August 26, 2009

Kitchen Contemplations

Those Amish cabinets really inspired me to begin to organize my thoughts about my kitchen. As I've been living with it, I've been contemplating what I like and what I'd like to change. Because of my summer kitchen, I haven't done a lot of cooking in it so far, but I am getting a feel for the needed work and traffic flows.

Here's what I like:
  • current set-up is pretty good - (click on floorplan to enlarge)

  • This is how my kitchen is set up currently.

  • having the sink by a window

  • having lots of storage space in the cabinets
  • the peninsula
  • the little shelf unit on the wall between the stove & peninsula (needs to be bigger)
  • the high ceilings
  • the beadboard
  • the beam on the ceiling

  • The entire kitchen is paneled with beadboard.
  • having a breakfast nook

  • the back door leading out to the laundry/mud room/ summer kitchen area
  • the jelly cabinet near the breakfast area to store cereal, crackers, chips, kitty treats, & vitamins
  • the herb cabinets next to the back door

  • the pantry
Here's what I don't like:
(You can refer to the above photos for most of this)
  • odd, L-shape of the room. (see floor plan) With 3 doors & 2 windows it's a challenge to figure out where to place appliances & cabinetry and keep work & traffic flow logical.
  • the large single basin sink - it may be okay if one uses the dishwasher, but for those of us who don't, washing dishes is a drag. Either it takes too much water to fill the sink, or there's no place to keep the dishpan (under sink area already full with trash can & compost bucket)
  • the dishwasher - takes up valuable storage space
  • the window by the sink is too high - I can't see the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, & cats on the ground as well as I'd like
  • the wall cabinets (above the stove and peninsula) are too high off the floor - I can only reach most of the bottom shelf and part of the 2nd without a ladder. The upper shelves are a great place to store empty canning jars however
  • having to leave that unaesthetic ladder in plain view, just to be able to get to those shelves. Well, I don't have to leave it there. I could put it someplace else!
  • the cabinet doors above the stove & peninsula are difficult to get to
  • the location of the breaker box (on the wall behind the stove)
  • no hood/vent for cooking
  • the ceramic tile floor - partly because the grout is grody looking, loose, & coming out in little pieces. Also because I'm a klutz and I drop things frequently. It was already cracked in several places before we moved here and I think I made it worse. Plus, it never seems to feel clean on bare feet.
  • the refrigerator is too small (would make a good 2ndary one for extra stuff)
  • that 6x6 post in the middle of the above photo. It interferes with the entrance from the back porch
  • having white walls and white cabinets (too much whiteness)
Workstations I need:
  • Bread making
  • baking - room to mix & roll out dough
  • canning
  • Clean-up
  • Coffee making
  • cooking
  • dehydrating
  • Food prep: washing, chopping, peeling, etc
  • Tincturing
  • juicing
  • Planning center
  • Serving center
  • Yogurt making
Equipment & small appliances which need easy access homes
  • bread machine
  • coffee maker
  • coffee grinder
  • meat grinder
  • slow cookers (I have 2, different sizes & shapes for different uses)
  • juicer
  • blender
  • tincture press
  • grain mill (currently still packed away)
  • mixer
  • electric skillet
  • waffle maker
  • toaster/convection oven
  • food dehydrator
  • canners - 2 pressure (1 lg, 1 sm) & water bath
Ideas (random, still in contemplation mode):
  • the tall ceilings are ideal for racks to hang pots, pans, herbs, onions, etc.
  • need to hang cooking utensils & tools too. Where?
  • get a larger frig and move current one for extra produce & dairy
  • move circuit breaker box to pantry, behind the door (if possible)
  • eliminate dishwasher for increased storage space
  • double sink, a deep one
  • hardwood floor?
  • lantern looking sconces for kitchen sink lighting
  • put those too-tall cabinets somewhere else
  • wall cabinets need to be easier to reach. Could still have cabinet units to the ceiling, and use the upper ones to store empty canning jars to get them out of the pantry.
  • wall cabinets by the sink
  • new cabinetry stained to match the kitchen table & stools
  • replace little white shelf unit with taller, wider shelves against the wall between peninsula & stove
  • move new frig to left of sink, where dishwasher is now
  • move kitchen table & stools to where frig currently is. Need wall cabinet or bookshelf above these, for cookbooks & to do meal planning at the kitchen table
  • put trash can at end of peninsula, hidden in bottom hinged pull down door
  • pick up theme and color scheme from Amish cabinets for curtains, rugs, placemats, napkins, kitchen linens, & countertops, tile backsplash, etc
  • put stove in summer kitchen for canning and get a wood cookstove for the kitchen (my dream cookstove is a Waterford Stanley, not that I could afford one.) Still considering where to put it - perhaps move the herb cabinets and put it by the back door???
As you can probably see, I still have a long way to go before I figure all this out. One of these days though, it will be crystal clear in my mind. When that finally happens, progress will begin.

