July 1st. That’s when our manuscript is due. When we started thinking about the feel of the book and how we wanted the recipes to come to life, we realized that we’d need to shoot at home, not some beautiful bright modern studio. We’re making a cookbook that tells people “you can cook this at home” and “anyone can cook” and “this is real life.” While vintage props and incredible stylists can make a jaw-droopingly gorgeous cookbook, we’re in the business of getting more people cooking, more often. So something very attainable was important.
We’ve been shooting in Anca’s NYC rental apartment. It’s not fancy (1970’s popcorn ceilings) but it’s home. And it’s always open for dinner. Friends drop by last minute after work and we plan some epic game nights on the weekends. Previously we had dishes and glassware in cabinets or in that small credenza. If you want to involve your guests in setting the table, mixing drinks, and lighting candles, it’s a lot easier to have it in the dining room instead of the kitchen. Especially if you have a narrow kitchen like us!
We started dreaming of some colored shelves—that could transform the room and provide storage for tableware and other things that should be displayed. And since we’re really trying to adult well, we’re trying to ween off of Ikea furniture. Something that’s crafted in the U.S., could survive any move, and dare we say—be passed on to our kids?!
Enter Room & Board. We’ve been happy customers in the past and when we reached out to them about our project, they generously gifted us the 2 things that would make the most impact in transforming the room. We browsed the site and fell in love with the slim bookcases. It was a tough choice to choose a color because grass green! millennial pink! cobalt blue! But the yellow option finally sealed the deal.
The dining table is a one-of-a-kind industrial table that used to be a Anca’s father-in-law’s work table. The current chairs were black and made everything look a bit dull. We needed some warmth and Room & Board carries an incredible selection of dining chairs but we finally settled on these classic Thatcher chairs. They’re even more gorgeous in person.
Another important change is lighting. We got a gorgeous brass pendant from Schoolhouse Electric and continued the yellow theme in the kitchen with a vintage-looking clock to cheer up the popcorn ceiling and drab countertops and wall. Somehow, checking the time on a wall clock makes us more aware of the hours.
Just a few simple tweaks and there’s a completely different vibe. The kitchen and dining room not only look brighter but the shelves have become a conversation piece in the house. People linger to see what plates, books, and other finds are on display. It’s fun to ask them to set the table using whatever they see on the shelves. Get creative!
Now let’s talk kitchen.
We removed the cabinet doors on a whim and never put them back. It make the kitchen feel bigger and making shopping lists is a breeze now that we can quickly scan the shelves to see what we’re missing.
An organized pantry is the best way to ensure you’re cooking more often with less trips to the store for that must-have ingredient for dinner. And jars. Lots of jars. You don’t even need to spend anything either. Just save any jars you’ve used, give them a good wash, and remove any labels. That’s it. I mean look how cute that little jar with the yellow cap is?! Barley never looked so good.
All of these photos by our dream cookbook photographer Mandalyn Rael Photography.