Last weekend, Jon and I hosted our first party in over six months. We started gutting the kitchen the last weekend in January and have been working consistently ever since. And what a change it has made! The layout is much more open now and great for entertaining. The counters are a beautiful white quartz which is really a joy to cook on - no worries about staining or scratching, and so easy to clean up. Plus, like nice white plates, they make everything you put on them look so much better.
To be honest, the kitchen has been more or less done for some time. We've been cooking in there for a few months now. But the finishing touches - the penny round backsplash with deep blue grout, the trim work around the cabinets, and (to my great frustration) the cabinet hardware were left til the very last minute. And Jon and I both scrambled to get everything put together before our great unveiling at our Fourth of July party.
I'm happy to say, both the kitchen, and the party were a great success, and we look forward to many more meals in our beautiful new space.
The back wall of the kitchen which originally held both the range and the fridge is now more open with ample work space (ok, ok, it's still a small urban kitchen . . . ) on either side of the range. Recessed spot lights in the ceiling and dimmable under-cabinet puck lights (Jon routed out the cabinetry trim work so that these would be flush and the wiring hidden from view) provide great working and ambient light.
We left more open area around the window - the upper cabinets used to butt up right next to it - and painted the trim a pale grey which really helps to open up the space and and make the window feel more expansive. And with the white upper cabinet doors and white counters, the natural light we do get is bounced around and makes the whole space feel bright and sunny.
We decided to open up the layout and nix the large peninsula that once separated the kitchen and dining room. Which led to some compromises, and a happy result- the pantry wall that stores a great deal of food and equipment rather stylishly, and serves as a bar and buffet area while entertaining (during the week we use it as a breakfast nook housing our coffee grinder, toaster, and bowls of fresh fruit).
And the completion of the kitchen also led to a few furniture updates in the rest of the space - our new dining set picks up on the shiny white cabinetry and modern feel of the kitchen. And we hope to decide on an area rug and curtains soon to soften up the space. But for now, we're really enjoying our revamped condo.
As for the party, we served All American food - chips and dips, delicious stuffed jalapenos, baked beans (which I nearly forgot to serve), classic potato salad with lots of fresh herbs and pickles, cucumber, radish, and red onion salad, burgers and dogs, and for dessert homemade (star-shaped) strawberry shortcakes and made-from-scratch S'mores, which were amazing!
The S'mores recipes for homemade graham crackers and marshmallows came from Smitten Kitchen, with just a few changes. I happened to see Ina Garten making s'mores from chocolate covered digestive biscuits and thought that was a wonderful idea - no more messing around with thick chunks of Hershey's not well portioned for the graham cracker sizes. But, I also wanted that classic graham cracker taste so I made the dough and cut 2" rounds for the crackers and coated them, top and bottom, in melted milk chocolate (Hershey's Reserve - staying true to my Pennsylvania roots). I cut the marshmallows in 1 1/4" rounds that melted into a gooey mess perfectly sandwiched in each set of crackers.