This is a continuation of a post I wrote earlier this week. Think of the previous post as the “before”, and this post as the “after”.
A few weeks ago, I wasted a Saturday morning on zillow. At first, I wanted to see what our neighbor’s house sold for. But then it turned into something else entirely. A little backstory…
Joel and I eventually plan on adding on a bedroom and a bathroom, possibly even an additional living space. We actually planned on doing this during this past year (pre-children and all), but some unexpected expenses and other priorities meant putting that plan on hold. Which was fine. Since then, somebody close to us has urged us to consider selling and moving, rather than adding onto this house.
Now, I’ll be honest. While selling and moving sounds tortuous to me, remodeling and adding on to the house right off our kitchen (as this is the planned location) while we have children actually sounds worse. So there I was on zillow…
We adore our neighborhood, but there are a few other neighborhoods on our side of town that have a lot of the same things going for them. These, unfortunately, are tremendously out of our budget (like 2 to 3 times our budget). So our neighborhood it was. And I looked at basically every home in the neighborhood, starting with the ones that were actually for sale, but then moving on to the ones that weren’t. Most of the houses in our neighborhood are much like ours: 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom. We want something at least 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, which limited things a lot.
There is literally only one house in the whole neighborhood that fits this description and is in our budget. Literally one. And I don’t even want that one. Because one of the bedrooms was in a converted attic, meaning that my husband could not have stood up in it. Moreover, one of the bathrooms was also in said converted attic, and my husband could not have stood up in that, either. But okay… that bedroom/bathroom is for the kids. Still no good, because the dining room (and there was no space for a table in the kitchen) could have barely seated two people at a table. And even if we didn’t love hosting people for meals, we also very much enjoy having people over for board games, which necessitates a large dining room table. I’ll take my house any day.
And in truth, it was a good lesson in being content. Because the grass rarely is actually greener. And sometimes, the only way to remember that is to spend some time inspecting each individual blade. So I love my home. But I’m also looking for ways to make it work for me. That’s what this is going to be about…
This is currently sitting on the peninsula, directly ahead of you when you walk into the kitchen. Immediately to the left of the entrance, the peninsula connects to the wall, but without any under counter storage. Over time, I’ve been able to get two different shelves that just barely fit under the counter. One holds kitchen appliances. One is like a rolling pantry for all the costcos* of food we like to buy. The basket holds drinks (lately Costco has had our favorites on special, so we really stocked up) and old towels to clean up Ramona when she comes in from the backyard on a muddy day. To the right, you can see a plastic bin that holds a costco* of rice.
This is the peninsula I keep going on about. I love this vast counter space, especially now that everything has a home and things don’t get left on the peninsula for days/weeks. Pumpkin artwork courtesy of my brother.
Foster coat of arms, as that’s a family name on my husband’s side. Beneath that, I have a decorative rack (a gift from my mother) for holding my beautiful measuring cups (a gift from my grandmother). Handily placed, as below that window, you’ll find…
This rack is sized exactly right to fit into this nook, with just a few inches clearance on either side. It connects to the other under counter storage on the other side. This little rack houses my entire chemistry set, with a vast selection of flours, starches, grains, nuts, and gums. Less used baking supplies and larger containers of said flours, starches, grains, nuts, and gums are in the cabinet just to the left. It is deep and therefore rather cumbersome to find things in, so having this handy cart has made baking tremendously more enjoyable. I’ve had this cart for awhile, though I did revamp the way it was organized a bit. It’s incredibly sturdy, and I loved it so much, I bought one for the pantry space on the other side of the counter.
Side note: If you’re into uniformity when it comes to containers as I am, mason jars can be a great way to go. They’re fairly affordable, food safe, and easy to come by so if you ever need more, you know you’ll be able to find them.
To the right of the peninsula, there’s a stretch of counter from wall-to-wall of the room (excluding where this stove is. Like I mentioned in the previous post, I absolutely adore this little section between the sink and the stove. It’s exactly the right size for a standard size dish mat.
I know a lot of people don’t like to have a dish rack out on the counter at all times. I’ve sort of resigned myself to this, as we don’t have a dishwasher. It’s not the most beautiful, but it sure is practical, and if it keeps me doing the dishes more regularly, it works for me.
The stove is an electric stove that was here when Joel bought the house. It works fine, so I can’t complain, but we hope to upgrade to gas at some point. There’s a ledge behind the stove that houses salt, pepper, vinegars, oils, etc. Above that are my baking dishes. We have some others (primarily, the ones small enough for the toaster oven), but these are the ones I use constantly.
And to the right, you can see our new pegboard.
Joel and I are a wee bit obsessed with magnets. We switched our spices into these magnetic canisters (uniformity and whatnot). When we were brainstorming how to mount a metal panel to place them on, we got the idea of a metal pegboard instead. It’s opened up TONS of storage in the kitchen. All of my favorite utensils are right there, rather than being cluttered in a crock on the stove. My favorite cookware, probe thermometer, and my favorite cutting board.
Putting a lot of the regularly used supplies on the pegboard allowed us to condense some of the cabinets (e.g., cookware and bakeware are combined in the cabinet now), without having to sacrifice space. This also allowed me to get some more regularly used things down to a shelf or cabinet where I can reach them. I’m sure I’ll be playing with the layout of this in the coming months, as I figure out what I need it to do for me.
All of that to say… there’s no perfect house out there. Expecting that from the house you have will undoubtedly leave you feeling frustrated and discontent. On the other hand, look for the small ways that you can tweak what you have to get it to work for you. And even though full remodel might seem like the most obvious choice, you might be able to get just a couple new things to minimize the flaws you’re seeing. For me, it was all about maximizing storage in this kitchen. It had the space, but a lot of it was wasted.
I know this kitchen will never be featured in a magazine. Most kitchens won’t, really. But this kitchen works for our family, and I can’t help but love that.
* “Costco”, while obviously a store, can also be used as a unit of measure meaning a relatively large quantity of this item. Obviously, “a costco of cinnamon” might be small compared to “a costco of rice”, but relative to the quantities you typically see, both are extremely large.