Privilege Blog

Little House Stuffs, Big Effect


That was the scene on my kitchen counter top, until just recently. Not terribly attractive, as Mom might say.

Since my kitchen is also my living and dining room, I knew I wanted quiet replacements. We would not welcome screaming. “I HAVE SALT AND PEPPER RIGHT HERE! NO, LOOK OVER HERE, DUMMY! ON THE COUNTER!”

Since my cabinets are white, and my counters black granite and butcher block, I thought at first all the implements should be white, but, this white didn’t complement my aged melamine white. Clashing shades of neutrals, not attractive in the slightest.

Hence, a blonde wood Peugot pepper grinder, which, my goodness, if grinding dried berries can be said to be a luxury experience this surely is.


And white porcelain salt & pepper shakers from Sur la Table. I love Sur la Table, have you ever been in one of their stores? So calming, you sense they are really cooks. The “P” holds the white pepper.

Porcelain Salt & Pepper Shakers

(The salt shaker wanted its own glamour shot, from the website.)

My countertop is much happier, knowing Mom would approve. I feel a surge of glee every time I pick up the salt by its handle and shake. A little bistro nonchalance. (Note: holes are small enough that kosher salt comes out slowly.) Of course, I still keep that box of kosher salt in the cupboard, in case I have to measure some out.

But Chef Rocco DiSpirito no longer urges me to make cinnamon lamb chops, salty ones we presume, from his perch on Mr. Morton’s box.

Small stuffs.

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45 Responses

  1. Countertops are important – anything you see at least three times a day has an effect after repeated times. I sometimes decant my dishwashing liquid to a pretty pump because I don’t like seeing “fairy liquid” on the bottle.

  2. Your grinder and shakers look very elegant. I like to grind even sea salt sometime
    Small things,great difference and delight,right?
    I have white kitchen,too,and a creative chaos on the counter more than often,even my mother took something of my style :-) . But I can shut the door to the dining and living room

  3. I like Sur La Table. It’s the only place I’ve ever seen replacement cylinders for Bodum French Press coffee makers. The lip of mine got chipped.

  4. These small things we see every day make such a huge difference. That photo with your pepper grinders and the two shakers made me just break into a big ol’ happy grin. And I love going into Sur La Table, it is one of the few stores where I always feel happy.

    1. @Mardel, Huge grins for the win! Glad you feel the same way about Sur la Table – I wonder if they know they have devoted fans?

  5. Let’s see. My Kosher salt is in a large salt holder with a wooden top that I’m sure I purchsed at Sur La Table. I rarely use regular salt so it’s in the spice cabinet. Pepper. Again the same as Ina Garten and purchased from SLT.

    I’ve been trying for years to find the perfect soap and detergent dispenser for the kithen sink. It’s an ongoing search. Right now it’s a set of OXO dispensers. Not sure it it’s my last. Looking for the perfect ones.

    1. @Sandra Sallin, I’ve just started using Method cleaners, and their native containers are clear, and kind of nice.

      Hey, the photo shows up with the Amazon link!

  6. Love SLT. We finally got one here in Boise area. Yay! Also a big fan of Method products. Very nice. I regularly use their shower cleaner. Your counter is lovely. I have a Peugeot pewter set. Also attractive.

    It is very important to enjoy the everyday things.

  7. Amazing what a huge difference such a small thing can make, isn’t it? Sometimes the tiniest objects can bring the most joy.

  8. Love your solutions. I agree these seemingly small changes make a large difference in how things look, and in how we feel.

    I operate on the principle, which I consider more Italian than American, that every object we use should be beautiful as well as utilitarian. It feels restful to look around a space everything is lovely, and has an appealing story to go with it.

    I have my black pepper in a clear Peugeot grinder. To keep the pepper off the counter, I rest the mill in a Hasami Porcelain plate. Hasami is cunningly stackable dinner ware. They carry it at Mill Mercantile in SF. My white pepper is in a small metal Perfex pepper mill (pre-the P on the mill), and my Kosher salt is in a small Heath Ramekin in the color Linen so I can use pinches of salt in my cooking. I prefer that to a shaker.

