Ina Garten may be known for her 13 cookbooks, award-winning show The Barefoot Contessa, and extra large pandemic Cosmopolitans, but the celebrity chef also has a great eye for design. If you’ve ever watched her cooking shows, you likely noticed that her kitchen is far more than just a utilitarian space; it looks like something straight out of a Nancy Meyers movie set.
She built her 2000-square-foot “barn kitchen” (which acts as a dedicated recipe-testing space and the official set for The Barefoot Contessa) next to her primary East Hampton residence. The mostly neutral space features creamy white cabinets, open shelving and inky black limestone countertops. But even with a restricted color palette, it’s far from boring: a plaster fireplace, wooden ceiling beams, cozy touches like lamps and colorful artwork, and plenty of antiques make the space feel warm and welcoming.
In her panel at the Antiques & Gardens Show of Nashville, Garten said she loves “pairing old things with modern things” in her home. When asked about her favorite design elements, she listed two very specific things in her kitchen barn (fittingly, one old and one modern): her 18th-century Swedish farm table and her cookbook library.
She says the antique Swedish farm table is “really long.” She adds, “It’s, like, I don’t know, 18 feet long or something. It’s just a simple pine table.” In an interview with Oprah Daily, Garten says the table doubled as her office during the pandemic—and it’s a space where she often writes down recipes and inspiration for her cookbooks.
And speaking of cookbooks, she has an enviable collection of tomes from other chefs and specialty food store owners. She says, “I built the kitchen because I needed to work here, but I never built a place for all the cookbooks that I have…which is ridiculous.” She adds, “About five years later, I built on a sitting room and a library behind this wall and just put arm sofas and bookcases everywhere.”
She says the cozy space is where she also houses her “ridiculous collection of white cake stands.” She adds with a laugh, “I can’t help myself, when I see one I have to buy it. I probably have like 30 of them.”
Garten is quick to note that she doesn’t just collect the cake stands because they’re beautiful: “I don’t like things that are decorative.” She adds, “I use them all. And they look good out, but they’re not just decorative.”
She tells Oprah Daily that she frequently seeks out antique cake stands in Europe. “We love to visit Belgium, and whenever we go, there's a couple antique stores I always stop at—which means I end up buying six cake stands here and three more there.”
Thankfully, she has plenty of storage in her cookbook library for her growing collection. We just want to know: When can we come visit?
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