Kitchen Contemplations copyright August 2009 


Renee Nefe said...

it almost sounds as if to get what you want, you might have to rip everything out and start over. At least you have the summer kitchen to use if and when you do that.

I agree with you on the items you don't like about your kitchen. I'm only 5'2" so those super high cabinets wouldn't work for me at all.

Woolly Bits said...

it's fun to read through your needs and ideas! I would like to change some parts of my kitchen as well, but I have to say that somehow I became used to most "faults" over time....I have a waterford stove (though without the side parts and tops) - so I should be partially happy at least:)) I would like to have a rack hanging under the ceiling as well - though our ceilings are far too low:( not over the cooker though - the grease from cooking makes cleaning there extremely annoying... (talking from experience:)) I hope you'll manage to work out a few of your ideas without major efforts and costs!

Julie said...

I can't wait to see how it all turns out. But yes you do need color, I love color! And I love my shorter cabinet for rolling out my pie dough and making bread!

Theresa said...

Leigh, can you do a simple floor plan of just the kitchen for posting, maybe in scale??? I don't want too much huh? As to the post in the middle of the floor there. While load bearing, I am sure the header can be beefed up, and while it might be lower with a big carrier beam there, they provide a great place to hang drying herbs/flowers, and of course garlic braids and such. If you can do most upgrades yourself, paying to have this one thing done might be a good investment indeed since that support will always be something you have to plan around otherwise. The cabinetry is lovely and while too high, it might be repurposed elsewhere in the room or, buy a pretty library type ladder and live with it, assuming you have the room. I'm short so all upper cabinets are too high and keep a folding stool for reaching purposes. We use the dishwasher sporadically, but I would never be without one and while you don't use it and may want to put storage in there, make it so you can change it back by leaving the connections. If you ever want to sell, and I know it won't be for a long time, but for many a dishwasher is a must.

Leigh said...

Renee, you are probably right. I think it will be a major undertaking once we get to it. That's one reason why I want to make sure I have the plan figured out down to every spoon and hot pad!

Bettina, interesting how different an Irish kitchen is! I know all about cleaning up the grease from cooking! Do you not have any type of ventilation for the stove?

Julie, a lower cabinet for rolling out is a good idea. I'm used to doing it on the 35 inch cabinets, but a little lower would be better. (And for grinding grain with my hand mill too.)

Theresa, I've added a floor plan just for you. :)

DH took a look at the attic above the kitchen. I can't recall everything he described (lack of construction experience), but evidently the post had to be put there because they messed something up in the attic. He says it can definitely be beefed up so that we can eventually remove the post.

I think if those too-tall cabinets were lower, it would help. I'm not sure if we'll do that in the kitchen, or use them elsewhere. If they stay in the kitchen, I plan to replace the doors.

Good point about the dishwasher. I never use on and this one isn't hooked up correctly, so that would have to be fixed. In one of the kitchen remodeling books I got from the library, I saw a kitchen where someone had removed the dishwasher and put large roll-out shelves in its place. I would do that at the very least! However, at the moment, I'm pondering putting the frig there.

I'll have to draw a second floor plan for my revised, envisioned kitchen, once I figure it out. :)

Victor Tabbycat said...

