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My kitchen is open ...

Posted Oct 26 2012 1:52pm
There were times, especially two summers ago, when I may have been addicted to HGTV. I watched remodeling, re-gardening, re-decorating and house-hunting shows with alarming regularity. I was obsessed. After a while, though, there were certain words and phrases that I noticed popping up all the time, that were starting to grate on my nerves. If you watch HGTV, you know exactly what I mean. "Open-concept," "ensuite with double sinks," "granite counter tops with stainless steel appliances." "This kitchen needs updating," the house-hunters would whine. "The ensuite only has one sink." "Eewww," they would moan, "white appliancesso 80s." Our house in Wisconsin was built in 1916. It didn't have an ensuite with two sinks. The kitchen, which we remodeled when we bought the house, had white appliances by choice. Open-concept? Ha! No open-concept, but I love that house.

In May 2011, after renting in Seattle for two years, we purchased a small house here from a contractor who had owned the house for 15 years, and had remodeled it prior to selling. The house was built in 1912, and though mostly it was simply restored, the kitchen was remodeled. It's now open-concept with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. I could be on HGTV! I actually like the openness — I can see everyone and everything as I cook, and though the kitchen isn't large (approximately 11-1/2 by 11-1/5 ft.) it feels spacious, and the 3-1/2 ft. wide breakfast bar/counter is a great workspace. The 4-1/2 ft. mud room added to the rear makes it feel roomier, especially since it opens to a deck. The house's nine foot ceilings also make it feel bigger than it is.

My old kitchen is much funkier — not as modern as the new one — and at least one of my attempts to liven up the current one was foiled by a strange design feature. The cabinet tops have a trim on the front that is much higher than the actual tops. When I put a decorative object on top, it goes down so low you can't see it. My kitchen may be a little boring, but I like it. Here's my kitchen — I didn't straighten or specially clean it for you. This is it.

You are looking into the kitchen from the dining room in the first two photos and into the kitchen from the rear door in the third. See how open it is? The breakfast bar/counter is large enough that my husband often uses it as a desk, though I'm not in favor of this.You can see part of my cookbook shelf in the top photo.

This is the interior, moving clockwise from the breakfast bar/counter area to the stove, fridge and around to the sink across from the stove. The fridge looks much wider than it actually is, and in fact, because it's located right next to the wall, access is inconvenient. To clean it I have to remove all the door shelves and angle the fridge shelves to get them out. It's a chore. Sometimes it's even hard getting food in and out because the space is so narrow.

Here's the stove. It's got five burners but I've never actually used the long, narrow middle one. It's all electronic which took some getting used to — even now we sometimes set the timer wrong. The big drawer under the stove holds all my baking sheets, cooling racks and other stuff.

In the first photo you see the pantry cupboard on the right, next to the sink. The lower part has four shelves and the upper part has three. It holds a lot. We need a step stool to reach the top.

The Baking cupboard is left of the stove and kitty-corner to the big counter. It's really handy to be able to reach whatever I need for baking from the work area. The counter (which you can see in a previous photo) holds the toaster, food processor and utensil can. I call the drawer under the counter the baking drawer but it's not really limited to baking equipment. Under the baking drawer is the pot cupboard.

Under the big food prep area are the spice drawers — the main one and the overflow. The third spice area is across the room to the left of the sink, under the dishes. It's at the top of the post. The cabinet under the drawers holds various cookware and mixing bowls. The tan clay lasagna pan is a piece I hand built.

You can't really see them in the photo but behind the bowls and cast iron are all sorts of cake, pie and muffin pans. There's a cabinet next to the cookware that holds stuff like pasta, onions and nori.

At the top left is the dish cupboard and on the right glassware, mugs  and a bowl collection. Most of this stuff (except the clay bowls) is from Goodwill and other resale shops.

The middle photo shows the knife drawer (which is also the potato drawer!). We don't have a lot of knives but exactly what we need.

In the bottom photo is a cabinet in the dining room that holds dishes, tablecloths and cloth napkins. The left drawer has assorted fabrics for photography and the right is filled with napkins. You can't see them in the photo but I'm a sucker for interesting cloth napkins that I find at garage/estate sales and resale shops. They barely fit anymore.

Last but not least, the top photo shows the metal shelves in the mud room that hold big stuff that doesn't fit happily in the cupboards — slow cooker, extra wok, pickle press, bamboo steamers, giant wood salad bowls, etc. There's also a tool crate, cleaning stuff, recycling and trash.

On the back wall is a Haitian oil painting that I love.

And just for good measure, here's a sampling of my favorite refrigerator "art".

That's my kitchen. You are welcome anytime!
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