better homes than yours · DIY · Kids · Renovation

Day 56: Kitchen tour!

My old kitchen had a few problems:

  • The most direct route from the front door to the bedrooms went straight through the kitchen. In the after-school hours, right when dinner needed to be cooked, people would be right in the way.
  • Because we walked back and forth through the kitchen all the time, Mr. December and I found it far too easy to snack every time we passed through.
  • Non-perishables were stored in cupboards at opposite ends of the kitchen. I hated going back and forth between them, trying to remember where exactly I put that can of beans.
  • There was only one stretch of countertop, which was fine for one cook but wasn’t enough prep space (or dirty dishes after shabbat dinner space) for two or more of us. You couldn’t make a sandwich at the counter while someone else made dinner.
  • I couldn’t see anything from my kitchen. Not the living or dining rooms, not the front door, not the back.

So I went and designed a kitchen that solved those problems. Mr. December and I were both adamantly against an open concept kitchen. Who wants to hear my blender while they’re trying to have a conversation in the living room? And I’m not a clean-as-you-go chef — I definitely don’t need my guests looking at piles of dirty pots and utensils while eating dinner at our table. So our kitchen is a closed kitchen, but with excellent views into other rooms and the option to open up a little.

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Remember the built-in hutch in my dining room with the dish cupboards that open from both sides? The kitchen side of that hutch is just to your left as you enter the kitchen. Below the dish cupboards, at counter level, it houses a microwave, toaster, and our new coffee machine. The opening in the middle allows me to see into the dining room if I want, or to close it up so that noise and smells stay inside the kitchen.

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The kitchen side of the hutch also houses two important features. One is the built-in and fully concealed dishwasher, directly below where we store our dishes and right next to the cutlery drawers. Unloading our dishwasher is now as easy as it could possibly get.

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The other neat thing is my roll-away island. I especially love how I can pull it out to bake with the kids, so they can stand all around the bowl and work together. I have a matching island on wheels in my pantry, and I can use the two together to create a buffet or serving cart for parties.

(Remember parties? When dozens of people came to your house to mix and mingle in close proximity? Those were the days…)

As you move around the room (clockwise) you can see the window I built between the kitchen and the living room. Thanks to this window, I can see the kids in the living room — and even in the backyard — while I’m working in the kitchen.

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When you stand at the sink, the garbage bins are to your right, with garbage on the bottom and green bin (organics) on top. When the dishwasher is open it’s directly to your left. The whole setup ensures easy workflow when doing dishes: turn to your right and scrape the plates into the green bin, face forward and rinse the dishes in the sink, turn to your left to load them into the dishwasher.

The other really cool thing about the garbage drawers: the bottom (garbage) drawer and the recycling drawer under the sink both have electric drawer openers. You nudge the drawer with your knee or kick it with your foot, and it slowly opens. Tap the drawer front and it closes itself gently. I really like not having to touch the drawer pulls when my hands are dirty with whatever is about to go in the garbage.

I especially love the placement of the green bin. I can chop vegetables and then sweep the scraps into the green bin without bending down or having to carry the scraps to a different part of the kitchen. It also makes for a much neater plate-scraping experience since you’re not dropping the scrapings from any height.

I love how the kitchen sink neatly divides two separate (and generously sized) prep areas. The one to the right, between the sink and the stove, is usually our go-to for serious cooking. The one on the left most often gets used for reheating leftovers or preparing simple breakfasts.

The stove is our old one — I really want an induction stove, but I also want it to have a downdraft vent like my current stove. So I’m waiting for Jenn-Air to decide to make an induction version of their downdraft range.

The middle drawer to the right of the stove is actually a warming drawer. It’s great for preparing dinner a bit early and then keeping it warm. I also use it when I’m making waffles, to keep the cooked waffles warm as they come off the iron.

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If you turn to your right one more time you see the fourth wall of our kitchen, where you’ll find the step-in pantry, the fridge, and what we affectionately call the kids’ kitchen with its own prep sink. The door to the dining room is just to the right of that.

What I love about this setup is that if someone just needs a snack or a drink, they can get it all without walking into my workspace.

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Many people have commented to me about the kids kitchen, “They’ll grow up, you know. Then what will you do?” My answer: yes, they’ll grow up. But right now they’re still small (well, some of them are) and if I want them to be independent in the kitchen (and I do) I need to make sure they have appropriately-sized workspaces and tools to use.

When they grow up, we can raise the cabinets or just replace that one section so that the worktop is higher. We can extend the plumbing upwards just a bit so there’s still a prep sink; and then we can move our coffee maker there and call it a coffee station or a bar. It’s all good.

Here’s a closer look into my pantry:

I really love being able to see everything I have at a glance. I also love not having to see the contents of my pantry all the time, so we made sure it had a sliding door. I must admit, it stays open most of the time. When the door does get closed, it’s almost always by someone who just needs to be completely alone for two minutes. It makes a decent isolation booth, seeing as that’s where all the snacks are kept!

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Did I mention that my cabinets are from IKEA? I love their kitchens. All the hardware is by Blum (top-of-the-line hardware that custom cabinetmakers use) so the drawers glide like a dream. And since it’s modular, I can change things around if I want to — like my future rearrangement of the kids’ kitchen.

The only part of the kitchen that I built was the built-in hutch (everything from the countertop up.) The architect and the builder told me that it would have to be a custom piece and would cost an arm and a leg. “What?” I exclaimed. “But it’s seriously just a bunch of boxes. I can build a bunch of boxes!” … so I did.

If you couldn’t tell yet, I love bright colours. I went through about 20 sample tins of blue paint before I found the right colour for the cupboard doors which, incidentally, are not from IKEA. I had the drawer fronts and doors custom-made by a local company that specializes in IKEA kitchens. fullsizeoutput_6534

Well, that’s my kitchen. I’ve probably missed some detail somewhere, so if there’s anything you really want to know feel free to leave it in the comments down below and I’ll get back to you.

Next up, but probably not tomorrow, I’ll take you downstairs to the basement.

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