HELP! Home chefs, kitchen connoisseurs, gourmands: today’s post is a desperate plea for your advice. You see, I’m currently running off the momentum of my recent living room reveal – an object in motion stays in motion, as they say – and I’ve managed to grab some time with the dream team (alternatively known by their real names, Emily Bowser and Sara Tramp) for a kitchen shoot on May 30th, but y’all…I’M NOT ACTUALLY DONE YET.
Okay. Maybe that’s a little alarmist – it’s 90% of the way there, and I have 25 days to make a minor decorating decision. I’ll live! And while the kitchen has made leaps and bounds since I first moved in – I’ll catch you up on some of the design progress below – there’s still a ludicrously capacious space above the stove that is in dire need of some ~pizzazz~. I want to make this spot functional, but if I’m being honest…I’m not great at cooking (yet, she wrote, brimming with cautious optimism), and I don’t really have the skill set to know what constitutes being functional.
To that end, I’ve researched a ton of vintage kitchens and have consistently come across the same 5 decorating formulas for that awkward space above the stove. They’re all beautiful options that would look awesome in my home, but I do need help deciding which is the most livable (i.e. I don’t want something that looks good in photos but is a nightmare to maintain). So if you enjoy cooking at home (or if you have strong feelings about shelving, sconces, pot racks, and the like), please read on – I’d really appreciate your opinion here! But first…
Where We Started
HI, WELCOME TO THE WORLD’S LARGEST GALLEY KITCHEN. (Joking, but also not joking.) She’s about 15′ long, 8′ across, and somehow contains more cabinets and drawers than any one person should be allowed to have. You know how Carrie Bradshaw had to store sweaters in her stove? I could store Carrie Bradshaw’s entire apartment in my kitchen cabinets with room left over. THERE IS SO MUCH STORAGE.
The floors (linoleum, difficult to clean, impossibly noisy), appliances (old, but it’s a rental, so c’est la vie), and 90-year-old tile countertops (I mean, enough said) all leave something to be desired…but honestly, I’m just nitpicking. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that I feel most comfortable when I’m designing around some immovable elements – they feel like built-in bumpers that keep me on track. I do not do well with a blank slate, so I’m grateful to have some parameters to work around. 🙂
The In-Progress Transformation
She’s been a work in progress for a long time, folks! Here’s what’s been done so far:
- Wallpaper: It’s ‘Orange Blossom’ by Cole & Son and IT’S SO CHEERY. Hanging this wallpaper took the kitchen from “old and tired” to “vintage and charming.”
- Glass Knobs: I wanted to honor the 90-year-old original cabinets with something a little more period appropriate – these were splurge-y (part of why this reveal has taken so long, ha!), but they’re also timeless and so, so, SO pretty. I’ll be using these for the rest of my life, I think.
- Window Treatments: Conversely, I didn’t splurge on these – grabbed two of my favorite cheap $40 wooden roman shades in ‘Deer’ (a blonder, subtler wood color than the ‘Squirrel’ I used in my living room).
- Modern Lighting: I LOVE a modern/vintage mashup, especially when it improves the functionality of a space! I fell in love with the shape of this fixture (inspired by leaves and petals, which feels fitting with the blossom motif), but I also love that it’s convertible – I’m using it as a semi-flush in my kitchen, but I could use it as a chandelier in a future home! (More brands should make lighting like this! It’s genius for renters, IMO.)
- A New Runner: SO CUTE. It’s jute! It’s scalloped! It’s a 10′ runner that only cost $130! FYI, this Etsy is a treasure trove for super sweet, super affordable rugs – comparable pieces on Chairish and Mainly Baskets go for 3-5x the price. Check here first!
- Updated Switchplates: I’ll be covering the switch and outlet covers with wallpaper so they blend into the wall. (How many tears will be shed as I attempt to achieve the perfect wallpaper lineup? You’ll find out when we share the reveal in mid-June!)
