Text by Elizabeth Czapski
When Molly and Jeremy Bolton discovered they were expecting their second child, they set out to find a more spacious home with the potential to put their mark on it. A quaint cottage in the Cahaba Heights area of Birmingham, Alabama, fit the bill. “The house was charming, full of character, and there was great opportunity to make it our own,” says Molly, the baker, recipe developer, and photographer behind The Nostalgic Crumb. She had particular plans in mind for their kitchen, and, teaming up with River Brook Design & Construction, they transformed the standard space into a utilitarian dream with utmost visual appeal. We chatted with Molly to get all the details on the renovation and learn how they achieved a timeless aesthetic with modern touches in a stunning yet practical space that performs for both a family of four and an at-home baking business. As an added bonus, you’ll also find some fun fall baking tips and a seasonal recipe below! For more on this kitchen, get your copy of our Autumn issue today.
The Cottage Journal: Tell us about how this kitchen renovation was customized to suit your family and your baking business and blog.
Molly Bolton: As cliché as it sounds, the kitchen really is the heart of our home. From my baking endeavors to fixing breakfast for my babies every morning to hosting friends for dinner—the kitchen is where most of our life happens.
What started off as a traditional design—think single oven, sink located in the island, conventional cabinetry—evolved to a more inspired design that brought our kitchen to life and catered to what my family and I needed. With the help of the River Brook team, the design evolved to include double ovens, an uninterrupted marble island, and floor-to-ceiling cabinets for all the storage you could dream of. To translate, I can now bake multiple batches of cookies at a time, have all the work space I could ever need, and have endless storage to house all my baking equipment. (Are 10 cookie scoops too many?)
TCJ: What were your design goals for the space?
MB: When I envisioned my “dream kitchen,” I wanted it to be functional, beautiful, and timeless. When working with the River Brook team, I often said, “I want to love this kitchen in 30 years”—and I genuinely believe I will. I hoped for a kitchen that offered modern functionality while also establishing a timeless, lived-in, and inviting atmosphere.
TCJ: What would you describe as the overall look? What was your vision?
MB: In short, I’d describe the style of our kitchen as timeless with a touch of luxe. It is simultaneously elegant and cozy, modern and classic. My overall vision was that I wanted my kitchen to make people feel at home. While this kitchen is newly renovated, it gives you a warm feeling, like it’s been lived in for decades. And I think that’s what I love most about my kitchen—it feels like a warm invitation to come in and stay awhile.
TCJ: Tell us about any special personal touches you included that make the space feel like home.
MB: There is a built-in bookshelf on the end of the island that I specifically requested. It houses all my cookbooks, including several of my late grandmother’s old cookbooks and her recipe box. I often grab her recipe box from that bookshelf when I’m in need of some inspiration.
TCJ: Can you name a couple of your favorite details?
MB: Details are what make this kitchen so unique! We chose unlacquered brass on all the pulls and knobs on the cabinetry, which will patina over time and add to that “lived-in” feel that I was going for. I also really love the glass cabinetry that houses my china—it’s a beautiful detail that really makes the space stand out. And it’s one of the things I get the most compliments about!
TCJ: Can you tell us about some of the most practical features for everyday use in the kitchen as both a baker and a mom?
MB: The island. The large island is not only my work space, but the place where I enjoy the best views. With so much space, I’m able to work creatively and efficiently developing recipes while my kids sit on the other side of the island playing or eating a snack. It’s a simple yet almost daily occurrence in our house that I will always treasure: watch mom bake while we grab a snack.
Copious amounts of storage. As a baker, mom, and housewife, my kitchen is full to the brim, and the floor-to-ceiling cabinetry offers a great amount of storage that is so helpful on a day-to-day basis. Baking ingredients, snacks, food for three meals a day, an embarrassing number of baking and cooking gadgets, and a whole host of cookbooks that I’ve collected all take residence in my kitchen. It’s also the dark, dramatic cabinetry that makes my kitchen feel so warm and inviting to me.
TCJ: Tell us about how you like to use the kitchen for fall baking. Can you share some go-to treats and tips? Would you share a favorite seasonal recipe with us?
MB: I love baking at any time of year, but fall is when baking feels the most nostalgic to me. There’s a fresh energy this time of year that reminds me of why I love baking so much. From fall flavors to enjoying something warm from the oven when it’s chilly outside, fall baking is when I feel most in my element. I especially love baking with my kids in the fall. I’m a big advocate for baking with kids. It’s a way to spend time together, create memories, and teach things like creativity and patience.
One of my favorite fall recipes is for my Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake. This was actually my late grandmother’s recipe that I adapted a few years ago, and I’ve been making it every year since. It’s everything you want in a fall-inspired dessert. Full of pumpkin flavor and warm spices, the scent from your oven alone is nothing short of autumnal bliss. This cake is incredibly moist, flavorful, and so easy to whip up. It’s a great pantry-pull recipe that’s simple to make but tastes—and looks—like a showstopper.