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Belsize Park London Flat 780 | Umami Girl
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Our London flat, better late than never

Back in the salad days of August, 2011, I introduced you to our new schtick in London and promised to get back to you with a little peek into our home. Well! Hello from June, 2014. I can’t say we’re prompt, but we’re here, and that’s something.

It’s a Tuesday afternoon, which means I can still hear the echo of our weekly housecleaner closing the door behind her, which means this place is as decent as she’ll ever be. Other than that, I haven’t staged a thing. See, by way of example, that piece of nose-blown toilet paper on the floor by my kid’s feet, and the way she’s sitting there on her sick day staring blankly into an iPad while eating a lunch I didn’t even make.

All the decorative animals

I’m sure the commenters on some of those high-rollin’ interior design websites would have a thing or two to say about an unstaged photo shoot (half against, half in favor, naturally). But luckily you guys are awesome and will not complain, right? You won’t say, for example, what the heck is up with all the decorative animals everywhere? I’m just noticing that right now through your eyes, actually. I’m as much in charge of the decor as I am petrified of animals, so let’s just not discuss it, shall we?


Anyway. That table up there is where we eat our meals. It overlooks the backyard that we share with all the neighbors in the building. It’s my ideal perch for when I want to be Gratzer-outdoors, which means indoors but with the windows open.

The table itself is my life’s one real nod so far to mid-century modernism. It’s a Heywood Wakefield Harmonic Drop-leaf Extension Table that I bought for ch-zzzn-eap on eBay and made Cope drive like 300 miles in a u-Haul to pick up in rural Pennsylvania. Someday when all four of us can reliably use coasters I’ll get someone who knows what they’re doing to refinish it. Until then, it’s the perfect spot from which to yell down to the girls in the garden between sips of totally uncoastered Sauvignon Blanc.

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The kitchen

Here’s the kitchen, which I use on days unlike today, when I’m not feeding my kid a Pret a Manger sandwich for lunch. The little island is just this old guy from IKEA. It took me like a year to figure out how perfect it would be to have it there, and it really made a huge impact on functionality, storage, and comfort in the room for very little money.

I’ve noticed everyone’s talking about solid-surface backsplashes these days. The one here has held up well and been easy to clean, in case you’re curious. I’m not personally obsessed with the look, but since we’re renting here, I really can’t complain.

(Actually, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from living in London, you can always complain. It’s just that it won’t do anything.)

Belsize Park London Flat 780 | Umami Girl-11

The main living area

Here’s a look at the main living area (same room as the dining area, just from the opposite angle). If you’ve been reading for a while and are super-observant, you might notice that almost all this furniture is from our house in New Jersey, where it resided in multiple rooms.

Hence the light brown sofa both facing another sofa and butting up against a chaise. I wouldn’t have chosen this arrangement from scratch for this space, but in the end it’s been cozy and totally good enough. Hooray for totally good enough!

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Oliver’s paintings

Even though our girls are growing up quickly (they’re nine and five now, whaaaat?), we’re still in the stage where we’d rather not have any fancy-ass furniture that we have to prioritize over our own happiness.

Same goes for our art collection, though I do really love having a few pieces from local artists we know. (And I don’t just mean the kids, though they do provide the bulk of our commissions.)

These three paintings above are the work of a talented young artist named Oliver, whose family owns a neighborhood coffee house. Oliver is autistic, and he’s done dozens if not hundreds of these colorful paintings of icons of northwest London.

On the left is Oliver’s Cafe itself, then the Roundhouse Theatre in Camden, then a corner alongside Primrose Park that Cope and the nine-year-old pass every day on their walk to school.

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Acting like a coffee table

Here’s another view of the living room for good measure, since we spend a lot of time here — and so you can be sure to count all the decorative animals. Seriously, what is going on there? And hey, there’s my Bed Bath and Beyond trunk from college, which I painted from black and gold to brown and silver, acting like a coffee table that no one’s going to get yelled at for stepping on. It’s kinda perfect, I think.

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Guess whose room

Maybe you can guess which two of us live in this room. I’m a big believer in room sharing, and so far no one’s complaining. One day at a time.

You’re right, it’s the two little wild turkeys below, pictured first in 2011, and then in an attempted re-creation yesterday. It was supposed to be more obvious that the little one now wears the big one’s old raincoat, but sometimes a picture is only worth like 194 words.

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Belsize Park London Flat 780 | Umami Girl-11

The master bedroom

Here’s the master bedroom. Oh hi, old breastfeeding glider that neither kid will let me get rid of! It’s very sweet, really. And hey, it’s comfy, which is at least half the battle.

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Where Umami Girl gets made

And finally, the office, where a lot of the Umami Girl action — such as it is — gets actiony. You can see an upcoming post about oatmeal (See? Actiony!) in progress on the computer screen.

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There you have it

Okay kids, there you have it. Now go post some pictures of your own home on the internet, because it’s totally normal. See you back here with oatmeal and such one day soon.

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

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  1. There are so many ways I love this!!!! Also, I made your garlic scape pesto tonight. Rowan licked the bowl. And I took sewing lessons in honor of your sewing machine. Can you come home already?

  2. If I can ever clean my house enough to allow a housecleaner to see without gasping in horror (and complete the cleaning job) I will totally trade house pics. In the meantime, those dining room windows! Incredible!