March 14, 2016

Mountain House Kitchen Before and After

I can’t believe it but it’s already been almost six months since my book, Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating was released!  Time has really flown.


{the oak leaf hydrangea growing EVERYWHERE around my cousin’s mountain house}

I wanted to share a little snippet from the “Kitchen” section where I shared a bunch of kitchens on full spreads and discussed what we did and why we did

Almost two years ago, I introduced the “Mountain House” project on the blog and as spring starts springing around here I’m reminded of two springs ago when I first saw my cousin’s mountain house:


It was April of 2014 and when I saw it, I was totally in love.  The most beautiful stone walls surround the property and the same stone is used throughout
the house, on the exterior and fireplaces…

{Photo taken by Helen Norman for the book}

It’s such a lush, beautiful place and wildflowers and fruits and berries literally cover the mountainside.  My cousins, who live in Florida, love
to go to the house to experience the seasons and unplug from life.

We installed the house the week of  July 4th, 2014 and it was absolute madness.  We had the whole thing filmed but the videographer never gave
us most of the footage, which is so sad.  We pretty much have “confessionals” and a bit of moving in footage, but we don’t have the big “reveal”
where my family walked in and got to see it for the first time.

We shot the house in September of 2014 with photographer Helen Norman and F.J. Hughes for the book.  I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and
was feeling kind of terrible & was really exhausted but Dave & I and the kids stayed there for a week, so I could just sort of get way from
life and work and write a big chunk of the book.  It’s so remote that there weren’t any distractions and I was able to make a ton of progress
on the manuscript.

Anyway, now two years later, I’n so excited to be finally sharing the kitchen with you!!!  Here’s what the kitchen looked like “before.”  (Or
really, once the baseboards and fridge had been removed)–

{The door on the left leads to the foyer and the one on the right leads to the dining room.  We left both doorways but removed the doors for a more
open feel.}



{This is the view towards the two-sided fireplace and the family room on the other side of the kitchen.  The island awkwardly housed a range that
stuck up above the counter.}


{This is the main view of the kitchen from the fireplace/ family room side.  The refrigerator had been removed from the right of the sink/dishwasher.}

I wanted the house, and especially the kitchen, to feel warm and rustic and hard-working.  The land demanded simplicity and anything frivolous or
“decorative” in nature would have felt out of place.  There’s a strength to the land and the architecture of the house that I wanted to respect.
Simple materials with clean lines – oiled woods, pure copper, cast iron, steel, antique pottery- colors that came straight from the landscape, and
a light hand with fabrics make up the interiors of the place.

Here’s the finished kitchen:

{The kitchen feels so earthy and so cozy to work in.  It made me realize how much I love lower ceilings and beams in a kitchen, which was why I added
beams in my own 8 foot kitchen in our new place.  There’s something so primitive and comforting about it to me.  I love seeing this kitchen
packed with kids and family, cooking eating and laughing at the butcher-block island and talking over one another (we’re Italian, if you’re not talking
louder than someone else, you’re not even talking. 😉 }

Floors are in hickory with “Antik” WOCA color oil.

{a blurry iphone pic of my aunt’s minestroni prep}

I get into this in more detail in the book, but generally, when I’m starting a new kitchen design, I attempt to create focal points out of the sink and
the range whenever possible. I like to pull the refrigerator to its own space or to the side of an elevation so that the space feels more open, which
is what I did here. By moving the fridge from the center-right of the wall to the far left, we were really able to get more counterspace and we replaced
the small window above the sink with a large picture window, which looks out over the mountains:


Like a lot of my kitchens, there are no upper cabinets in here.  A long shelf above the kitchen window holds mixing bowls and pottery, serving platters
hang on the wall, and glasses and dishes are stowed in drawers in the island.

I moved the range to the wall between the foyer doorway and the dining room and had a simple iron pot rack made to hang above it:



{The cabinets were painted and glazed in a custom putty color.  I did an especially high backsplash because I didn’t want to mix in any tile which
I felt would have diluted things a bit.  Like I mentioned, I wanted it to feel as simple and strong as possible.  My aunt is also an amazingly
messy cook  (It’s why everything tastes so good, I think 😉  so going with a painted drywall backsplash like I did at my old place would
have freaked her out. (FYI for anyone who is freaked out about that or sees it as ridiculously impractical… it’s really not at all.  You just
use a washable paint and oil and sauces wipe right off.  Every now and then something would get left on for a long while and we touched it up
when we touched up the paint in the hallways- gotta love kid fingerprints- probably about a year and a half into living there.}


An area we didn’t get a professional shot of but is truly functional is the little pantry we added to the fireplace side of the room:

{I liked this so much I also did one of these in our new house.}


I love the doublesided fireplace between the kitchen and the family room and we left it alone, only changing everything around it to call more attention
to it.  Here is it before:


And here it is now:

{You can see in this photo how much taking down the paneling and repainting brightened up the house.  Now the fireplace is truly the focal point.}


We drag in extra chairs from the family room when the kitchen gets full.

We love going on walks for flowers and putting them on the mantle in simple jars or pottery.

{I fell in love with unbloomed hydrangeas here}


We found all of the flowers used in the house for the photoshoot growing wild on the mountainside.  Here’s a shot of our flower prep taken by Helen
the day of the photoshoot:



{All of my favorites!!!!  Wild Chicory, Queen Anne’s Lace, Ferns!!!!  Heaven. }





It’s pretty incredible just how massive some of them are.  I especially loved the Joe-Pye weed used in the overall kitchen shot:


As you probably know by now, I post on Instagram pretty much all the time, and recently, I began tagging photos taken of home that really show how we actually
live and enjoy being home- things like our messy kitchen table, a meal made in the kitchen, my family playing games together- and tagged them with
#loveyourhabitat.  I thought it could be really fun for us to tag photos that show our homes in use and being enjoyed, loved and messed
up in a good way.  A fresh bouquet of flowers on the coffee table, a just-cleaned kitchen (not gonna lie- I always get excited when my kitchen’s
clean- a rarity, it feels 😉 or a totally messy mid-meal one… things like just-fluffed pillows, just-made or never-made beds or Friday night happy
hours and backyard parties….  A living room decorated for a holiday, a table setting we’re excited about or an “after” shot of a decimated meal…
the rug you found that completes the room, the finally finished nursery (I’m trying on Gisele’s!!), your newly planted garden, a homemade meal
you slaved over or the take-out you ordered and can’t wait to house…  It’s about finding the beauty in both the perfection AND in the messy
reality.  Photos that celebrate that sometimes our houses are spotless (like, maybe pretty much the five minutes before guests come over
for us??)  and sometimes they’re trashed, but that’s okay because we’re using them and loving them and that’s life.  I’m trying to work on
this myself, but I think we can be proud of our places even when they’re covered in leggos or there are dishes out because they’re being used the way
they should be used.

I think it could be really fun to get peeks into each other’s homes and how we truly love & live in them, and to find more people to follow.  Anyway,
I’m inviting you to play along. If you’re up for it, just tag your photos with #loveyourhabitat

I’m off for the day but hope you enjoyed this peek into the mountain house!  It’s a house I’ve gotten the chance to really enjoy first-hand and I
love seeing it lived in and loved the way I envisioned it would be.  The entire thing is featured in  the book, along with other full kitchens reveals, so if you liked this and don’t have the book on your wishlist, yet, put it on
there!!  (HINT! HINT 😉

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