When my husband and I bought our 1930's Tudor 18 years ago in Minneapolis, the kitchen had recently been remodeled. I didn't love the look but my experience cooking with my sis in Italy taught me that as long as I could boil water for pasta, tutto è bene!
Over the years, I tore out kitchen pics from magazines and daydreamed about our 100-year-old terracotta tiled kitchen on Lake Como, knowing I eventually wanted to bring a little old-world charm into my own kitchen. So about 3 years ago, I painted my cabinets blush pink, found a beautiful piece of quartzite for my counter and backsplash and replaced the granite island with slabs of rich walnut. Read on for a brief Q&A where I share the inspiration behind my cabinet color, my #1 favorite feature, and of course, what Alora scents I love keeping in the space!
Where did you gather inspiration for your kitchen design?
My time spent living and traveling around Italy inspired my kitchen design. I loved the old, well-used kitchens I’d seen including the teeny-tiny one in our 100+ year-old villa on Lake Como. I’m also a big fan of House & Garden Magazine and the British approach to interior design - so full of contrasts. The layering of patterns and colors has such personality yet is cozy and comfortable too. Together these two styles led me to own custom kitchen design!
Image Source: House & Garden | Photo Credit: Catherine Gratwicke
What unique elements did you design in your space that remind you of your time in Italy?
The warm pink, copper and teal green hues were intentional, as they are colors I love and associate with Italy. The other element I adore - and is common in many European kitchens - is my built-in drainboard. I was so thrilled that the fabricator was able to incorporate this into the quartzite. It’s so functional and sleek and provides yet another way to appreciate the beautiful stone!
The cabinets are beautiful! How did you decide on the pink color? Can you share the color with us?
Because we didn’t do a total gutted kitchen remodel, I let our floor tile color guide me on choosing the best pink color for the cabinets. It was absolutely easier said than done! I had no idea how light - both natural and artificial - would affect the paint color’s appearance. Most of the time my cabinets look like the dusty rose color I chose, Benjamin Moore Chippendale Rosestone, but during certain times of the day they lean a bit more Barbie pink! Regardless, I love how they turned out, and I'm glad I chose the color I did. Plus the hue matches my favorite Italian coffee cup!
What kind of countertop materials did you decide on, and where did you find them? Have they held up with time?
A dear friend of mine who is an interior designer took me to Terrazzo & Marble Supply Co. here in Minneapolis where we found a slab of fusion quartzite. Instantly I knew it was the perfect stone for my kitchen thanks to its lovely pinky coral, rich brown and bluish-green tones. It’s gorgeous and adds the perfect amount of drama to my space. I was also talked into doing a “leather finish” on the quartzite which enables one to feel the wonderful natural stone texture. And yes, quartzite is very durable and mine has held up terrifically!
I love wood in my home and my dream kitchen centered around a big walnut island. I lucked out when my talented furniture-making friend told me he had three beautiful pieces of walnut available - my island dream came true! There's lots to love in my kitchen, but every time I walk in and see that rich walnut I am so pleased.
What is your favorite part of your updated space?
Oh boy, that’s a tough question! If I had to pick one thing, it would be the copper sink. I’ve always been drawn to the look of copper but had no idea how much I’d love the patina that develops based on what elements touch the surface. The constant change in the color and tones of the sink are a fun and beautiful bonus.
What Alora products and fragrances do you love using in your kitchen?
I shift scents with the seasons, so in spring and summer I use fresh-scented diffusers like Arancia and Toscana. Then, in the fall and winter, I shift to warmer favorites like Tre and Vaniglia. I also enjoy having a Vaniglia candle burning during the holidays when my daughter, Marie, and I bake! As for hand wash, Agrume is my fave in the kitchen. Its clean, crisp grapefruit does the trick on my most garlicky-scented hands!
Can you share any of your favorite Italian recipes that you enjoy cooking in this space with us?
The old-world feel of my kitchen reminds me of the fun meals my sister and I cooked in Italy, so I find myself drawn to sharing my favorite Marcella Hazan recipes: chicken cacciatore, bolognese, milk braised pork and her pesto - a fave of my kids and a weekly meal in our house in the summer. And - for dessert - I’m sharing my favorite olive oil citrus cake.
I love being in my kitchen. It's just what I hoped for - warm, pretty, memorable, and the perfect reminder of my time in Italy.
Cheers to beautiful meals and memorable moments shared in the cucina!