4 Style and Layout Secrets to Steal from Samin Nosrat’s Kitchen

published Jun 12, 2023
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Samin Nosrat's shed before renovations began.
Credit: Mariko Reed

When Samin Nosrat decided to renovate her studio kitchen in early 2020, she needed a space that was as functional as it was beautiful. As a James Beard award-winning cookbook author, food columnist, and star of the Netflix series Salt Fat Acid Heat, Nosrat had a keen eye for that oft-requested balance, and hired the boutique architecture firm Young America Creative for the job. Her reasoning was simple: This firm specializes in coffee shop architecture, and Nosrat’s studio was about the size of a shed. She knew the team could maximize square footage for everyday experimenting and occasional entertaining, all while making the design feel cozy and colorful. 

Credit: Mariko Reed

“I wanted something well-equipped without the feeling of a commercial test kitchen,” Nosrat tells Apartment Therapy. 

In the year since the project was completed, Nosrat has cooked up countless feasts and invited loved ones over for tastings (how lucky are they?). And while she knows it was a tall order to fit so much into such a tight footprint, she’s still elated about the results. “Meghan and Brian, along with all of the wonderful artisans they brought along on the journey, managed to create [a warm and inviting feel] for me despite many, many constraints,” Nosrat says.

Even if you don’t have Nosrat’s cooking skills just yet, it is possible to recreate a stunning kitchen in a similarly small space. Here are the four takeaways she learned from the experience. 

Credit: Mariko Reed

Focus on efficiency and flow. 

Every inch of the studio was up for debate, but the skylight that shed rays throughout the room had to stay. Meghan Dorrian, the co-founder of Young America Creative, looked to complement the warmth from above with equally inviting appliances and fixtures below. So, even though she’s an expert in industrial kitchens, Dorrian knew that this was no place for stainless steel

“Instead we focused on the efficiency of layout and flow, drawing from our experience working with those kitchens,” she says.

Credit: Mariko Reed

Design to your strengths. 

As much as Dorrian and co-founder Brian Friel were spearheading the reno, they weren’t making decisions on their own. “Samin was involved in every step of the process, contributing her keen eye and attention to detail,” Dorrian notes. “She has a strong understanding of which materials work best for her.”

There was a need for baking racks on wheels and open shelves for stacked pots and pans, plus a spot for a stand mixer and a wide refrigerator. All of that is expected, of course. But the style details, the things that personalize the room — that’s where Nosrat’s input can be particularly felt. For instance, she envisioned a backsplash as vibrant as tropical water — a shade so enticing that someone wouldn’t mind splashing into it themselves. The team ordered around 20 different tiles “to get it right,” as Dorrian says, and planned the rest of the neutral features around what Nosrat chose. 

Credit: Mariko Reed

In a small space, keep materials to a minimum.

“We wanted to avoid introducing too many materials, as the space was small, so we chose maple to complement the turquoise tile and make both stand out,” Dorrian explains. The blonde brick that creeps up the rest of the main wall also does its part to blend in, while adding another layer of texture. 

Credit: Mariko Reed

As for the other details — mainly how Nosrat would comfortably cook in a small footprint — the team was very intentional about all the little ways she’d get around. “We aimed to provide as much storage as possible without making the space feel cramped,” Dorrian says. There’s a custom drip rack for dishes above the sink and another one for pots that are dry and ready for use. If Nosrat needs another tool, she has a brass rail hanging along the main prep counter. “And in addition to open shelves that accommodate various vessels, there’s also a full-height pantry and the world’s sexiest fridge,” says Dorrian.

Credit: Mariko Reed

Don’t forget to make space for guests.

Because serving loved ones underscores a chef’s hard work, the team granted Nosrat’s request for a sitting area off to the side. The “diner-style” banquette is separated from the kitchen with a small half-wall, which is cleverly covered in matching turquoise tiles, and can hold a select group of tasters. Oh, and when they’re not around, Nosrat can use the table as a landing pad for in-season produce.