Hey, y’all! Yep. The title kinda gave it away. We’re building a test kitchen at Chinaberry, too. But let’s back up…
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, my wife, Heather, and son, Jack, and I are building a house! You can catch up by checking out the announcement post and by reading all about the house plans as well. That should get you caught up.
So what’s all this business about a test kitchen? Well, a few years back after working from home for a while, I realized that working from home just wasn’t for me. I’m too easily distracted. I was checking the mail, weeding the flower beds, etc. – all the things that kept me from working. So, I knew I needed a dedicated space to spend my days working on the blog. I wanted a place where I could walk in the door and turn my brain to recipes and photography and know that was my focus there. In turn, it also needed to be a space that allowed me to get things done and turn my “work brain” off when I walked out the door, too.
So we found an amazing space in the quaint little downtown area of our town and made it my Southern Bite test kitchen. It’s where I do all my Southern Bite work and shoot all the video content you see. You can read all about that right here.
One night as we were talking about the future and the Chinaberry House, I casually mentioned how it would be cool if I could have my test kitchen there as well. It would be so handy to have that separate space but also have it so close to the house. I could literally walk to work every day. It would be a place where Ella, our dog, could go to work with me every day. And it would be a great space to entertain in, if we ever wanted to. We both pretty much dismissed the idea as probably being too expensive. But the idea just kept lingering. What if…
Heather came home one day and said, “You know, with what you’re paying in rent and electricity and all downtown, maybe building a new test kitchen with the house might not be the worst idea after all.” It still seemed out of reach, but we set out to put some more serious thought into what a new test kitchen might look like and how we’d like it to function.
Looking at the cost to own versus cost to rent, it really made more sense to own – especially with interest rates being so low. So we met with our builder – I’m going to introduce him and his wife to y’all soon – and really started putting some serious stock into the idea. He suggested we meet with a local architect to see how we might be able to design an efficient space that would accomplish all our goals but also not cost an arm and a leg.
We then met with Chip Hudson with Hudson Home Designs and started working on a plan. He took the time to understand my business and the uniqueness of having a kitchen that is both functional and attractive for photos and video. Within a few weeks we had arrived at this quaint little cottage that is all of those things combined – attractive, functional, efficient, and most of all, cost effective. Let me walk you through it…
To start, being able to meet with the builder and architect at the same time was a huge benefit for us. We were able to talk through the costs of various elements and make smart decisions. We decided that about 1,000 square feet would give me all the space I needed. And being that building up is most cost effective than building out, we opted for a two-story design.
My kitchen and studio will be on the main floor with a small half bath and a storage and pantry area. We’ve planned for lots of natural light on the main floor with lots of large windows and doors and even a 12 foot sliding glass door across from the kitchen. This will provide great north-facing light which will be amazing for food photography.
My office and more storage will be upstairs. While we wanted to avoid multi levels on the main house, it made sense here with the test kitchen from a cost perspective. And while we do plan for this to be our forever home, we have to think super long term and resale, so we were advised by our builder and architect that including a full bath would be great as the test kitchen would then double as a guest house in the future. Just typing the words guest house makes me feel like I need to be sipping tea out of a fancy porcelain cup with my pinky finger up, but I’m more of a sweet tea in a clunky mason jar kinda guy.
Overall, the exterior design will match that of the main house and that large porch on the right side will open into the back yard of the house.
We are crazy excited about being able to include this in the plans for Chinaberry. It’s seriously a dream come true. But somehow, it still doesn’t seem real.
One of the things that I’m also really excited about is to include y’all in the design of the test kitchen. From early on, Heather and I both acknowledged that we wouldn’t be able to build this test kitchen if it wasn’t for all the folks that visit SouthernBite.com each week and make it such a success, so we wanted to be able to share some of the decision making process with y’all. In the coming weeks, I’ll be reaching out to get y’all to help pick out things like colors, flooring, etc. Seriously, you get to help design this bad boy! This is going to be so fun! Y’all stay tuned…