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Before & After: A Cookbook Author's Tuscan Kitchen Make-Over

As a Brit living in Sweden - by way of the USA, Scotland and Dubai (scarily, my time abroad outweighs my childhood years in England now!) - I am always fascinated to see the homes of expatriates - and how the cultures intertwine. Emiko Davies is an Australian-Japanese food writer, photographer and cookbook author (her four books include Forentine: The True Cuisine of Florence, Acquacotta, Tortellini at Midnight and Torta della Nonna). Growing up in a diplomatic family, Emiko spent most of her life living abroad. After graduating art school, she ended up in Florence and fell in love with a Tuscan sommelier. Mid pandemic, the pair moved to a new home in a small hilltop town in Tuscany with their DAUGHTERS Mariù (8) and Luna (3). 

Built in 1800, the pair fell in love with the palazzo and its wonderful old tiles, high ceilings with frescoes, wooden beams and 210 cm windows and views over the valley. Plus, it was a few hundred metres from Emiko's favourite butcher as well as an organic produce shop, a good pasticcera and a handful of restaurants. 

Needless to say, the first thing Emiko did when she moved in, was plan and renovate the 220-year-old kitchen! 

Kitchen before

Emiko was thrilled to have a large kitchen (or at least larger than their one in Florence). She was keen to create a practical, reliable and sustainable space - as well as somewhere she and Marco could spread out while cooking. A large dining table would be at the centre - offering a place for friends to sit, and somewhere the girls could play, chat about their day and do their homework while Emiko cooks. 



Kitchen after
Italy was hit hard by the pandemic / lockdown, and Emiko was keen to support local businesses. This led her to Very Simple Kitchen - a young, local kitchen design company in Bologna, who specialise in versatile modules inspired by vintage industrial workbenches. 

The century old table previously belonged to Marco's great-grandfather and had been hidden away in his Mother's attic. It was made by a local carpenter using wood and marble recycled from Angiolino's bar. They cleaned it up, sanded it down and it was good to go! Emiko loves seeing her girls around a table that's steeped in family history. 

The sturdy stainless-steel benches are powder-coated in teal giving the room warmth and the doors hide a dishwasher (Emiko's first!) as well as bins, heavy pots, cutlery and a hidden safety drawer for their vast array of kitchen knives. 

A small room off the side of the kitchen has been converted into a pantry and laundry room. Freestanding shelves provide a spot for their extensive collection of cookbooks. 


Emiko decided to go for a cleaner, modern look without top cabinets - instead, using a rod to hang utensils (and keep them to hand). 

The work surface is made from terrazzo (with peach and green splatters) chosen because it's practical, easy to clean and fairly resistant to stains. Plus, it looks pretty too! 

Emiko and Marco love to cook side by side, so it was important to design a longer worktop they could share. They also chose a larger induction stove from Smeg (a first for Emiko who was looking for a more sustainable and long-lasting option). I have also installed induction stoves (from Bosch) in our kitchen at home and also at the cottage and I'm so pleased with them! 

The cabinetry is built in free-standing units, allowing for a variety of different types of storage. A glimpse into the hallway shows another type of tiling (every room features a different tile!). 

I love this renovation  - and how they kept some of the wonderful details like the tiles (it would have been a travesty to remove those!), plus it looks so warm and relaxed. I can so imagine the family all gathered - Emiko cooking, Marco kneading bread and the girls at the table, how about you?

I'm looking forward to following Emiko's journey to see what they do next in their home! You can find her here over on her blog and also instagram.

Curious to see more kitchen renovation ideas over the weekend? 


Right folks, that's it from me this week! I hope you've enjoyed all the tours! 

We're actually off camping this weekend - my third time ever. The level of kit involved is nuts - but the children are so excited so hopefully it will feel worthwhile once we arrive!  I hope the Swedish weather gods treat us to fair winds and sunshine. And wishing the same for you! 

Vi ses på Måndag!

Niki

Photography courtesy of Emiko Davies

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A Glimpse Inside Our Summer Cottage Kitchen - Ready For The Season!


Tjena! Happy Friday friends! My family and I are enjoying the first long public holiday of the year up at the cottage - and I've been busy pepping up our little summer cottage kitchen. It's amazing what small touches can make (if you're curious about the bigger ones - I shared all the info about our renovation here - it was a true labour of love!). Many of the new pieces are from my fab long-term Danish partner Nordal who kindly sponsored this post, with the exception of an olive tree - my new pride and joy from a local garden centre (let's hope I can keep it alive!)! I hope you like the updates as much as I do - and that they give you a few ideas for your own kitchen! 

There's something dramatic about dark stoneware - it's especially popular in Swedish restaurants since it really makes the natural colours of food pop. These tea plates are part of the Nordal spring news and have a beautiful midnight blue sheen when they catch the light. I also couldn't resist the matching coffee cups!  The waffle tea towel is also new, but I've had the gold cutlery for years! 