Enter: My Problem Area
GET A LOAD OF THAT OPEN SPACE. If you’re also struggling with the design around a free-standing oven in an old home, I SEE YOU. There’s no backsplash, no hood, NO NOTHING in this corner – just a big expanse of wall in need of something. I love the way my wallpaper brightened up this corner (standing here staring at a blank wall felt like a punishment previously, TBH) but it’s definitely pretty graphic and in dire need of some visual balance.
This is where I turn to you, my wisened kitchen pals, to ask a simple question: which of the following five decor layouts would you opt for in your own kitchen? I’m not a great home chef yet, but I’d love to choose a setup for this area that’d be enjoyable to use once I get better at cooking! Options are coming in hot below…please advise. (But like, in a genuine way, and not in a passive-aggressive email way.)
Option 1: Two Shelves
I have to admit that I do love how simple and clean this layout is. It’s classic for a reason, you know? A pretty light oak shelf like this one would bring a little warmth to the sea of white while speaking to the lighter tones in the wallpaper. There’s also a lot of flexibility with this type of open shelving – I could store spices, dishes, cooking utensils, a tiny lamp, etc. up there! – but on the other hand…do I really need more storage in this room? If you have an open shelf above your stove, has it been a positive experience for you?
Option 2: Classic Pot Rack Or Peg Rail
Two more super classic configurations: the pot rack and the peg rail. I do worry that a pot rack may be a little too visually busy with the wallpaper – there’d be a lot of small bits in one area! – but I love how practical it is, and I do also think that seeing my cookware encourages me to use it more. I think I’d be eyeing a brass rail like this, but I’m open to recommendations if anyone has a more affordable option that they love!
I also like the peg rail as a sweet, period-appropriate alternative to the pot rack. If I went that route, I’d do something in a light wood – a piece that speaks to the blond window treatments and jute runner – and while I think it’d be AWESOME aesthetically (case in point: this Reath Design kitchen), I worry that it’d be less functional long-term than a rack in this particular space.
Option 3: Joint Shelving And Pot Rack
As Hannah Montana once said: you get the best of both worlds! I loved how Sara mounted a brass rail to her floating shelf in her kitchen reveal, and I think it’d be nice to do something similar here. The same concerns still stand from before, though – will it get too busy? Is it hard to clean? Is it possible to have too much storage in a kitchen? (No, right?) GOOD COOKS, PLEASE HELP. I’M OVERTHINKING!
Option 4: Mirror/Art + Sconce
I do have an outlet right above my stove (in case you haven’t noticed, ha) and it would be a great candidate for a plug-in sconce. It’d be helpful to have more light while cooking, right? (Seriously, I’m asking!!!) A mirror might be a nice option here too – I loved the old federal mirror Jess hung near the stove in her old kitchen, and I don’t necessarily need more shelving…thoughts?
Option 5: Ceiling Rack + Decor
OH BABY, SAVED THE WILDEST FOR LAST! I spotted this exact layout on oldhouseonline.com (can you tell I’m a kid who grew up watching Antiques Roadshow with my mom???) and it’s AWESOME in person – click through and check out the photo! I know there’s a lot going on in the graphic, but the idea is pretty simple: pop a ceiling-mounted pot rack up top, and give myself some space to play and experiment with the styling down below. I know this would look beautiful and interesting, but am I setting myself up for a cleaning nightmare long-term?
This is where I’ll open up the floor for discussion, and I’ll happily welcome any and all constructive feedback. Which option would you choose? (And if the answer is “girl, none of them,” I’d love to hear your suggestions!) Will hanging something above the stove make my life a nightmare? (Insert footage here of my sweet boyfriend Dennis, calmly explaining the physics of melting butter and grease to me in an attempt to dissuade me from placing precious art above the stove.) Are some materials, textures, or colors better or easier to maintain than others when it comes to cleaning off kitchen grease? I can’t be the only one who’s struggling here – let’s all help each other out, yeah? HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND – I’ll be looking for your tips in the comments. xx