There isn’t really anything we don’t love about LA-based style maven Anne Sage. Her killer design eye. Her on-point lifestyle advice. Her carefully curated blog. Even the little sketches that appear when you scroll over her blog’s “Dress, Decorate, Dine, Dream” menu are a nod to her brilliant attention to detail.
In her new book, Sage Living: Decorate for the Life You Want, Anne opens the doors to her charming home, and those of several other bloggers whose homes inspire her. One of our favorite Scandinavian bloggers and authors, Sarah Britton of My New Roots, is included and can be found at home in her kitchen inside the new book’s pages. Anne is sharing this sneak peak inside the book with us – a glimpse of Sarah’s kitchen (seen here as well!) and some notes on keeping life at home in harmony…
Love has a way of prevailing against all obstacles. When a vacation romance left Sarah Britton head over heels for a tall, handsome Dane, she emigrated from Canada to Copenhagen to marry him. And when she discovered that her newly adopted country didn’t recognize her certification as a holistic nutritionist, she combined her passion for food with her undergraduate fine arts degree and started the blog My New Roots. As skillful with a camera as she is with a chef’s knife, Sarah quickly acquired a large international fan base as well as acclaim from culinary and wellness institutions alike. To meet demand for her wholesome yet visually arresting approach to seasonal fare, Sarah soon expanded her offerings to include workshops, retreats and, most recently, a cookbook – all of which she produced from the cramped kitchen in her studio apartment.
The scale of Sarah’s operation finally outgrew her space when she and her husband, Mikkel, welcomed a son, prompting them to purchase an early 1900s flat near Copenhagen’s city center. One quick look at the existing kitchen, with its drop ceiling and linoleum floors, and they knew that only a complete overhaul would give Sarah the room she needed to nurture both her growing business and her growing family. A similarly brief glance at their budget told them that in order to fulfill their vision of a kitchen as inspiring as it was functional, they’d have to do the renovation themselves. One year and countless compromises later, the couple has a space that brings to life Sarah’s philosophy that a balanced diet is one part knowledge, one part feeling and one hundred percent vitality.
Theme and Variations
Sarah enters the kitchen armed not with a set of hard-and-fast rules, but rather, with an appreciation for the therapeutic powers of foods in their natural states. Because she begins each dish with only a few unprocessed ingredients, then follows her instinct for flavor, color and satisfaction, she needed a layout and equipment that set the tone for graceful improvisation. Deep drawers beneath the counter house dry goods in clear-lidded jars for grab-and-go convenience. Sarah bypassed a hood over the stove in favor of more storage space for her extensive spice collection, which she uses to enliven the large batches of beans and grains that she soaks ahead of time. And in what would be an easy upgrade for any kitchen, a commercial pressure sprayer takes the place of a standard faucet to make cleaning a breeze. Whether she’s developing an original recipe for her readers or preparing a pot of lentils for the week, her simple but strategic setup helps Sarah compose meals that sing.
Sarah’s favorite element of the kitchen is the banquette installed in the corner. Not only does the snug dining area maximize a tight floor plan, its demeanor also perfectly reflects Sarah’s form-meets-function perspective on food. A swing-arm sconce and wall-mounted shelf of cookbooks frame the space while also rendering the nook an extension of Sarah’s workspace; many a long winter evening catches her there brainstorming menus in a circle of lamplight. A bench pad in cheerful blue-and-white gingham provides an extra layer of cushioning – plus it has the same energizing effect on the eye a garnish of parsley has on the tongue. Like the sautés, salads and smoothies that Sarah serves up, the setting feels comforting and invigorating, all at once.
A Generous Pinch of Time
The kitchen owes its clean, warm aesthetic to components not available for purchase: the patience and open-mindedness demanded of a yearlong renovation. Some details resulted from the couple’s careful negotiation of each other’s tastes, while still others fell to the irrefutable constraints of reality. A subway tile backsplash and raw wood cookbook shelf speak to Sarah’s vintage-industrial sensibility; utilitarian prefab cabinetry satisfies Mikkel’s affinity for modern lines and finishes. The near impossibility of carrying several hundred pounds of cement up four flights of stairs required Sarah to forgo her dream of concrete countertops in favor of more manageable birch. And when an exhaustive search for hardware yielded nothing the two could agree on, Sarah tapped her ingenuity and fashioned drawer pulls from strips of leather. Just as a long, slow simmer melds disparate ingredients into a product greater than the sum of its parts, the lengthy construction process yielded a unique cohesion that neither Sarah nor Mikkel could have envisioned at the outset.
Nourish with Harmony: How to Bring It Home
-Make mealtime improvisation second nature with a setup that keeps tools and ingredients well organized and that takes the pain out of cleanup. Even renters can mount storage racks and hooks inside cupboard doors, or swap an average faucet for an industrial-powered one.
-The kitchen can be a place of retreat as well as one of activity. Carve out a corner with seating, atmospheric lighting, and access to cookbooks and notepads for meal planning.
-The kitchen, like any room in your home, won’t come together overnight. Focus on achieving a level of basic function to suit your needs, but maintain an open mind that allows elements like dinnerware, hardware, and small decor to evolve over time.