Maggie and Nathan’s Biroschak’s kitchen is filled with ghosts.
Not pot-rattling poltergeists or cuddly Caspers, but the ghosts of objects past. Walking through the newlywed’s house, there is a bright lobster themed ’60s key-party bowl here, a grey vintage filing cabinet there, and old window with chipped paint on the wall.
“I think about who lived in the house before,” said Maggie. “There are echoes… things have a story—a history.”
The newlyweds have lived in Old North Columbus for six years. Around the corner from Ace of Cups and a hop, skip, and a jump from Dick’s Den, many of Maggie’s stories start with the phrase “after an unintentional party.” A small house, shaded by a tangle of bushes and trees, the kitchen itself is an addition, albeit an old one. Lined with dark wood cabinets against dark wood walls, there are unique thrifted pieces peeking out from cubbies and lined up on shelves. A collection of milk glass stands out in its opaque virtuousness.
“We call it the dilapidated gypsy wagon kitchen,” she said, “a hobo kitchen.” And she knows from hobo. For years, Maggie, a local educator, and Nate, a manager at Paradise Garage, hopped trains around the continent. Like their impromptu travels, the couple has picked up bits and pieces, here and there.
Canned tomatoes stand on a counter, ready for storage, while an array of boxes affixed to the wall showcase favorite pieces. Maggie lightly runs her fingers over the objects, like a librarian walking the spines of favorite books…
“I really got into cooking in my ‘20s when I discovered the peace and artistry of it. It’s
almost like meditation for me; my arms are moving separate from me and I can just think.”
“This was my first antique, it’s a music stand that I use for cookbooks.”
“This is a cactus that lived in my friend’s pocket for five days; we call it our lucky cactus.”
“This is my grandmother’s KitchenAid mixer—it was her last one, one of many… from the time her kids were little, she made batches of chocolate chip cookies and would pack them in these tins with the most generic contact paper as a liner…she sent them to everyone, even had them shipped to Japan when my father was overseas.”
On the counter is her latest find—an ornate silver butter dish that opens on a hinge, like a shiny gaping mouth revealing the smooth pale yellow stick of fat. “We call it the butter mansion,” she smiles. Sharing space with a rainbow horseshoe created by local artist Chrissy Mather, the butter mansion fits right in, a Park Avenue foil to the colorful, repurposed object.
Moving amongst the well-curated collection, Maggie cooks, whipping up a simple dinner or fashioning a fondue party for friends.
“I grew up with my dad and for him, cooking was basically canned vegetables in rotation… I really got into cooking in my ‘20s when I discovered the peace and artistry of it. It’s almost like meditation for me; my arms are moving separate from me and I can just think.”
Myko, a grey-striped kitten that is new to the family, plays with balls of twine at our feet while Maggie finishes the tour. A plate hanging on the wall advertising the 1982 World’s Fair in Kentucky is one of the few mementos that hint at the Tennessee native’s history.
“My family, there’s not a lot of history there, so I am creating it in my space,” she said. “We moved around all the time, so this kitchen to me is nesting. I’m making it so it feels like a home, for me and my friends… I love having people over… I want my space to bring comfort and joy.”
“When I think of my kitchen, my house, my life even, the Latin term “ars memoriae” or the “art of memory” come to mind,” she explained. “The art, both in the sense of the creative and the crafted—the constructed. So my house is a creative outlet, a place where I am mindful of leaving a legacy of artifacts that speak of Nathan and I and something that our future generations will tell stories about… as in, ‘Oh, this is grandma’s milk glass. Boy, was she ever nuts.’”