Alison Wu’s office won’t look familiar to anyone with an ordinary 9-to-5 job. On any given day, you’ll find the food blogger–turned–Instagram star hard at work in her pink Portland kitchen, whipping up dishes that are as vibrant as they are nutritious. It’s here, in her personal slice of gastronomical paradise, that marble countertops double as a desk and afternoon coffee breaks consist of herbal remedies.
“It was exciting to create a space that was my own; to make it a place where I feel inspired to create. It’s my office,” says Wu.
For the past three years, the Connecticut native has been operating her blog, Wu Haus, out of her sunny Oregon home. Deconstructed soba noodle bowls, chickpea pancakes, and banana coconut maca shakes are just a few flavorful concoctions you’ll find coming out of her recently renovated kitchen—a space which effortlessly captures her mindful approach to cooking.
“Food is really medicine for our bodies,” says Wu. “It affects our mood and how we move through the world. There’s no ‘one size fits all.’ Following my intuition has been the biggest thing for my journey.”
One step inside Wu’s dreamy cookhouse and you’re instantly hungry for more.
When Wu and her husband bought their home four years ago, there was nothing not to like about the kitchen. At the same time, there was also nothing to love. “It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t dated. It just didn’t really match the aesthetic of the rest of the house,” she says.
Once the couple had the time and the budget to renovate, their first focus was to open up the room by taking down the door that closed off the butler’s pantry and wrapping the countertop around the corner for a seamless look.
Most of the work was cosmetic: adding marble countertops, coating the walls in pink Venetian plaster, swapping out the cabinetry, and bringing in a new Smeg refrigerator (her biggest splurge, in addition to the marble).
“It can be really overwhelming,” says Wu of the remodel process. Her advice for others willing to live through the chaos? “Decide on a few key details that are important to you and then build your budget around that. If you really want an amazing sink to be your centerpiece, go from there. I knew I wanted a Smeg fridge and marble countertops and some of the details, like the hardware by Park Studio.”
To spare their budget, Wu and her husband stuck with their existing oven and shopped at IKEA for cabinets but added custom Semihandmade fronts and sides for an elevated touch.
As a longtime ceramics collector, open shelves were also a must. “I love being able to see all these gorgeous handmade pieces by artists that I love and admire,” says Wu.
“When we were designing the space I was like, ‘Is this overboard?’” says Wu of having a mix of recessed lighting and pendants. “But now I’m so glad I did it. We have really bright lighting that’s great for working, and then the pendant lights are on dimmers, which is great in the morning when you want a softer mood.”
Near the prep zone that once served as the Butler’s pantry, you’ll find Wu’s “potion station”—a spice rack–esque shelving system that houses her go-to adaptogens. “I make a lot of adaptogenic drinks and different herbal potions, so I thought this would be a really cool way to display the ingredients I use. It’s super functional too—my Vitamix is in a drawer nearby,” she shares.
Ashwagandha, Reishi, and Maca are a few better-known adaptogens you’ll spot on her shelf. Wu’s advice for starting your own herbal medicine collection? Start slow. “It all goes back to following your intuition,” she suggests. “It’s always good to talk to an herbalist. It’s great to start with one or two, see how you feel after a few weeks, and go from there.”
If there’s one thing that good food and good design have in common, it’s trusting your gut.
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