24 June 2011

How do you make a boring apartment kitchen not boring?

First, yesterday was my mom's birthday. We will be celebrating sometime next week when she & my dad come to Colorado! Yay! I've missed you both! Happy birthday, Mom!

Ok. This is our kitchen.


Well, not literally our kitchen. I got this photo off of our apartment complex's website. I Photoshopped out some of the unnecessary frou frou that some "stylist" put on the counters for staging. I've got my own frou frou (my wooden kitchen angel I bought in Kenya, the "VINO" sign that sits next to her on the back of the stove), but my kitchen isn't camera ready right now. Just know that this is pretty much what it looks like. It's not the worst kitchen in the world, as apartment kitchens go. It's not a tiny galley kitchen. It's not closed off from the rest of the apartment. It's not hideous colors. So no complaints there.

If this were my very own kitchen to do with as I please, I would paint the walls, paint the cabinets, replace the counters, replace the floors... But this is not my very own. And I'm not allowed to paint. At all. And as it turns out, we will not be selling our house in Nebraska that we've had on the market for a few months. We will be renting it, which means that we will continue renting an apartment here in Colorado until we can save a hefty down payment for a house. Thus the very average kitchen. And I don't think I'm average, when it comes to my home. For some reason, I always have to do something different.

So here is the challenge: make this space not boring in a way that is in no way permanent. My solution?

Contact paper.

Yes, contact paper. But not the orange & yellow & avocado floral variety from the 70s. Not the typical "wood grain" variety, either. Have you heard that they're making the stuff in Chalkboard?? Chalkboard on a roll, with a sticky back! It comes 18 inches wide and 6 feet long. As long as it doesn't damage the walls (I've been researching in blogtown), I'm going for it.

But wait...did I forget to mention the stainless steel look contact paper? They make that, too! Oh, the possibilities. Both of them you can get all over. For sure on Amazon. I saw the stainless steel stuff at Home Depot today.

I've been kinda inspired by this post from apartmenttherapy.com about fridge modifications.
I took the liberty of mocking up several combinations of chalkboard/stainless steel looks in this kitchen. 

original - no modifications

Chalkboard back splash ( added at utensil rail over the range. Can I do that??)
Chalkboard back splash and cabinets
Stainless steel back splash and chalkboard cabinets
Stainless steel back splash and chalkboard fridge
Stainless steel and chalkboard back splash and chalkboard cabinets
Stainless steel and chalkboard back splash and chalkboard fridge
Too much chalkboard!
Thought I'd try another style of contact paper...

You know, I wouldn't necessarily have to attach the contact paper directly to the wall. I could use luan plywood or some other light-weight surface. Maybe I could attach that with sticky tack. Is that tacky? ??

Or I could use these wall panels from Ikea. They are supposed to go up with a rail system. Not sure if that would work in this kitchen, but I'll see - when Colorado's very first Ikea opens in July! I'm a little giddy about it.

What do you think? Which one do you like best? Or should I scrap the idea all together? What are your ideas for non-permanent changes??

11 June 2011

Back to España

Plaza Cervantes, Alcala de Henares
 No, we're not moving back to Spain. But I did get a chance to go back for 2 1/2 weeks. I went to teach a Photoshop workshop with the ministry we used to work with when we lived there before. It was like old times! I started this blog when we lived in Spain (from 2007-2009). You can go back to the beginning in the blog archives and read about it if you have a hankering. Good times.

Although I was there for "work", I arrived a few days early so I could hang out with my good friend, Loida, and her family in Zaragoza (half way between Madrid & Barcelona). It was SO good to see them all again. It made me realize how much of my Spanish I have forgotten, not that I knew a whole lot to begin with. But Loida had mercy on me and spoke English or VERY slow, basic and enunciated Spanish. Thanks, Loida! :)

Loida and her Spanish horchata (which is VERY different from Mexican horchata).
Her sister, Eli and her brother, Javi, also speak English very well, so I wasn't completely in the dark. But when Grandma or their parents spoke to me in fast Spanish, I did a lot of smiling and nodding.

Loida, her cousin Olga, and her grandma.
Eli in her purple room.
Such a great family.

I had missed so many things about Spain. Of course I missed our friends. But to be shallow, I REALLY missed the coffee.

My first Spanish coffee on my trip back to Spain - one of MANY.
Loida also took me to an incredible gelato place. We can get gelato in Denver, but really, does it compare to actual European made gelato??

All natural gelato place in Zaragoza.
Really??? How am I supposed to choose??
But I did choose. "Pistacchio Sublime" and Amaretto.
Loida during.
Seriously, this place was over the top cool. The gelato was super delicious and the decor was something I wouldn't mind adapting for my own kitchen some day. Lots of natural wood and black accents. I probably wouldn't wear the cute puffy black chef hats the gals working there had on, but maybe...

We walked back home that evening, so that we could work off a little of that gelato. I snapped this photo of the amazing cathedral of Zaragoza while standing on the bridge the spans the Ebro River. So beautiful.

I left the next morning to go back to Alcala de Henares to start the "work" I came to Spain to do (it just doesn't seem like real work!). More about the rest of my trip later...

Hope you enjoyed!