Thursday Series: The Effective Kitchen, love the one you’re with…part 1.

Posted: 05/02/2013 in The Effective Kitchen, Thursday Series, Uncategorized

Welcome to the first installment of my attempt at doing some regularly scheduled programming!

In case you hadn’t already noticed, I suck at regularly scheduled programming – if you didn’t notice yet, please don’t go back and notice it now.  Let’s pretend I’m good at this. And that I’m caught up on NCIS. ‘k?

First off, let me tell you what I’m working with here –

My kitchen is kind of a weird L-shape in a 115-yr old house. When the house was built, the kitchen was square, it did not have electricity and what is now a pantry was a pump room to bring water into the house – because that was fancy at the time. Thankfully – all of that has been changed!

The L-shape comes from a bathroom that was added in at some point, so yes – I have a bathroom off the kitchen. Not what I would choose if I were designing the place, but I love my house and there’s no moving that bathroom.  When I bought it, the kitchen looked a bit like this:


For the record, that was ALL OF THE COUNTERSPACE and almost all of the cabinet space in the entire kitchen. There was only 1 more small cabinet over the stove. I was producing entire meals on the space taken up by that blue bottle in the photo – about 1.5′ x 2′. No dishwasher, so one side was constantly dedicated to a dishrack – and I’m a coffee lover, so the other side had to hold a coffee pot. I bought an extra large cutting board and put it over two of the burners on my stove to try and make more counterspace. 

On the other side of the room – the other end of the ‘L’ – NOTHING. A kinda big, completely empty space except for a radiator.

Also, the whole thing was FUUUGLY. And even if we had gotten more creative about things – there were only 3 outlets in the entire room – one each for the coffeemaker, refrigerator & stove. Priorities. Seriously folks, it was sad. BUT we made do – for 6 YEARS.  I’ll fill in a little more about how in coming weeks. But it was truly a ‘love the one you’re with’ Stockholm syndrome situation.

Thankfully we saved our pennies, gutted the entire room down to the studs and made it look a little more like this:


Complete with dishwasher and glass of wine. And a lot more of my personality.

So how – other than showing off part of my remodel – is this effective?

Well, when we had the old kitchen, a LOT of things about that room annoyed the living crap out of me. Not just the lack of counterspace or fugly cabinets. But other things – for instance, the other half of the ‘L’ where there was absolutley nothing. We kept putting different sizes of tables there. A long one up against the wall. A round one we refinished ourselves. A small square one with plants on it. Because if we found the right table, we might actually sit in there and eat, right? Wrong. No matter what table was there, it just wasn’t a room we wanted to eat in.  I’ve never been much of a fan of eat-in kitchens. I kept trying to force the space to be one because it made sense. That’s what the big space was for, right? Except that every time we put in a new table & chairs, we ate at it for about a week then we just piled on mail and receipts, the husband’s work coats, keys and lots of miscellaneous junk. Same stuff – different table.

What’s that – same stuff?

Yup, same stuff. Kept ending up in the same place over and over and over again. No matter what kind of furniture went under it or how many times I picked up a set of work overalls, looked at the husband and said ‘explain to me again why these belong in the kitchen’.  Same stuff. And the mismatch between the stuff we kept putting there v. what repository we had to put it in/on (the table) was an endless source of aggravation. Because a kitchen table isn’t built to hang coats.

Through years of trying to force that kitchen to be kitchen-like, and years of treating that kitchen as only semi-kitchenlike, I’d never stopped to ask:

What am I actually using this room for?

Most of us cook in a kitchen. But that’s not the only purpose my kitchen serves. In my house the kitchen has the door the dog runs in & out of – wet, muddy or otherwise. It’s the room where I load in groceries. The husband comes in that door and immediately drops his work coat, sundries and stops to take off his work boots.  It’s the room where I sing & dance around while I cook or do dishes. It’s the room you pass through to reach the bathroom (which has no storage and so bathroom supplies end up in the kitchen storage). It’s the room where we open some of the mail and drop receipts on the counter. It’s the room where homebrewing beer occurs.

Lots of functions that aren’t about cooking – or even eating – even if some of them are kitchen-related.

So the first step in making my kitchen more effective was to stop trying to torture it into the fixed-idea of a kitchen that The Brady Bunch ingrained in me. To stop focusing on what we think we should use the space for and HONESTLY recognize what we do use the space for.  What goes on in the room? Is it the room your kids color in? Or the place you kick off your bike cleats when you come in for a ride? Do you drop the mail on the counter every day even if there’s a basket for mail in another room by another door? Do you eat dinner over the sink even if there’s a table across the room?

Your kitchen isn’t only a kitchen. Take a good look around. Other than cooking food, what do you ACTUALLY use the space for? What goes on in there?

  1. […] Thursday Series: The Effective Kitchen, love the one you’re with…part 1. […]


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