The new kitchen!

Now, you all know that I am *not* a blogger of design, houses, kitchens and Martha Stewart stuff.

I write about parenting, food, garden, homeschooling, gluten-free cooking, and my adventures while raising three children.

I also, freely and willingly, acknowledge that I am not a neat person. I'm not not an orderly person, and I don't believe in having a house that fits a magazine lifestyle.

 In fact, "wildy exuberant, with a generous helping of comfort, a dash of messy and a side of what-the-fuck" could sum up my decorating style.

But the kitchen is different. This is my home, where I cook, spend most of my day, and where I ply my skill. I cook for five people, three times a day, every day. That's 21 meals a week, times five servings. More than 100 servings a week need to come out of that kitchen, and that's not counting parties, birthday cakes, snacks, extra granola bars, muffins and the occasional cherry cobbler.

My kids can't have wheat, and they can't have dairy. That means we're not serving bagel bites and a side of Kraft mac and cheese for dinner, either. We're making real food, from scratch.

And that means that I want my tools close, I want the kitchen to be easy to clean, I need bowls, serving spoons and whisks to be close at hand, I want a baking station where I can churn out the GF goodies, and I need a place where I can spend a lot of time and actually enjoy it.

This is the kitchen when we moved in, on March 7:

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There was nothing really wrong with it.

It was functional, sort of, and aside from being boring, it was better than some kitchens I've had before.

But we got a loan with the house that let us spend a small amount of money toward fixing up the house.

Not a fortune, and not enough to knock out walls and build whatever I wanted, but enough to get a new sink and a new floor and to paint. I'd have to keep the old fridge, and the old dishwasher, and the cabinets. But I could get new countertops.

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The biggest problem with the kitchen was the layout. The lady who lives next door was born in this house, and her mother designed the kitchen, in 1952.

She came by and said, "Oh, yeah, it's time for an update! Back when my mom designed it, it was OK to have the fridge way in one corner, and the sink in another, and the stove way over there. Of course, we had a half-wood, half-electric stove back then..."

Yeah. So the kitchen hadn't been updated since 1952, except for new, ugly floors.

So, almost two months later, the kitchen has arrived.

Our contractor, Jennifer, kicks ass. There's no other way to put it. She's feminine and fun and shows up in a Porsche with high heels and leather-print skirts, and then comes in, changes into a T-shirt and jeans, and guts the kitchen by hand. She hauls out cabinets, lays flooring, does detailed paint work and still manages to be nice to my kids when they walk across the work area trailing crumbs.

She has muscles you wouldn't believe, mad design skill, and she took a project witn NO budget (I swear -- this is a high-end makeover on an IKEA budget,) and she made it look like we spend thousands upon thousands of dollars.

If you need anyone to do anything, from painting a bedroom mural to putting in a new bathroom, she's your go-to: http://www.jenniferryandesign.com

So, here it is, in all of it's glory, finished and ready to go:

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This is the island, made with butcherblock, with an induction cooktop. I like the induction very much. I don't like that none of the fabulous cookware I got for a wedding gift works with it. Right now I'm down to a Le Cruset Dutch Oven and a cast iron skillet. I love the farmhouse sink. I love the huge faucet. And I'm in love with the open shelving that lets me see everything I need.

My family who all live at least 500 miles away and will visit less than once a year, are freaked out by the open shelves and are very afraid that the shelves will be messy and that this will bother them.

It sure as hell won't bother me -- I'll be too busy admiring all of the good meals I've made.

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This is the other side of the kitchen. The lamps above the table are called up-and-down lights, or pendant pulley lights, and they had them in a house my family stayed in during a trip Tuscany. My aunt bought a pair while we there and never used them, so she sent them to me. And now every time I sit down, I think of Tuscany, which can only improve the mood of the kitchen.

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In the back is the baking section, with a marble countertop. Baking pans below, baking supplies above, oven right there under the counter -- everyone's getting cookies for Christmas!

I don't think I could be happier with it. A little paint, a new island, and a lot of work, and we have a kitchen that I love.

Meagan McGovern