Here’s a quick look at my kitchen, and what it was like before! When I first started thinking about renovating our current home, the room that required the most thought was the kitchen. The initial configuration of the sink didn’t sit well with me, and the yellowing tiles were screaming for an upgrade – but the room had potential and I had to think of creative ways to change the space completely.
On that note, I like to think of any space as having ‘potential’, especially if we are not the first occupants. It takes complete trust from your significant other to believe in a vision that you have in your head which you can’t exactly describe or draw out, and I’m glad Imran had faith in me (though admittedly, it took a little bit of forceful persuasion).
Interestingly, we did not plan for the white-washed teak rack to be placed next to the oven. Imran did not want the walkway to be obstructed, so we wanted to keep it empty. I bought the teak rack from Golden Teak at Tan Boon Liat, and wanted to use it as a condiments rack to be placed next to the outdoor wet kitchen, but somehow the thought of placing it next to the oven came to mind, and I’m glad it fits like a glove!
I had to settle on a cooker and a fridge first before commencing renovations. Since these two appliances were the biggest, we had to shape the space around them. I went for a SMEG cooker for two reasons: First is its retro design – it almost reminds you of a ‘traditional Italian family’s kitchen’, the second is its portability. The cooker is a freestanding one, so if we were to move in the future, our cooker can come with!
I visited the the SMEG showroom to get exact measurements and to see the appliances for myself. I had envisioned a Cream cooker and fridge, but it was not in stock, so we went for the black versions. On hindsight I am so glad we went with black – whilst it is an unconventional choice, it anchors the decor and is always a conversation piece for anyone who enters the kitchen. A cream coloured cooker and fridge would have made the space too feminine!
If I can have three points of advice to give when renovating a kitchen, apart from buying the biggest 2 – 3 appliances first, is the following:
1. Let Your Carpenter Give You Functional Advice
I did not enlist the help of an Interior Designer, and managed the design process on my own. I enlisted the help of the carpenters that did up my office (Yeung Renovation) to execute what I had in mind. While carpenters may not get your design vision all the time, they have the expertise when it comes to functional carpentry. Ask them for advice when it comes to dimensions, and carpentry features you can include to make your kitchen more seamless (like adding an extendable track for the cooking gas so it’s easy for you to replace the gas without reaching in for the hoses, or opting for fire-proof laminates to line your kitchen tabletop).
That said, if you do not have an ID, you have to be very hands-on and oversee important aspects like material and colour selection (what is “off-white” to you may not be “off-white” to them). I went to purchase the black shelving knobs from IKEA on my own, as I did not like any of my carpenter’s knobs. So if you are picky about the little details, source for them on your own! Going to your home to check on the renovation progress regularly is also imperative.
2. Let Your Mother Shop For Your Pots and Pans
Mothers know best, especially if they are regular cooks. Give your mom a budget at Takashimaya or Isetan, and they will go wild – I mean I would go wild if I were given money to spend at a departmental store too. I got my mom to come back to Singapore when we were doing up the kitchen because I knew I would need her help. She would know the suitable sizes of pots and pans to purchase, the right knives to choose, the utensils I would need, and the essential groceries required to kickstart my cooking pantry. Your mom will save you and your kitchen. And when she comes over and cooks at your place, she can never say, “Why don’t you have this or that?! How can I cook?!”.
3. Let The Appliances and Cutlery Speak For Itself
You can keep the renovation cost low by letting the cooker anchor the decor of the kitchen. I also painted the room in a light green shade (Nippon Paint in Young Bud) to give the room a different feel from the rest of the house. The pottery, ceramic plates, and kettle I’ve collected over the years are also placed on display as decorative items. So if you are waiting for your home – don’t be afraid to start collecting pottery NOW. If you see something you like, and if it’s practical, get it! You may never have the chance to buy that item again when you move in.
ITEMS FROM ANDREA'S KITCHEN
Having fallen in love with this ceramic kettle 5 years ago when I saw it in a hotel in Penang, I went all around Penang in vain trying to find this exact kettle from Malaysian-electronics brand Elba. I managed to find a set in Kuala Lumpur, but I don't think this model is on sale anymore unfortunately.
Carefully wrapped and brought back from my trip to Portugal, I found this ceramic egg tray at a family-owned ceramics shop near our boutique hotel. We asked the hotel owners where they usually get their wares, and this shop came highly recommended.
I commissioned these cups from local potter Manhang (find her on @pottobelle), I wanted something unique to our home, and something that reflected the kind of pottery I liked. The result was a set of 8 beautiful cups gas fired at 1300C!
These 4 dessert plates were purchased at a traditional matcha dessert house in Kyushu, Japan. Shopping for pottery in Kyoto and Mamedamachi (Kyushu) has always been rewarding.
My friend Lauren wanted to get me a housewarming present and asked if I wanted anything in particular. I requested for a vintage clock, and she bought this for me from Bulgaria. Even if it does not function as a clock, it is a great decor piece.
A good set of knives is so important. I know the price is a little steep, but once you get a good set, they last you 10-20 years. All you need to do is maintain them regularly by getting a knife sharpening block.
Till the next home feature!