One of the things I tend to never have enough of is tiny bowls, do you find that too? They're really handy for everything from salt, butter and nuts to storing items like this wooden scrubbing brush. This little stone Saisolo bowl is handmade so they are all unique - the beauty is in the imperfection! 

Since our kitchen is predominantly white and grey, I try to use wood and other natural materials to add warmth - hence why the chopping boards (including a new herringbone one) and utensils like wooden spoons are always on display - it's kind pf practical too: 'grab and go'! Lately I've been using vases for utensils (this is the Nago tall vase) - but I'm sure, come summer I'll be using it for fresh flowers instead! 

When I first put the curtains up in the doorway my Mother-in-Law (who's been enjoying the cottage ever since she was a small child) was a little uncertain. But now she has grown to love them. They are a lovely way to keep the draft out in the winter, shield the kitchen from the neighbours on warmer days, and they look so pretty fluttering in the breeze. 

The girls love having a stool in the kitchen (this NEN rattan one is also a Nordal piece) - cleaning the mud off new potatoes is a big Swedish summer pastime and can take copious amounts of time - so this is a perfect place for them to sit while they help out! 


One of the best things we did in the kitchen was put up this peg rail, it stores a never-ending array of utensils, textiles (like the LYNX tea towel and Mira pot holder) and banana fibre rope bag

I think that's all the updates for now, but who knows what we might find at 'loppis' flea markets come summer. 

I hope you like the new pieces, if you're ever passing by, please do stop by for a coffee and help christen the new cups! 

Oh, and if you have any questions about anything you see in these pictures, just give me a shout and I'll do my best to help!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Niki

This post is sponsored by Nordal. However, all words are my own and I only ever work with brands I love and think you will too. Thank you for supporting the wonderful businesses that make My Scandinavian Home possible.

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A Charming Shaker-style Swedish Country Kitchen

I'm a little tired of our kitchen. It's so.... WHITE! And I'm not so sure we need ALL the storage, I mean it's handy, but we really do fill the cupboards with a lot of rubbish, especially in the dining area (thoughts?). So, I've been looking around for kitchen inspiration. And that's when I stumbled across the incredible summer home of Ellen Dixdotter - CEO of Malene Birger and Jacob Holst - an interior architect. Granted their kitchen is in a beautiful old home in the heart of Skåne countryside and a lot bigger than ours (and don't even get me started on the period features!) - I still feel there's plenty of inspiration to be taken away from it - and if nothing else, we get to pull up a chair and dream for a while, which is always welcome in these times, right? Ready to take a peek?  

When the family first moved in, the house was kitted out with a small, tired looking IKEA kitchen with a low ceiling and laminate flooring. 

For a family who love to cook while enjoying a glass of wine - the kitchen is considered the heart of the home - and Ellen and Jacob were keen to create a spacious and sociable space.  They removed the ceiling and knocked through a wall two the sitting room before designing the 'shaker' kitchen together with Nordiska Kök - who specialise in dreamy, custom-built kitchens. 

They also added SMEG appliances as well as a sink, tap and knobs from Swedish company Sekelskifte

Look closely and you'll also spot vintage chopping boards (source similar antique chopping boards here*) and beautiful stoneware - adding to the relaxed, earthy vibe of the space. 

The kitchen island was a 'loppis' (flea market find) - and one of the details I'd love to incorporate into my own kitchen / dining area (I can't wait for the flea markets to open and get scouring, isn't it beautiful?). 

I also love the glass cabinet! Although newly built on site, Nordisk Kök recommended using antique glass in order for the piece to work seamlessly with the traditional country house. 

I have been dreaming about a similar piece ever since I featured Malin Persson's Malmö home (which I have since visited on a few occasions - and it's even more beautiful in real life!). I think they're a great addition to any home. Are you a fan too? 


What a beautiful kitchen - I think they've achieved everything they set out to do and more! 

Could you imagine cooking away here in the evenings over a glass of wine? 

In case you're also looking for kitchen inspiration, here are a few others I love: 


Got a narrow / galley-style kitchen? Per and I renovated our summer cottage kitchen a couple of years back and it's become my favourite room in the cottage! You can find all the details here

Plus, these posts might be helpful too: 

Oh, and one more thing. Ellen and Jacob are co-owners of an online store Cappelendimyr specialising in contemporary artisanal rugs made from natural wool. I've only just discovered this today and am so excited, they are incredible! 

Wishing you a lovely, sunny day friends!

Niki

Photography: Andrea Papini, shared with kind permission
*contains affiliate links

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Before & After: A Derelict Classroom Becomes An Incredible Kitchen!

Hello friends! Boy, have I got something inspiring to share with you today! I admire many people in the design world. But there are two people in particular, I am constantly in awe of: Laura Muthesius and Nora Eisermann of Our Food Stories. Everything this lovely couple touch turns to gold - from a Berlin warehouse and German countryside apartment to a beautiful cottage kitchen in Sweden. And now, they've turned their hands to a former schoolhouse in rural Germany. When they got the keys to the property a few months ago, it had been empty for decades and the interior was, shall we say 'rustic' to say the least! So much so, many would have run a mile, myself included. But fortune favours the brave and these two had a vision - which, with a lot of hard work, would become a dream reality! 

