Improvised Life » kitchen If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:35:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Plywood Love: Bauhausian Kitchen Storage Wed, 10 Dec 2014 17:00:05 +0000

This kitchen refurb by Hearth used plywood as cabinet storage in an elemental Bauhausian way. We love geometry of the squares and rectangles, the the grain showing through the washed finish and the holes instead of handles.

…and are reminded once again the appeal of sliding panels…

via Desire to Inspire

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DIY Word-free Symbol Labels Wed, 03 Dec 2014 19:23:37 +0000

Sally Schneide

We don’t like seeing labels on things we have around the house — there’s enough advertising in our world; we don’t need it at home — so we routinely peel them off.  At the kitchen sink, we fill plain, unmarked bottles with dish soap and hand soap. Even when we had two very differently-shaped bottles, with one seeming obviously dishwashing liquid, guests would ask “Which is for hands?”.

So we decided to make a word-free sign for the hand soap. (more…)

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Hands as Tools: Ethiopian Version Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:08:19 +0000 (Video link HERE.) State-of-the art eating in Ethiopia.

Made by hand, eaten by hand.

When I was there, I don’t think I saw a cooking utensil that wasn’t either wood or clay, a rough panga for chopping beef, and a cheap plastic cup here and there for pouring. No need for Sur la Table, Williams-Sonoma or a fancy Wolf range to dine well there. (more…)

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Tomato Candy (Pilot Light Dried Tomatoes) Fri, 05 Sep 2014 08:40:48 +0000

Sally Schneider

Recently we received a trove of small plum tomatoes which are in abundance right now. Since we don't have the energy or space to can the tomatoes, we experimented with drying them in our ancient restaurant stove whose pilot lit oven is a constant 150'. We often dry our kale chips this way, and in the past have done sliced apples and pears. Why not tomatoes? Our experiments were a success. Here’s what we did. ]]> 5
Huge Linen Shirt Becomes a TeaTowel Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:36:53 +0000

Marella Consolini

This just in from our friend Marella Consolini (whose daybooks with custom covers we love):

A new improvised project! Jimmy bought a gorgeous linen shirt on eBay for pennies, that turned out to be about a hundred sizes too big. But I fell in love with the pattern and the quality of the linen. Rather than send it on to the thrift shop, I folded it up and put it in my drawer, certain that I’d eventually figure out something to do with it.

Finally it dawned on me: the back was big enough to turn into a small pillow case or a towel — yes, a linen tea towel, which I love best! (more…)

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Find: HUGE 100% Cotton Dish Towels Have Many Uses Thu, 17 Jul 2014 17:00:53 +0000

We stumbled on these HUGE dish towels and ordered a set to check out, having learned the hard way that the real thing is often way different than pictures. We washed them and…they are great, 100% cotton, wonderful-looking and useful for many things. (more…)

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Introducing Improvised Life’s New Store Thu, 10 Jul 2014 23:05:19 +0000

Over the years, Improvised Life has featured some seriously good stuff, from books about design, art, productivity and poetry to all manner of tools for making and living. Since these wonderful items have been buried in the archive, we decided to gather the BEST of them in one place, Improvised Life’s Store. (more…)

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How to Keep Cast-Iron Cookware Naturally Nonstick Mon, 16 Jun 2014 20:00:50 +0000

This image of vintage cast-iron reminded us how much we love the endlessly-useful, impossible-to-destroy cookware. We’ve been using it for years having inherited many pieces from friends or relatives. It provides the even heat of heavy copper cookware at a fraction of the cost.  We use a 10- year-old griddle to heat tortillas, small skillets to fry eggs, our classic big skillet to hot smoke salmon, and a big 12-inch Finnish Littala pan (below) to make our faux-fried bricked chicken

If properly cared for, cast-iron will build up a naturally nonstick surface that can take the place of commerical nonstick cookware, (more…)

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DIY Silverware Drainer + Dish Drainer Hack Wed, 04 Jun 2014 20:02:19 +0000

Sally Schneider

When we renovated the Laboratory, moving and installing our 25-year-old kitchen cabinets for the 3rd time, we had to also install new countertops. We choose original white colored Corian from Home Depot (the prettiest and cheapest) and treated ourselves to something we’ve always wanted: built-in dish drainer gooves that would wick water from just-washed dishes into the sink.  We want minimal and good looking when it comes to draining dishes AND silverware. Our minor obsession takes the form of NOT wanting to look at the big stainless steel dish drying rigs that are around these days.

First, we bought the lowest profile dish drainer we could fine, and ditched the tray underneath that make it look bulky. YAY. That made for nice neat lines. Then we fashioned our own silverware drainer out (more…)

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Fantasy Kitchen in a Rock Shelter Camp + Others Wed, 14 May 2014 23:00:39 +0000

A.J. Perier

We are smitten with this  c 1900 makeshift kitchen/dining area created by Perier family in the sheltered space of a giant boulder in New South Wales. It reminded us of the many makeshift kitchens we’ve created over the years, outdoors and in. Those elemental kitchens taught us that we could make an inviting space and cook well with foraged furniture, a pan or two, mismatched plates and often a single knife (the Opinel we travel with).  It was a great lesson in “bottom line” that helped us to know what we DIDN’T need when we designed our most recent kitchen in a limited space. (more…)

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Clever Storage in the Realm of Laminate Wed, 30 Apr 2014 20:00:14 +0000

Lukáš Kordík/GutGut Architects,

Our new favorite blog Moon to Moon has a swell house tour of the lightly renovated 450 square foot apartment of architect Lukáš Kordík of GutGut architects. The major takeaway for us, aside from the pleasingly UNconstructed feel of the space, is Kordík’s use of laminate. First there’s the stylish turquoise kitchen cabinet with oven and storage built in; it acts as a piece of furniture unto itself and gives a sparkly hit of color. We especially like the notched out “handles”.  Second, is the free-standing open-shelving that holds a kitchen’s worth of stuff. (more…)

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Chic, Makeshift, Unfinished Kitchen Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:03:46 +0000

This kitchen is so stylish and inviting, we’re wondering if it’s in process and unfinished OR if it’s purposely as is: walls wonderlly patterned from the removal of old storage, a clamp task light, a ladder rigged with shelves, tables as counters, a hot plate. We’ve cooked in many a kitchen outfitted this way, with great pleasure, in part due to the constraints it imposes. (more…)

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Geometric Fireplaces and Stove Hoods Mon, 21 Apr 2014 14:29:47 +0000


This image of a beautiful, VERY geometric, sculptural fireplace by Peter Harnden got us wondering WHY fireplaces and stove hoods are almost invariably rectangular boxes. We’re thinking it’s most likely due to the trickiness of getting a chimney to draw the smoke up into the chimney properly, rather then having some fly into the room. Our experience with fireplaces AND stove hoods is that it takes an experienced tradesman to be able to figure it out, whether you’re installing ready-made or special design. (more…)

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The Delishness and Connection of Collective Meals Fri, 11 Apr 2014 08:16:32 +0000

Outerlands, a restaurant in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset neighborhood, is known for its menu of seasonal food, rustic dishes and the strong sense of community created by the space. There, meals are a way for people to gather together, relax, and enjoy a shared experience.  Recently Williams-Sonoma Taste featured one of Outerland’s collective meals in which staff, family and friends cook together, making quick work of what otherwise might be a chore, all the while having time to talk and hang out. It is the opposite of “in-control entertaining” where everything is pretty much taken care of when the guests arrive. (more…)

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