Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Kitchen: A Love/Hate Relationship

I have perpetual kitchen-envy for just about everyone I know. My tiny kitchen pretty much sucks. And yet, I still love to cook. And I honestly don’t mind cooking in mine most of the time. It’s tiny as a squirrel’s heinie, but not as tiny as the one I had when I first moved out and lived in an apartment in Atlanta. (The kitchen. Not my heinie. Although it was considerably smaller then, too.) I managed to pull out several full-on Thanksgiving dinners there, with no dishwasher. So this one is definitely better by comparison. We did have a pretty large kitchen for about a year, and the size wasn’t all that. The nicest thing about it was that there was room for people to hang out in there while I was working on dinner. That’s probably the biggest (and surprisingly my only) issue with the size of this current kitchen – there’s not room for people to stand and a.) chat with me or b.) work WITH me. So when we have company, folks kind of have to stand and lean in the doorway, which is fine, but it would be nice if I didn’t have to grope their bottoms just to get a spoon out of the drawer.

We have big plans for our kitchen down the road – HUGE! But we’re rather fiscally conservative (our family would say “cheap”) and won’t do that until the house is paid off in another four years.

There are a lot of things I truly loathe about this kitchen. My kitchen makes me swear. A lot. So much that I shall describe my pet-peeve components in quantifiable terms you can understand – the Kitchen Swear Factor (KSF). A ranking of 1 will warrant a child-safe “dangit” and a 10 will mean a lengthy stream of profanity the likes of which would make a bunch of battle-hardened marines cry like little girls. Do not underestimate me.

Things I hate about my kitchen:

1. These. They didn’t come with the kitchen, but damned if I can get them out of it when I’m in there. Food occasionally falls from the sky to the floor, you see, and that’s worth the possibility of tripping up and breaking the hip of the hand that feeds them.

KSF:1 (because clearly, it’s really not the kitchen’s fault they’re underfoot.)

2. The tile countertops. Who on earth thought WHITE tile countertops were a good idea? Someone who never cooks, apparently. You can’t knead dough on it. You can’t roll out a pie crust on it. You can’t cut cookies on it. And you sure as HELL can’t keep it clean. Then the tile starts popping up and you’re hosed. HOSED! The ONE good thing about the counters – and I do mean ONE – is that you can put hot stuff down on them. Which is a pretty valuable mitigating factor when you have as little counter-space as I do.

KSF: 4

3. The sink. I like the divided thing, I think. I’m thinking down the road when I get a new kitchen sink, I still want two parts. I’m mulling on that. But the side that is large and utilizable isn’t so much because the faucet isn’t really optimally positioned to use there, and the “plumber” (you’re probably going to see a lot of quotes in this blog post) who set it up didn’t level it right, so the bigger side of the sink doesn’t drain all that well. Which leaves the most “functional” (there they are again) side of the sink the tiny side. The side next to the dish draining rack that hangs over to drain properly and creates even LESS room. And let’s talk depth. It isn’t. It’s as shallow as a blonde cheerleader with a 2.0 GPA. Try washing a large stockpot in that thing. Just try. I’ll sit in the doorway with a glass of wine and laugh at you while you cuss.

KSF: 5

4. The “vent-a-hood”. I’m not sure I should even call it that. Is there something else I could call it? Like “mild recirculating fan thing?” “The Odor Rotor?” I swear the Easy Bake Oven has a better vent-a-hood.

Ironically, there was a gaping round HOLE in the cabinet above the stove, where someone apparently was preparing for a REAL vent-a-hood that actually VENTED. But I guess they cut the hole and then realized “Oh. Hey. This is on an interior wall. And there’s no place here to vent TO, except that room, over there… “Hey lady! You mind if we vent the stinky and possibly carcinogenic kitchen grease into your baby’s nursery??” (It’s a den now, but I still don’t want to have atomized grease blowing on my stereo equipment.) There was not a corresponding hole anywhere else in that cabinet, which is how I know that was an aborted effort. So now there’s a recirculating fan and light that’s just attached to the underside of the cabinet and Pootie filled in the hole when we repainted. The recirculating fan has the power of an octogenarian with emphysema blowing out the corresponding number of birthday candles.

KSF: 8

5. The “drawers”, “cabinets” and “storage space”. I use quotes because. Oh, please. Come on. Look at the picture. Circa 1940, these “cabinets” and “drawers” were goobered together by some well-meaning handyman with no cabinetry experience whatsoever. They’re basically just plywood empty shelves and plywood boxes shoved (and I do mean shoved) into square spaces.

The drawers work so poorly that every time I open and close them, a little wood shaves off and dribbles onto the dishes in the “cabinets” below. We’ve added some stainless steel pull out racks which has marginally improved the storage and accessibility. Marginally.

KSF Without SS Racks: 10

KSF With SS Racks: 9

Things I love about my kitchen:

1. These. I don’t REALLY care that they’re underfoot most of the time, and I occasionally trip over them. They’re attractive accent pieces and they love everything I cook. Even the stuff that sucks.

2. My crappy stove. You know, it’s a crappy stove. But it works. And the oven is actually pretty good. It will certainly be replaced, but generally speaking, I don’t have many complaints about it.

3. My cart. Not part of the original kitchen, but we done good when we found this to fill out this area. I can cut on it, and it stores stuff underneath. Good purchase. Yes, it too, will be replaced eventually, but it’s definitely served us well.

4.  My hanging rack for pots. Frees up tons of under-counter space that isn’t there to begin with, and puts all my pots in easy reach, which is good. I use them a lot.

5. The floor. We worked very hard, and I never want to do it again, to remove several layers of vinyl and linoleum from pretty, pine flooring, which we refinished.

It was worth it, but here’s a tip for you. BEFORE you start in on a project like that where you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, Google it first and find out how. Because if we’d known to score the floor first, then pour hot, soapy water on it and let it soak, then use a FLOOR SCRAPER (who knew they made such a miracle?) on it, we could have saved about six hours of hard, frustrating, fruitless effort. (Ever tried to chip off glued down linoleum with a butter knife? No? OK, never mind.)

6. My full-size fridge. I don’t care that it’s not counter-depth and sticks out real far. It holds plenty, is well-organized, and works. Well. I hug it every day.

7. My dishwasher. It works. Now that I’ve switched back to Cascade from the off=brand Kirkland stuff from Costco. Never again.

8. My grill. I know it’s technically outside, but as close as it is (two steps outside the kitchen door) and as much as it gets used, it’s like a second stove. I use it every bit as much as the indoor range.

9. The size. Truly. I like being able to not take more than one or two steps and bang, I’m there. I have my kitchen movement down to a science in this space and if it was bigger, I might have to move. And then I’d have to rest more. Whew.


Morgan Todd said...

I'll second your disdain for the white tile counters, vent-a-hood and poorly done sink. I think the same person must have done our kitchen. There is no hope for the hood without major expenditure, but our countertops/sink will be getting a major upgrade later this summer I hope. What BiG plans do you have in store for your kitchen? How do u feel about your faucet? Would you recommend it?

Andie Reid said...

BIG plans include completely removing the current cabinets and countertops and replacing them with real ones with smart storage options. New countertops will be stainless steel. We also plan to build nice cabinets in the dining room with a countertop and a small bar sink in there. We'll move all the dishes and flatware out there and the wine fridge, which should free up a lot more storage space in the kitchen.

The faucet has been kind of a pain, because it had an initial design flaw, but once we worked with the manufacturer, we got it set right and it's been great. They were easy to deal with. We got it at Bird.