Inside Katie Johnson's Vintage-Inspired Kitchen in Central Phoenix

Welcome to my kitchen, Phoenix.
Welcome to my kitchen, Phoenix.
Katie Johnson

Kitchen tours is Chow Bella's monthly series where we get up close and personal with the at-home chef's most prized space. Ditch the grocery list and forget the recipes, this time around we're all about capturing a different kind of taste.

Entertaining a few guests is hard enough. But inviting the entire internet into your private abode? That'll take some coaxing.

Which is why I'm initiating things with a tour of my own private interior in my home in a historic neighborhood in central Phoenix. It's not grand but it's also not god-awful. It gets the job done and, whether I'm using it to create culinary magic or malpractice, it is easily one of my favorite rooms in the house.

So what do you say, Phoenix? I'll show you mine, if you show me yours.

I like to keep my kitchen as bright and as colorful as possible, so that when my cooking experiments fail, I don't feel so depressed.
I like to keep my kitchen as bright and as colorful as possible, so that when my cooking experiments fail, I don't feel so depressed.
Katie Johnson

See also: 10 Best Doughnuts in Metro Phoenix

My mother is a talented cook. Sadly, I did not inherit this gene. I did however acquire her skills for setting the stage. While my kitchen may not produce as many gourmet meals as the next, it serves as the perfect setting to hold two amateur cooks, one hundred pound dog, and the occasional dinner guest.

A tisket and tasket... We keep all our shit in baskets.
A tisket and tasket... We keep all our shit in baskets.
Katie Johnson

When your kitchen is only seven and half feet wide (not unusual for a house built in 1941), compromises must be made. To make my quaint kitchen look bigger than it actually is, we rely heavily on light and white. The white subway tiles, white walls, and white marble countertop give off the impression that room is more substantial than it actually is while simultaneously giving the room a clean look (even if that isn't always the case).

We wanted to give the narrow room as much space as was possible so we turned to local metal artist Bruce Fortner to create a kitchen counter base that had a very open framework. There are no cabinets or draws. Instead, we organize all of our kitchen belongings into baskets and conceal the miscellaneous under-the-sink items with a curtain made of painter's cloth.

We keep things open above the counter as well with floating shelves that expose my love, nay obsession, with mid-century Pyrex and glassware. I believe that tchotchkes (in moderation) can not only break up the monotony of practical kitchenware but also give your space some much needed personality. Hence, you'll find little items such as an old Bob's Big Boy bank and an old clock (that, sadly, doesn't not work but remains from the original owner) tucked between dishes and dish soap.

Bob is sort of my year-round Elf on the Shelf.
Bob is sort of my year-round Elf on the Shelf.
Katie Johnson

Speaking of soap, I like to keep mine in an old soda bottle. Most antique glassware needs to be hand washed and if the soap isn't in immediate arm's reach, those dishes are not getting clean. To keep things interesting, the pop bottled dish soap and the sponge sit in an old wooden Kraft cheese box.

The box is just one of many repurposed items in the kitchen. The chalk for the chalkboard walls at either ends of my kitchen sits in an old peanut butter tin. The baking dishes and chopping boards rest on a vintage yellow bar cart. The "table" for guests to sit at while I work in the kitchen is my grandmother's old chopping block, sandwiched between two retro diner chairs. The trash can is an old metal garbage receptacle from a gas station and features a friendly service man on the front.

The refrigerator however is a different story. Despite having that vintage look on the outside, it's actually brand new (well, at least it was when I bought in 2009). It's made by a company called Big Chill, which specializes in retro ranges, refrigerators, dishwashers, even microwaves -- all available in a variety of colors.

What isn't stored in my mammoth modern ice box is kept in the pantry. If you thought the kitchen was tiny, the pantry could hardly be considered its own room -- in truth, it's really just a short hallway leading to the backdoor. To make the most of the miniature space, we converted old metal milk delivery crates into shelves.

(Note: when you buy a historic home from a hoarder, you've basically hit the antique jackpot.)

The Big Chill is no understatement in this small kitchen.
The Big Chill is no understatement in this small kitchen.
Katie Johnson

Since once again, our edible belongings are very much exposed, we try to keep everything organized with the help of clean yet simple mason jars. Appearance is everything when the interior of your house is on display as much as ours, so we try to keep the room dolled up with fresh fruit, fresh flowers, and hand-stitched tea towels hanging over the oven.

While my kitchen may not be a microdwelling, it certainly makes for some interesting crowd work. And yet, I wouldn't have it any other way. I think its vintage aesthetic pairs nicely with its size and, whether I'm baking cookies, burning dinner, or more likely opening a bottle of wine, I never get tired of admiring this little labor of love.

Now please, enjoy these photographic leftovers.

There is nothing mellow about this yellow.
There is nothing mellow about this yellow.
Katie Johnson
Fact: you can never have too much vintage Pyrex.
Fact: you can never have too much vintage Pyrex.
Katie Johnson
Please, have a seat.
Please, have a seat.
Katie Johnson
Is there anything a mason jar can't do?
Is there anything a mason jar can't do?
Katie Johnson
The design on these midcentury tumblers is well worth the hand washing.
The design on these midcentury tumblers is well worth the hand washing.
Katie Johnson
If you have a great great aunt who sends you hand-stitched tea towels, stay on her good side.
If you have a great great aunt who sends you hand-stitched tea towels, stay on her good side.
Katie Johnson

Want us to show off your kitchen? Contact Chow Bella editor Amy Silverman at amy.silverman@newtimes.com

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