'In Design' on Serious Eats

In Design: A Kitchen Renovation V

The hall floor, before and after renovation. Physical work on our new kitchen began about two and a half weeks ago and has been moving along. Our new tile floor is down and looking lovely, demolition is done, our stove hood ductwork is in place, most of the plumbing is completed, and electrical work is in progress. Leveling the Ceiling and Floor There have, however, been a few minor snags. These have mainly resulted from the fact that none of the surfaces in our kitchen or its adjoining hallway are level, square or even smooth. When measured from a level line struck around the perimeter of the room, the height of our ceiling varied by about two inches—a significant... More

In Design: A Kitchen Renovation IV

Permits nearly in hand, contractors lined up, cabinets on schedule, appliances ordered—we are finally about a week or two away from beginning the actual construction on our new kitchen. With that in mind, this past weekend was a whirlwind of last-minute decision making and ordering and the realization of a potential snafu: tile. The Tile Design Though we had selected cabinetry and appliances with decidedly clean, modern designs, much of our initial design inspiration had come from the aesthetics of old apothecary shops and the pre-war details of our building. Thus, we had decided early on that we wanted to use small hexagonal tiles Though the majority of the floor was to be tiled in one color, we were... More

In Design: Melamine: A Relic of Yesterday (with a Caveat for Today)

Several months ago, I spotted a slick goldenrod yellow melamine dish set at the local Salvation Army. Inspecting the pieces, I recalled childhood experiences: eating brown sugar and butter sandwiches from the plates and drinking cold whole milk from the teacups of a similar set that belonged to my mother—cool, shiny and the color of homemade chocolate pudding. Priced at under $5 and including a gracefully beautiful sugar-creamer pair, that goldenrod collection came home with me, and with it came my desire to find out more about the history and value of these artifacts of my childhood—and just about everybody else born between 1940 and 1980. The Melamine Era Dishes made of melamine resin (the proper name for this plastic,... More

In Design: Touring for Tabletops in Milan

Last week, in the midst of an all-too-short, all-too-ambitious itinerary amongst various points in northern Italy, I managed to spend one full day wandering around stylish Milan, checking out stores, scouting for interesting kitchen and tableware. Though my abbreviated stay made it impossible to visit all of the promising shops on my list during business hours (which are generally much shorter in Italy than here, owing to the one- to three-hour midday prandial break, and, often, earlier closing hours), I did manage to make it to a few noteworthy establishments.... More

In Design: A Kitchen Renovation III

An example of kitchen cabinetry from Veneta Cucine. It has been more than a month since my last post about our kitchen renovation, and unless one counts an evening of hasty plaster removal, the physical work has yet to begin. Nonetheless, we’ve made progress. As we had more or less expected, the lynch pin of the project, effecting overall scheduling, design and budget, has been the kitchen cabinetry.... More

Cork Uncorked

In the last few years, with demand for environmentally friendly, natural materials on the rise, much attention has been paid in this regard to bamboo. But while it is a beautiful, sustainable, durable and versatile substance, we need not live by bamboo alone, particularly when there’s cork. More

For a Drink You Can't Put Down: Bottoms Up

This Monday the James Beard Foundation Greens is hosting a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. Mind you, the deed was not officially done until December 5th of 1933, with the ratification of the 21st amendment, but by golly, if the James Beard Foundation has sanctioned the early celebration of this momentous occasion, who am I to quibble? Nobody, that’s who, and thus, I will be eagerly joining in the festivities on Monday evening. So, it is in the spirit of this event, with free flowing libations in mind, that I decided to introduce you to some of my very favorite drinking companions: bottoms up shot glasses.... More

In Design: Kitchenwares in Lisbon

My husband and I went to Lisbon for the first time (hopefully not the last) recently. Knowing virtually nothing about the city or, for that matter, Portuguese history and culture at large, we chose the destination on the basis of some vague recollections of positive things heard, the fact that we hadn't been there before and, in light of the trip's brevity, that it wasn't too far away. More

In Design: Birch Branch Mugs

I’ve recently had the pleasure of spending some time in the production kitchen of Brooklyn-based chocolatier CocoaVino, observing firsthand the care and attention given to every detail by proprietors Alisha Lumea and Avril Pendergast-Fischer. In addition to creating their unique and delectable chocolate bonbons and confections—all handcrafted to exacting standards—the duo also designs the company’s graphics and packaging, right down to the special box inserts that hold the bonbons snuggly in place. This year, they’ve taken things even further, designing and making a small lot of beautiful cups for sipping their new hot chocolate mix. Individually sculpted by Ms. Pendergast-Fischer to resemble sections of white birch branch (complementing the birch-bark motif on the hot chocolate box), the charming shot-sized ceramic... More

