Real kitchens of Khoollect: at home with Sonya Gellert

My London kitchen is a simple, minimally dressed space. Last year I moved to Islington from Brisbane, Australia, and I was secretly expecting my English kitchen to be a dimly lit, narrow room. (Perhaps I’d been reading too many old English novels.) To my surprise, this new-to-me kitchen is a lovely, light-filled room bordered by large windows that overlook the flowering trees of my adopted neighbourhood.

The kitchen is fairly clutter-free, and — because my growing collection of teapots and eclectic (mostly impractical) items could not be squeezed into my suitcase — I have very little kitchenware here.

Sonya Gellert Kitchen 02

Although petit, the room is ample in size for the three food-loving individuals that inhabit it. It’s the space my co-dwellers (my husband and our good friend) and I catch up at the end of the day, where we listen to music and, most nights, where we cook. Everything I need is here — all the basics. We seem to have one of everything, so the three of us tend to negotiate who needs a frying pan, who needs a colander and who needs a saucepan, for example. We’re a harmonious bunch.

The food in our kitchen is mostly plant-based. I’m a vegetarian and an avid vegetable consumer, so there’s always plenty of fresh produce on hand plus potted herbs. I’m not much of a cook, but I like to experiment with making dairy-free cheeses, pickles, preserved lemons and other savoury snacks when I get the chance. My husband often bakes bread, so you’re likely to spot a trail of flour sprinkled across the counter top of a weekend too.

I’ve almost always lived in apartments, so I’m accustomed to pottering about in fairly pokey kitchen spaces. And although the bench space isn’t too expansive in this room, we do have a small dining table nearby so we tend to do our chopping over there. Because the kitchen opens on to the living room, it doesn’t feel enclosed or boxed-in, which I love.

With three people cooking in one area, we’re often setting off fire alarms … and have even set a tea towel on fire trying to smoke aubergines.

Sonya Gellert Kitchen 03

In my old kitchen, in Brisbane, I used to enjoy drying fruit for snacks in a large dehydrator and brewing giant batches of kombucha each week. I’d have ‘SCOBY‘s in jars around the place, (even if they weren’t pretty to look at!) and a fridge full of flavoured brews. But, without the storage space here in London, and the large number of jars required to make kombucha, I’ve toned down the fermenting and dehydrating for now.

My dream kitchen would have ample shelves for cookbooks to live on, and a nice splash of colour and some patterns. In previous homes I’ve had chalkboard walls, hexagon-patterned tiles, Orla Keily wallpaper and, in one apartment, a lime-green-tiled 1950s wall. I do enjoy quirks and character in a kitchen, and would love to add a little more colour to my current home. I think my ideal kitchen would be a vibrant (albeit, tacky) 1970s-style room with splashes of orange (think The Brady Bunch home or Don Draper’s 1960s apartment in Mad Men). That said, the simplicity of my current kitchen means it doesn’t tend to look too messy or overcrowded, which is nice too.

If I’ve learnt anything from working in Rachel Khoo’s apartment, it’s that size should not deter you from making the most of a space and there’s always a way to make the most of what you have.

Share your real kitchen with us and tell us your handy kitchen hacks, by tagging @khoollect or hopping over to the forum.

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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