On the one hand, I don’t love to cook. On the other, I do like good food. And I also like organization, logic, and having the right setting and tools for my work. Good kitchens make sense, and to me cooking in a good kitchen feels like taking a test to which I know the answers. It’s not exactly FUN, but it’s possible to enjoy the orderliness of the process, and the satisfaction of doing something well.
One of the things both R and I most looked forward to about eventually moving from a small, rented apartment to our own house was having a good kitchen. Sadly, the house we liked best had a particularly crumby one. The biggest problem wasn’t just that it was dated, or even that it was ugly. The problem was that it was lazy… off balance, messy. Poorly designed and poorly constructed. The more we tried to think about ways to correct it, the more it became clear that the whole thing had to go.
Here’s what we started with:
The real estate photo (the room has great light!)
Maybe it doesn’t look that bad to you? I sort of agree, but let me point out some issues (clockwise from bottom left):
– That countertop with the stools doesn’t actually overhang the stools and create a nice eating area… even when they’re shoved against the cabinet (as they are here), they overhang the doorway to the laundry room and block the whole flow of traffic in and out of the busiest spot in the house
– That cabinet area under the counter isn’t actually an accessible cabinet. It’s cheap plywood that’s blocked from all sides. 100% wasted space (this is more clear in the next photo)
– That space over the microwave also isn’t a cabinet. More random, covered space
– To make room for the sink/dishwasher under the window, 2 bad things happened: the sink is shoved off center, which may not bother many people, but makes me crazy, and the dishwasher is shoved so close to the doorway (leading to the stairs, and dining room — another busy passage) that they made that weird angled corner, in an awkward attempt to create more walkway. The result was that there still wasn’t enough walkway, and there was also a weird angled corner.
– Note the wiring coming down from the upper cabinet to the light switch above the dishwasher? That was the only switch that turned on the only overhead light in the kitchen – that lone fixture above the sink. Despite the beautiful light on a sunny day, Houston does get dark at night. There was limited electrical leading anywhere, and fixing this alone required a pretty major overhaul.
– See the random, unfinished six inches of empty space above the pantry, where the current owners had shoved bowls, etc? Umm.
Here’s a photo of the other angle:
– What you can’t see well here is that the stove doesn’t actually touch the back wall. There’s about 2 inches of empty space back there, which I guess they were trying to cover with the cutting board? We kept the same stove… just had the new counters fitted to actually cover the back area.
– What you also can’t see well is that to the left of the stove, near the ground, is the second vent for the room, which was just totally covered by the floorboard, but then I guess discolored and warped by the air blowing against it all the time. So the room got pretty hot in the 9+ months of the year that it’s over 80 degrees outside.
– Then there’s the random cabinet to one side of the doorway to the end, and the random chair occupying more wasted space on the other side.
So we ripped the kitchen out! This made refinishing the floors and much-needed ventilation and electrical work much more efficient. And THEN we thought about what we wanted next (and researched it, graphed it, and hired a contractor to make it happen). Kind of an awkward timeline.
But here’s what we have now!
We’re still playing with accessories, including bars to hang pots and pans on the wall next to the stove, and maybe some art for the walls next to the window (though I’m loathe to drill into the tile), but we’re thrilled with the result. I’m particularly happy with the clean flow from the kitchen to the laundry room, all our recessed lighting on dimmers, and the vent hood that sucks heat and cooking smell straight outside. And of course R loves his bar.
And here’s a bonus, in-the-middle pic, AFTER they did major clean-up because we had house guests coming for the weekend.