In Design: Easy Embellishments for your Thanksgiving Table

Lidded eggplant teacups can be perfectly repurposed to serve soup—while also keeping it warm. In the midst of planning and executing a Thanksgiving feast, few of us have the time or even the space for elaborate table decorations. And with a meal that tends to consist of so many textures, colors, shapes, and sizes, there’s little need for extensive embellishment, anyway—usually just a few small flourishes are all it takes to elevate the most basic table setting to the occasion. Here are three of my favorite time- and space-friendly picks for adding detail and dimension to this year’s Thanksgiving table.... More

In Design: Lab Ware in the Kitchen

Halloween is fast approaching, and laboratory vessels like test tubes and beakers make great substitutions for the standard orange and black Solo cups, adding a little weird-science flare to whatever potion you might be serving. But lab ware, with its heat- and shatter-resistance and various shapes, can be a versatile addition to the kitchen and dining room well beyond the holiday. When integrated with simple tableware, porcelain and glass laboratory items add graceful points of visual interest to formal tables, but when arranged en masse in the kitchen, they impart an air of no-nonsense utility.... More

In Design: A Kitchen Renovation

A few years ago, my husband and I bought the apartment next door with the intention of joining the two to make one large apartment with a new kitchen at its core. Since then, we’ve been saving up to do it right, and it appears as though this winter we will finally be moving forward on our plans. So, over the coming months, interspersed with standard posts about kitchen gadgetry, tableware, and one-off design ideas, I will be sharing with you the trials and tribulations of planning, sourcing, and construction, as well as the general thought processes behind our choices for everything from flooring to lighting. Although our apartment is blessedly large by New York City standards, at 10 feet... More

In Design: OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper

On a recent trip to a local Sur La Table, I discovered the Oxo Good Grips Corn Stripper, which is neither an exotic dancer from Iowa nor a tool used for foot care. Rather, it is, of course, a gadget devoted to cutting corn kernels from corn cobs. I was hesitant to dive in. First of all, historically, I have not been an advocate of Good Grips products, with their bulky, awkward knobs and handles, pandering to kitchen neophytes who are threatened either by kitchen tools in general or by the imagined fatigue, calluses, and finger dents that the occasional use of kitchen tools might cause. Secondly, I have a kitchen full of gadgets that never get used—crank-action apple peelers,... More

In Design: New Life for Old Plates

Fashion plates: A creamer from Esther Derkx, a Cj O'Neill plate, a cup from Joanna Meroz's Crackery collection. Most of us have at least a few pieces of cracked, chipped, and mismatched tableware that haven’t seen a table in years, languishing in some dark upper cupboard, evidence of life past. But some gifted designers are proving that new life can be coaxed out of such old pieces, yielding functional, provocative works of art, worthy of any table.... More

In Design: Rubber Flooring

Tile, linoleum, hardwood, and laminate—these are the options that immediately come to mind for kitchen flooring. But what about rubber? Rubber flooring already has a presence in residential kitchens in the UK and Australia, but in the States, the material is probably most familiar in a public or commercial context: on stairs and in gyms, bank vestibules and bus aisles. Rubber is used in those instances for its durability, slip-resistance, and ease of care, all of which are key characteristics for kitchen flooring. Also, because it is less rigid than other options, rubber flooring is more shock absorbent, a benefit to your feet and, perhaps, the occasional dropped drinking glass.... More

In Design: Nesting Flatware

Editor's note: Before we jump into this next post, I'd like to introduce Amanda Clarke, who will be joining us each week with a post on design for the kitchen. Welcome, Amanda! —Adam Whether you’ll be celebrating this Labor Day at the beach, the park, or in the backyard, here are a few ideas to give this weekend’s meals a dose of style with a nod to the environment. Disposable plates and platters made of bamboo, a readily renewable resource, are sturdy and attractive alternatives to classic paper, plastic and Styrofoam. The plates are chemical- and preservative-free and biodegrade in 4 to 6 months. The Mangia! flatware set is a stylish and reusable alternative to the flimsy, disposable plastic silverware... More

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