The exterior and interior was in dire need of some TLC, with many of the original features stripped away - including the windows, which had been replaced with cheap reproductions. 

Working as a food stylist and photographer (with over one million followers on instagram, no less!), Laura and Nora were keen to create a large kitchen from which to work, film and live. The pair set about tearing out a small bathroom to recreate the original classroom area. 

They were hoping to find a wood floor lurking beneath the layer of concrete but sadly, when they peeled it back, it had been destroyed so they laid a new oak wood parquet floor. They also swapped out the modern windows and replaced them with replicates of the original windows from Sorpetaler Fensterbau.

Fortunately, they were able to bring their Devol kitchen from their previous country apartment, which they supplemented with extra units to capitalise on space. 


One of the features I love the most is the vintage arched door, which Nora sourced online - WHAT A FIND!!!!


The kitchen units and worktops were planned around the natural light which pours in through the large windows. 

They installed a Bertazzoni cooker (which will no doubt play a major part in their delicous cake creation moving forward!). 

An incredible DeVol marble sink matches the countertop which was custom-made by MCR

Matt limewash paint from Bauwer Color was applied to the walls (Ibiza) and ceiling (Smokebush).  

And finally, the pair installed a mantel piece and a DeVol freestanding pantry cupboard on the opposite side of the kitchen. 

I love glass cabinets - they're a perfect way to display pretty kitchen items while keeping them dust free (a big problem with the open shelves under my kitchen island!). 

All-in-all one, a really incredible kitchen, don't you think? Trust this pair to create such a unique and original, timeless kitchen!

You can keep to date with their latest recipes on @_foodstories and interior projects over at @_designtales_. They've also shared more info about this kitchen reno here - and if you're curious, you can take a peek at their cosy Swedish cottage kitchen here

And if you're looking for more kitchen inspiration today - check out: 


Have a wonderful start to the week friends! 

Niki

Photography: Nora Eisermann & Laura Muthesius / Our Food Stories - shared with kind permission. 

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Our kitchen - And the Perfect Danish Counter Stool!

MSH partnership*
Do you have a kitchen island? We added one when we first moved in over ten years ago. Little did we know it would become the hub of the home. It's used as a breakfast bar, a place to catch up after school / work, and a relaxed gathering place for friends (although there hasn't been so much of the latter lately, unfortunately!).  One of the trickiest things about a kitchen island though, is getting the stools right. What height? Should they have a back? Well friends, after a lengthy search, the B's might just have found 'the one' - thanks to Danish brand Skovby

Say 'hej' (pronounced 'hi') to the Skovby Counter Stool #808

Nerd alert: I'm about to share a little info about the height - which is helpful if you're sourcing a counter / bar stool but maybe not if you've just come here to enjoy a little inspiration today!

The height
It turns out, I wasn't looking for a bar stool (my initial search words!) - but a 'Counter Stool' - which tend to be 12 cm - 15 cm (5 to 6 inches) lower (although Skovby does do a nice Bar Stool too). It's also important to feel comfy - which means you want a clearance of around 22 cm - 30 cm (9 to 12 inches) between the seat and underside of the countertop. The seat on this stool is 65 cm high - allowing for just over a 22 cm gap, I'd see that is the absolute minimum requirement, but it totally works for our family. 

Comfort and design
Having lived in Scandinavia for more than 17 years (where did the time go?) - I'd never compromise on form over function. I'm also keenly aware that people tend to linger on stools longer than you think (just ask my younger daughter Allie!). With this in mind, I do love a backrest! The shell seat and back on this counter stool is crafted from the same piece of white oil oak veneer. And although it looks beautifully slim, it's also incredibly strong (it's internationally certified for use in cafes, restaurants, office buildings etc). The chrome footrest is also super practical. Trust the Danes to get it just right! 

Sidenote: in a couple of these pictures, I've shown a counter stool at the end of the island - in practise we never actually place one there as the island is only designed for two stools on the longer side. I was just exercising a little artistic license so you could see the stool from the back! 

Allie's favourite spot - she sits here for breakfast, a cup of tea (she is half English after all!) - and to chat to us about her day and what she's done at her gymnastics! 


I hope you enjoyed these snapshots from our kitchen - and the Skovby Counter Stool #808

I feel so honoured to call Skovby a long-term partner - in case you're curious about other beautifully crafted items I've put to the test, check out the following: 


Here's to Danish craftsmanship and beautiful design! 

In case you're interested in one or more of these fine specimens for your own home, you can find your nearest Skovby retailer here

Curious about other items seen in these pics of my kitchen? Give me a shout below and I'd be happy to help!

Wishing you a lovely day friends! 

Niki

*This post is brought to you in paid partnership with Skovby. However, all words are my own and I only ever work with brands I love and think you will too! Thank you for supporting the wonderful businesses that make My Scandinavian Home possible. 

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