Or, how I talked myself out of a full kitchen remodel and into a few storage bins.
My new husband has owned his house for over twenty years. The kitchen certainly has not been updated since he bought the house. To be honest, I don’t think it has been updated since it was built, circa 1978. It is not a bad kitchen (see below); it is wide and adheres to the kitchen work triangle principal. However, the look is dated; it is short on cabinet space, and the old downdraft electric drop-in range is starting to die. Honestly, it is a functional kitchen, but it is not the easiest to use or the most aesthetically pleasing.
I don’t know a lot about remodeling or designing a new kitchen, so my first step was research on the internet. I thought I would get ideas there, and then maybe talk to someone from a big box store. After that, I would have a better idea of what I needed to do. My idea when starting the research was to reconfigure the whole kitchen to have more counter and cupboard space. Using an cost calculator quickly shot down that idea. I knew it would be expensive, but I didn’t realize how much. I am also slightly pessimistic and figured the calculator was probably on the low side. That really made my original idea unfeasible with our budget right now.
I dialed back my expectations and moved forward. As you can see in the picture, our counter is old tile. It has positives: it does not scratch and I do not worry about putting warm pans on it. However, some of the tiles are cracked, and if we replaced the stove, I am sure we would have to change the size of the opening. That would be the perfect time to replace the counters. I was not sure what I wanted to do for counters. I knew I loved granite, but did not know enough about it. I researched it and other similar options. Once again, loved the idea, not the cost. Now, I am just hoping we do not have to touch the counters.
I had to take a hard look at our budget and expectations. My husband is easy-going. The kitchen doesn’t bother him and as long as everything works, he is good. However, he is willing to let me make changes, if I really think they are needed. Money is tight though, and we just had a wedding. He asked me to consider our options and my motivations carefully.
Right now, everything this working, but the fan on the downdraft of the stove is starting to fail. It will need replacing in the near future. Unfortunately, the stove is at least 30 years old and there is not an easy replacement. Most of the current downdrafts are not highly reviewed and their exhaust configuration is different enough that some work will have to be done with the exhaust pipes. That will take the majority of our budget. My task, then, is to decide what I can do, with as little money as possible to make the kitchen work a little better.
My biggest problem with the kitchen, other than the range, is storage. The cabinets are not very deep and the shelves are not adjustable. Since we cannot afford new cabinets, I will need to work with what I have. With a few organizer tools, I should be able to make better use of the space. In the long bottom cabinet, we are going to remove one section of the shelf so I can stand up things that are tall, rather than have to stack them. A lid holder or tray divider will work well here. For the other shelves, I can use either metal shelves or under-cabinet shelves to add additional layers. My husband is not a big fan of color, but I might be able to convince him to add hardware to the doors. If I find the right design, this will help spruce up the look.
As you can see from the picture, our pantry is fairly large, but the back corners are hard to access. I want to put a large lazy susan on the two middle shelves in the back corner. This will allow easier access to items in that part of the pantry. I am also going to use storage bins to corral the different pantry items together. Right now, my husband and I just stuff new items into the front of the shelves, pushing old cans of food to the back. We are constantly buying new cans because we can’t find that can of peas that I know I bought two weeks ago!
Finally, I found some great hints about counter organization. I will get a utensil organizer that will hold all of my most used items and make them easier to find. This will also free up some drawer space for other small things. Also, I am going to use clear containers to hold my sugar, flour, salt, tea and coffee. It will be attractive, and still organized.
I have not yet completed all these changes, but I am working on it. The stove has not been replaced yet. Because we will probably have to change the venting, we are going to wait for spring to do that.
After I put all the organizing tools in place, the biggest challenge we will have is maintaining the organization. All the tools in the world won’t help if we don’t put the utensils back in the organizer, or keep the cans of vegetables in the storage bins.