Four years ago popular Ulster chef and News Letter columnist Paula McIntyre made the ‘‘dream move’’ to Portstewart and now lives in a ‘‘very easily cleaned’’, bijou bungalow.
‘‘It’s near a park, a short walk to the beach but tucked away from the hoards of people in the summer,’’ said Paula.
‘‘It’s compact and has an easily maintained garden.’’
Paula’s favourite room isn’t actually in the house, but is a kitchen cabin in her garden.
It’s dominated by a wooden topped island that’s perfect to clamp a pasta roller onto, roll out pastry and do general prep on.
‘‘When I’m entertaining this is the one room that people are drawn to especially – the middle island encourages conviviality.
‘‘When any of the small young people in my life visit we cook in it together (and keep the messy edible pink glitter out of the main house!).’’
Paula said it’s her favourite room because it has the feel of a holiday home.
‘‘I have my smoker and BBQ area outside and a well stocked drinks trolley.’’
Paula has all her ingredients on display - helping to inspire recipe creation.
In terms of design, Paula said she loves the look and smell of natural wood so there was no need to gild the lily in terms of decoration.
The cabin is functional with a mixture of wire deli-style shelving and wooden fittings.
Paula said the cabin is an inspirational room to cook in, design recipes and write.
‘‘But it’s also great for entertaining – so completely versatile.’’
She added: ‘‘It’s stocked with great local artisan ingredients, those that I’ve picked up from travels, and all the usual suspects like flour and sugar.’’
Paula admitted she has a weak spot for kitchen gadgets.
‘‘There’s a vac-pac machine, Thermomix blender, a dehydrator, water bath regulator, and a myriad of others – all well used every chance I get.’’
Her kitchen cabin is also home to the red Kitchenaid mixer her late granny gave her.
‘‘This is a prized possession and one I use almost everyday.’’
Whilst Paula loves her kitchen cabin, she said the only change she would make is the addition of running hot water.
‘‘But I’m working on that,’’ she laughed.
Paula is an exceptionally busy lady, travelling all around Northern Ireland and further afield sharing her culinary knowledge, but when she’s at home, she spends at least two hours every day in the cabin.
‘‘This time of year the produce for preserving is abundant so the pale pine wood radiates with pickles, spiced chutneys, fragrant quince jelly and herbs drying. The fridge in the cabin houses Kilner jars of pickles that I use throughout the year.’’
Paula said her kitchen cabin is a reflection of her personality.
‘‘Functional on the design front, nothing too fancy and hopefully a bit of fun!’’