall an earlier post in which you lamented a signal red oven display but I don’t see that in the current photos–perhaps you got rid of it?) It must be extra frustrating to go through a renovation knowing that places like Home Depot exist…just not in proximity to where you need them to be.

    Good luck with the unventilated French clothes dryer or, as I learned to think of them, the ‘spinning clothes oven.’

  • Congrats on surviving the remodel and on actually coming up with a very lovely kitchen. It looks great, and I hope it is a joy to work in.

  • Lovely job on the kitchen! It is the largest I have ever seen in France. Did you do away with the living room?

  • I love how many spatulas you have. Wow! I thought I had a bunch, but I only have about 6 or so :)

  • I use the same Italian espresso maker. Love it!

  • David-
    thanks for the much awaited post and pictures of the epic kitchen remodel… no we’re just curious what ever happened to ‘le toilet’ that was in the middle of the kitchen during the processes! :-)

    oh, I like the stainless steel bowls too, but have found that a rubber/silicone hot-pad placed underneath the bowl on the counter, works just as well (and is multipurpose) as those expensive bowls with rubber bottoms.

    what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger? well I’m certainly glad that this project didn’t kill you!

  • David, many years ago I took a cooking class from you at Sur Le Table in Los Gatos; flour less chocolate cake w/tangerine sorbet. I still use the recipe. Fast forward. Good to see pics of the kitchen, as I followed along with the remodeling. Two things you’ve lead me to recently; the Moka pot which is now my go-to above espresso machine, French press, and now Rancho Gordon beans. Thank you. Today I’m going to make your mole sauce for the first time. Charlotte

  • Here are a few tips based upon what I could see in your photos & remodelling my own kitchens every time I moved.
    The space above the fridge is a great big potential space IF it is structured properly. Visualize that space as a box, with access from the front. Now imagine that box with a lower space & upper space. If you were to have vertical boards dividing the lower space into sections – say 4 – you can store all your baking sheets, flat pans, trays, & the like and take them out easily from the access in the front just above your fridge height – no step stool, no rummaging. The pans stay neatly b/c the vertical sections keep them from falling sideways.
    I not only store my baking sheets & flat or shallow pans there, but also lids, & 1 section is reserved for the boxes of aluminum foil, baking parchment, plastic wrap.
    Now for the upper section. A horizontal board divides the box high enough to be above the sheets & other items. The big space still available is for your various big pots, roasters, etc. This is accessible probably only with a step stool.
    This organization of the above-fridge space uses it maximally than what is depicted in your photos & I would really urge you to consider it since the kitchen needs all the organized storage possible.
    I can send you a photo of my above-fridge space to show you what I mean if you like, but tell me where to send it so you will receive the photo.

    These are things that I was only able to do in 1 kitchen and it is probably too late to do it in yours. But here they are – if the depth of your counter is more or less the standard 24 inches[60 cm] AND you need to have many items on that counter, you have the photos of your kitchen with a great many things reducing the working counter space. BUT if you design the depth of the counter to be 30 inches, then you have the same amount of stuff our but you still have usable counter space in front of the stuff! If you can afford to have the drawers under that counter be the full depth, you have storage space for much much more in the drawers, something like 30% more in each drawer.

    2nd idea – if you have elevated the counter height, as you describe, and your under -counter cabinets are the standard height, you have a nice space below the cabinet for a shallow drawer which can hold flat items like possibly lids, trays, placemats, towels, a cat dish.

    After a lot of research, I found that the cheapest most efficient & flexible, versatile lights were track lights, with the fixtures taking fluorescents. NEVER use halogens in the kitchen despite what many kitchen designers like b/c halogens are the most heat producing & the kitchen produces too much heat already, especially in the summer. Fluorescents can be “warm” & are low heat producing. Track systems are better than fixed light fixtures b/c you do not need to pay an electrician PER FIXTURE but only for the single ceiling connection. Then wherever you want light, you add the fixture to the track. And of course, once the electrician has departed & you realize that ,oh no, you need light in another spot, you just attach another light yourself. But I dislike the thin wires that constitute the Euro tracks, I prefer the US style which hugs the ceiling & is a rigid track b/c they accept fluorescents whereas the Euro tracks I have seen appear to be only for halogens. The US light fixtures BTW all will work with 220/230v. So US tracks will work in Paris. Under-cabinet lights nowadays are preferably light producing diodes.

  • Sorry, there is more. The light fixtures I was describing were standard bulb sockets that accepted screw in fluorescent light bulbs. Besides the low heat of fluorescents, they draw little electricity so you can put quite a few onto the track without causing an overload. But I haven’t found the euro wire tracks that versatile. Maybe in Paris they are…

    A more resilient & easy-care & interesting floor is the old style linoleum. It is antibacterial and for a small kitchen can be seamless. This product is natural & the color goes all the way thru. It is a somewhat softer floor so also a little more forgiving to breakables.

    The drawer pulls I use I wanted to be seamless and smooth so that they would not accumulate hard to remove grime in tiny crevices. If they are big enough, they can be used to hang towels or cloths upon.

  • So happy to finally hear the story of your kitchen! And thanks for reminding me that I wanted to buy a silicone whisk. :)

  • Here is a picture like what I did above my fridge:
    http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2409551/list
    It is the 2nd photo as you scroll down
    This is their more succinct description:

    If storage is a priority in your kitchen, install a cabinet above the fridge. Make it as deep as the fridge and take it all the way to the ceiling.

    And the front of this cabinet is flush with the front of your fridge. Or leave off the door of this cabinet for visible storage.

  • I have a 36″ Viking gas oven that takes a very long time to preheat like your large oven does.It does not maintain a constant temp. for good baking results.
    What brand of convection, microwave did you buy? I need one.
    Cynthia

  • Your kitchen looks fabulous, worth all the drama. Where did you buy the salt box in the fifth picture? I’ve been looking around for one on Amazon and Ebay and either they’re modern bamboo looking not like a box or antique and too expensive. Any ideas? Thanks.

    • I found it at a flea market in the south of France a few years back. I don’t know if it’s a salt box or not, but I use it as that. It’s a little hard to get my hand into, and often when I pull my hand out, it knocks the lid down. So if you’re looking for one, make sure it’s something easy to get in and out with … with just one hand!