John and I recently completed a fun and challenging design project.
When our client Louise first contacted us for a design consultation, her kitchen was failing her. She described her situation like this:
“I am totally straightjacketed while trying to function in this space.”
Knowing Louise as a friend, John and I were troubled by this comment. In addition to being an accomplished professional violinist, Louise refers to herself on her website as “a passionate home cook and occasional chocolatier.”
She writes a blog about her two passions. It’s called the Kitchen Fiddler.
In it she shares recipes for amazing food that she prepares in her tiny Manhattan kitchen.
And each year in the run up to holidays, she operates a chocolate truffle making business, CocoaRoar, producing thousands of delicious truffles — in her tiny Manhattan kitchen.
Understanding how important it is for Louise to have a good relationship with her kitchen, John and I appreciated her frustration — which she later expanded on:
“I can barely bring myself to do anything in the kitchen these days! It’s to the point where I keep thinking I may have to stop making truffles on a large scale if I don’t make some improvements…”
We responded to her cry for help by scheduling a consultation as soon as possible.
Recognizing that Louise rents her apartment, it soon became clear what we couldn’t do… we couldn’t make the space bigger by knocking down a wall, or more efficient by relocating a door, and we couldn’t change the existing cabinets or counters.
The project demanded that we work with the tiny space, existing cabinets, a modest budget — and make improvements in time for early December truffle making.
It may appear that John was perplexed,
but he just looks like that when coming up with brilliant ideas.
We were confident that, with Louise’s input, we could set the vision for a better kitchen experience.
We asked Louise what she liked most about her kitchen, and what bothered her most.
Her answers were revealing and pointed us toward solutions.
She liked the convenience of having everything close at hand, and disliked the constant stacking and unstacking actions required to get things from her very limited cabinet and storage spaces.
A few weeks later we presented to Louise our vision of how her existing space…
could be improved, so that she and her kitchen could become best friends again.
Our strategy was a simple one:
Amplify the good stuff
Squelch the bad stuff
We proposed putting frequently used items within easy reach (which would reduce or eliminate the unstacking actions for these everyday things).
Louise told us she loved ALL our ideas (we’ll share more of the project with you in subsequent blogs), and she could not wait to have her most used pots and pans, spices and oils, and favorite mugs attractively displayed (which, of course, would free up space in her crammed cupboards).
When the project was complete,
we received the nicest thank you note.
As the designers, getting the following feedback was like music to our ears:
“I am totally in love with my new kitchen, and I am so grateful for your fabulous designs…”
But the best feedback from Louise, which gets to the heart of what motivates me and John, came in a later email:
“For the first time in all these years of December CocoaRoar season, I don’t feel like I’m a complete chaotic mess on the verge of a meltdown, and I’m actually cranking out thousands of truffles with much more ease than I could have ever imagined! Even my friends have commented on how much calmer I seem than in previous Decembers, and I think I’ve enjoyed the whole process more than I ever have before!”
So, as a result of our work, Louise feels calmer, is more productive, and enjoys her truffle making business more than ever. This is why John and I love doing our work, because a thoughtfully designed space has the power to uplift and transform the lives of its users.
John and I are very proud of our design solution. But most of all, we loved helping Louise get more joy from her space…
and bring a few thousand more handmade truffles into the world!
live. enjoy. repeat.