One of the things I used to long for in my early twenties was a room of my own with a door I could shut. I had a complete Virginia Woolf complex, and operated under the belief I would be more productive if I could contain myself in solitude, within the confines of four walls. And eventually, when we moved into our home, I claimed a room on the first floor of my home that I thought would be the creative space from which I would work and write.
All of that was reverie, for in reality, I am the type of person who likes to pick up and work in a different location from day to day. At home, I'll set up shop in the dining room, in bed, on the living room sofa, or even from my bedroom closet - but rarely ever in my office. Over the years, my office has functioned as a dumping ground for piles of papers, books, and other orphan items, and it's a space that I rarely occupy.
So I'm giving up on the notion that I need to have one static space for myself. I don't. I've made great efforts this year to let go of things I don't use, and the room is just one of those things.
I thought for a while on how to make this space work, and realized that it could make for a great flexible space. I'm calling it the flex room. A gallery for my husband's art. A meeting space. A dining room for larger parties. Complete with a gallery wall and streamlined storage for home office needs.
This is what our living room looks like right now - and behind it is my office space. In a few weeks, that wall will come down and we'll make way for a space that best suits the way we want to live now.
“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own
My husband Chris is an artist who has been making machined metal sculptures for over a decade, at a rate of about a dozen every year. While we have been together, I have watched his craft and career evolve and grow, and I am exceptionally proud of his accomplishments. Chris has also been very fortunate to find patrons of his work, and so his artwork, which begin as a little spark in his mind, usually make their way out into the world to a permanent home.
Pending the departure of one of Chris' pieces, we're lucky to enjoy the work ourselves in our own home. Although Chris has sold nearly most of his sculptures, we have more than a handful that have become temporary fixtures in our home. Lately, we've been trying to come up with ways to display his work in our home in a way that is truer to our combined aesthetics. Chris' work is technically precise and have clean and glossy surfaces, and are typically displayed against white walls or on white stands in a gallery or museum setting. They would undoubtedly look at home in a sleek, minimalist environment, but that's a little boring, isn't it?
Chris was interested in photographing his work in a more natural environment, and allowed me to style his work to my preferences. I'm going to admit that I had way more fun styling these "shelfies" than I thought I ever could. Chris' sculptures aren't material representations of any particular object found within our world, but for me, they can invoke certain emotional reactions borne out of my perspective. I'll find that when he finishes a piece, each one has its own distinct personality and presence. While styling Chris' sculptures, I placed his work within the context of commonly known objects - plants, books, machines - to express that twinge of my own personal response to his work.
This year, Chris has been experimenting with these striking black dibond drawings of his new pieces. I love how his sculptures pair with these stunning drawings. In these photos, each of the drawings correspond with the main sculpture.
You can see all of Chris' sculptures on his website.
My husband Chris and I have lived in our three-story, single family Victorian in Baltimore for the last decade. Our house is nearly 120 years old and has amazing bones. By the time we moved in, our home had been split into two units and had undergone more than its fair share of half-hearted renovations. We were definitely not in a position to undergo a complete renovation when we moved in, so we have been remodeling the house very slowly, room by room, over the course of the last decade. ***A very special note of thanks to Tessa Sollway, my talented photographer gal pal who took the amazing "after" shots.
When I was in college, I waited tables at a 24/7 diner. On some shifts, I would volunteer to wash dishes and prep food in the steamy little galley kitchen. What I remember most about this time, other than burning my hands on hot plates and having fun with my coworkers, was the little kitchen where I worked. The narrow kitchen space couldn’t have been much bigger than 100 square feet, but it impressively fit a few lowboy fridges, an industrial oven range, a dishwashing station, and a slew of pots, pans and cooking utensils on open shelves and hooks. The tight footprint made my job a little easier, with all of the necessities within reach.
Years later, in 2010, my husband Chris and I were fortunate enough to not only have our own home, but also have enough funds to renovate our old kitchen. When we were designing the kitchen layout, functionality prevailed in every single aspect of our decision making. We cook nearly all of our meals together and aren't afraid to get messy, so we knew that our kitchen needed to be a true workhorse. I thought about my dishwashing days, and the various commercial kitchens I had worked in during my years in food service, and collaborated with my husband to figure out the best possible layout for our kitchen. We initially rejected a bunch of different layouts, but when I proposed a kitchen "peninsula," everything else fell into place.
Not technically an island, but pretty close! Our kitchen is large but a floating island didn't feel right. This peninsula has the effect of creating a small galley kitchen within a larger space. It is also centrally located, so if I am standing at the stove, I only need to do is turn around to face the sink area. Our pots and pans hang within reach on a half circle pot rack and stainless steel pegboard (sourced from a car parts supplier). Two sets of drawers flank the oven, where we store our dining and cooking utensils, oven mitts, storage containers, and baking dishes.
Next to the pot rack is our pantry. This used to be where the oven sat in our old kitchen, but the small confines of that nook made it a little hard to cook. A reach-in pantry makes a lot of sense in this spot, given the location next to the stove. We briefly considered adding doors, but realized they would only get in the way. I also like seeing everything at once so I can easily keep track of our dry goods. Organizing everything into boxes and baskets helps keep this space in order. We tucked the microwave into the pantry so it would be out of the way, but still easily accessible.
These shelves and mug rail were in our old kitchen, and we liked it so much we reinstalled them after the renovation. Dishes and bowls go in a drawer underneath.
That refrigerator is a vestige of our old kitchen. I'm pretty sure it is over thirty years old, but it is still kicking it after all these years. They make prettier ones these days, but I'll admit that the faux wood detailing has surprisingly grown on me, and is not a complete eyesore in its newer digs.
This is a long expanse of countertop which comes in handy for food preparation. We keep our lesser-used kitchen items in these drawers. We left an open space underneath of the countertop to fit a rolling cart, in lieu of another base cabinet. The cart has a butcher block top, and I like to use this surface for kneading dough and making pizzas.
We completed this kitchen renovation project in 2010, so much of what you see are hallmarks of what was trending heavily at the time: subway tile, open shelving, and pegboard kitchen storage. I have to say that the practicality of these elements is not lost on me at all, even five years later. We built this kitchen to do some heavy lifting when it comes to cooking, and I'm still really pleased with how seamlessly Chris and I move around in this space when we're cooking together. I hope you've enjoyed taking a look around!
I took these shots back in 2010, right before we renovated the kitchen. I recall hating it at the time, with all the drop tile, weirdly situated appliances, and crappy plastic cabinetry, but we had a lot of good times here. So many raucous parties, beer brewing sessions, and recipe experiments took place in this room. This is the kitchen where I learned how to really cook in my twenties, from where we gazed out onto our vegetable garden in the backyard, and where I made mistakes and learned from them.