Victor's mom here ;-) Our kitchen has high cabinets, too, so I put in extra shelves that stand on the 1st and 2nd shelves, essentially doubling the shelving space within my reach. Rubbermaid calls them "shelf helpers". We store dinner plates, for instance, on the real shelf, then smaller plates are stacked above them, on the rubberized metal shelf. Since they are smaller than the real shelves, we still have room for taller things within reach. They're not beautiful but reduce my ladder time!
~ Tabbymom Jen

Victor Tabbycat said...

PS Hubby and I realized in our 2nd apartment that one of the keys to our marital bliss is: A DISHWASHER. The electric skillet, on the other "paw", is never used. Probably because regular pans go in the dishwasher while that's sink-wash only.
Kitty story: When we first installed hooks to hang some pans above a doorway, Bonnie Underfoot crept fearfully under them, eying the pans like some unwelcome invaders. It took a few days for her to get used to them there.

Flower said...

I am impressed with all the thought you have put into..the kitchen and everything! Years ago I had a Waterford (they have gone up in price) and loved it. I did not cook in it much...due to small children and running them to school, time contraints etc. It did heat the kitchen up very nicely. Your dreams are attainable..keep at it! Summer kitchens are the best!!

Sharon said...

Not hardwood floors in the kitchen. I see you use your blog to make notes to yourself too.

Theresa said...


Thank you for the plan. I have a few thoughts but they aren't complete since I can't actually stand in there.
The first is to indeed beef up the carrier beam and remove that post. What a pain it is! Looking at the layout I would eye configuring the kitchen to a U there in that area with shelves and peninsula, maybe moving the fridge to where the shelves are and putting those shelves ( how deep are they?) on a floor to ceiling arrangement where the fridge is. It would bother me no end to not have the peninsula stop where the wall on the other side of the swinging door is. Are you keeping the actual door there between the dining room and kitchen? A smaller peninsula might allow for a lovely rolling butcher block in the center, across from the sink.
The fridge can also be moved to where the dishwasher is, it's a matter of swinging the taps in the rear to the other side of the sink and leaving them should someone want a DW. They can live unused in the rear of the cabinet just stubbed off.
By shortening your peninsula and moving the fridge you could probably get a big farm table in there, assuming the post is gone too. This would serve as a hub for prep, a place to eat etc. and if you get stools you can place them under the table completely for ease of flow, although the door to the addition might be a problem. LOL, wonder what it would cost to put in a pocket door freeing up the swing space?
Anyway, there are just some thoughts and ideas. No matter what you come up with it will be charming and efficient! :-)

Leigh said...

Jen thanks so much for visiting this blog. The support from the Cat Blogosphere since Catzee's disappearance has really been a God-send.

That's too funny about Bonnie! I love those kinds of stories.

It's also funny how different kitchen items are important (or not important) to different folks. I use my electric skillet all the time!

Flower, why did you get rid of your Water ford? They have skyrocketed in price. Unless I can find a good deal on a used one, that part of my plan will remain a dream.

Sharon yes! My blog is the best place for making notes to myself.

Theresa, I appreciate the ideas! At this point we are planning to keep all the doors as is. I am already considering putting the frig where the dishwasher is and then using that spot for the table and stools. My "problem" is where to put the stove. If I can get a woodburning one, the best place to put that would be by the back door, where the herb shelves are now. In that case I'm considering a cooktop for quicky cooking, or maybe just using my hot plate. I need to draw out another plan! Then too, I just found a butcher block cabinet on wheels, on Craigslist. That may change everything! Good thing I'm not in a hurry to get this project done. :)

bibliotecaria said...

One thought I've been having in relation to my kitchen redo (still a dream, not a reality) is to make sure that I use either cork tile or cork underlayment for the floor. Since cork is very good for standing on, and the kitchen is one of the areas where you stand the most, a comfortable floor for standing that doesn't require those rubber mats is wonderful.

MiniKat said...

When you need a break from all of the frantic everything, check this blog out.

Leigh said...

Bibliotecaria, that's a good idea. You're right, it does make the legs tired to have to stand in the kitchen for a long time. Also, I'm glad someone else is still in the dreaming stages. :)

Minikat, thanks for the link! This looks like a blog I'll want to vist time and time again.