    Here are sources, FYI:

    Hasami Porcelain 3″ plate:

    Heath Ceramics small ramekin in Linen:

    1. @Katherine C. James, Oh wow, Mill Mercantile has gorgeous things. Look at this jingle bell! And my brother and his wife chose Heath Ceramics for their wedding china:). Thank you so much for contributing these beautiful ideas and your sensibilities.

  9. I read a book, oh, 30 years ago by Alexandra Stoddard, with a title like “How to Have a Beautiful Life”– a bit fussier for my Sturdy minimalsim, but there I first encountered the old William Morris maxim about having nothing in your home that you do not find to be useful or believe to be beautiful–I combine both whenever possible. For example, my Weimaraner teenager ate the box the tissues came in, and I happened to have a rectangularish MicMac basket, so I laid the boxless tissues in the basket–I love it, and keep refilling it now. I will pay more for a product if it comes in a beautiful container, and I stow everything else out of sight.

    1. @Kathryn Fenner, Ah, you are 30 years ahead of me. So much to look forward to in this process. I’d never heard of MicMac baskets – a Native American tradition I see. Thank you for the reference.

  10. I have a very similar pepper mill – light maple Peugeot. Mine is taller, though, and I like that it holds a lot. I really want the Perfex mill because of the little door on the side for easy filling, but $200 for a pepper mill seems too much. We don’t have a SLT, only Williams Sonoma. The first SLT I went into was in Las Vegas of all places where I bought several Chico bags.

  11. I forgot to mention, I actually keep a larger portion of salt by my stove in a white Emile Henry salt pig, but I don’t have it where I’m staying because my house host, an enthusiastic and expansive cook, accidentally broke mine. I bought it at Sur La Table, which is agree is a wonderful spot. Bumble Ward has the same salt pig in red. I’ll buy another when I’m back in a place of my own. Here is a link to it:

  12. While I haven’t graduated to beautiful dish soap containers, I do have a gorgeous salt container (olive wood, my mother gave it to me at my wedding shower) and a wooden pepper mill that was also a gift. The salt holder, in particular, makes me happy every time I see it. I keep it filled with really good salt: flaky Maldon sea salt or (currently) Yucatan sea salt from Rancho Gordo.

  13. When I make improvements like this I breathe such a sigh of relief, and a little frisson of pleasure when I reach for my new tools. Good choice(s), Lisa.

  14. I agree that everything in one’s home should be utilitarian and beautiful. Down to my can opener. I use a lot of handmade wood containers for things in the kitchen, which I find pleasing to look at and also to hold in my hands. My kitchen is also open to the dining room and living room, but even if it weren’t, I’d feel the same. Nice salt and peppers.

    1. @kathy, Thank you. I don’t keep much out on the counters, not a lot of space, so what’s there I have to like. Now I am curious about your can opener!

  15. I love a project that cleans up the visual details. Those small things, an unsightly package of something always in view, I believe that they are a constant underlying irritation.
    Your choices are perfect for your kitchen. I have a blue Peugeot for grinding coarse salt and a large wooden one for pepper. Such nice tools to use on a daily basis. xo

    1. @DaniBP, I think you are right – underlying irritation, and worth getting rid of bit by bit by piece. I am really enjoying finding out that so many people own the Peugot grinders. I like having company:).

  16. Thank you for showing me the Peugot grinder. It reminded me how wonderful my mother’s pepper grinder felt in my hand and now I must have one. I didn’t even realize I needed it! I like your wooden choice better than the white version,by the way.

  17. I too have used Peugot pepper grinders in the kitchen for years and I’ll guarantee your pepper grinding will never be the same again. Kosher salt is a favorite too, kept in a small custard cup atop the stove shelf for easy pinching during cooking – right on hand and convenient.

    It is always the little upgrades that make a world of difference leaving you wondering why on earth you hadn’t thought about them sooner.

    Happy shakin’ and grindin’.

    1. @Chronica Domus, “It is always the little upgrades that make a world of difference leaving you wondering why on earth you hadn’t thought about them sooner.” So I am learning. A-shakin’ and a-grindin’ indeed.

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