Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Workable Kitchen

I'm back after the nasty cold got me down for a week. So I do apologise for not stopping by your blogs very often! I am feeling much better now, and I'm almost back to my cooking routine. Which brings me to the kitchen.

Kitchen's are often described as the heart of the home, and a nice sized kitchen is something most of us aspire to when looking for a new home. I am very much a 'visual person', so I like nothing more than a 'pretty' kitchen. But getting more into cooking I have realised how important it is that a kitchen functions well.

Style in a kitchen in a kitchen is great, and can actually become part of how the kitchen functions. The great thing about a rustic looking kitchen is you can have everything to hand on open shelves and racks. But even minimalist kitchens work really well if all the equipment is well organised. In some regards, I think minimalist kitchens work well too because there's a distinct lack of unnecessary items. But the basics of any kitchen should be a space in which you can move around systematically. I'd like to share some tips that I have picked up along the way (one of my favourite sources being my Jamie Oliver cookbooks) and some photos of how we got our small and modest kitchen to work hard for us.

Most of us are stuck with the kitchen layouts we inherit from the previous home owners, but if ever you are lucky enough to start from scratch, remember the 'work triangle' system. It's not an absolute must, but basically it boils down to the most used items (IE cooker, fridge and sink) should be grouped together so that you can easily move from one area to the next. Examples of how this works are shown below.

The majority of us do not have enough cupboard space in a kitchen. But think logically, and put things you don't use often higher up out of the way and those that you do use often, put them closest to the area you use them in. You're only making things hard for yourself if you have the cups and mugs stacked in a cupboard on the opposite side to where the kettle is.

If you have a small kitchen, or just too many kitchen utensils, here are some space saving techniques:
  • Buy stack able mugs and glasses. We have only one narrow shelf for glasses, but because they are stack able IKEA ones, space isn't an issue.

  • Use a turntable in an awkwardly shaped or deep cupboard
  • Do the Jamie thing of using a pan rack (or laundry rack) on your kitchen ceiling to hang your pots and pans from.
  • Store equipment that you don't use often (blenders etc) out of the way.
  • Make use of wall space for utensils, spice racks and recipe book storage. Most recipe books are beautiful and deserve to be on display.
I'll share with you what makes our kitchen work, I always enjoy seeing what others do with their kitchen spaces, and I hope you find something new here too.

This is our kitchen when we first moved into our house.

And this is it now... as you can see, we are not minimalists (probably because I have a hoarding habit).

Our kitchen is not big, but we have made the most of the space with the following:
As you can see, we replaced low wall cupboards with ones that reach all the way to the ceiling for more storage space (and it means I don't have to dust the top of the cupboards!).
We added extra shelves alongside the window for displaying and using. We installed a shelf above the cooker from which to hang pans we use regularly, and a wall rail for utensils. All of this has made cooking such a joy!

A few other things I can't go without in my kitchen...

Plates stacked in the corner cupboard near the cooker & toaster. Essential that they are close to the action.

My coffee, tea and sugar tins (they are from a Laura Ashley sale).
These little pots are from those ready-made deserts that we have bought from the supermarket over the years (a bit naughty having so many!). They are so useful for cracking eggs in, mixing spices or herb, and a quick melt of butter in the microwave. They are the things I use most often.
Below you can see my little shelves. They are now in what was once a hatch that went through to the lounge. Instead of closing it up, Mr L put up a little shelf for me. This houses my other favourite items... my sugar shakers. These beautiful glass shakers are from Debbie English Treasures' shop. They are SO handy, and I was lucky enough that Debbie sent me an EXTRA one in our kitchen swap. I have one for icing sugar, one for flour (as you can see I dust flour directly onto my work surface for rolling out dough), and the other one I am going to use for cocoa powder (great for sprinkling on hot chocolates), and my new fourth one is going to be a cinnamon-sugar one for pancakes! I keep them covered with a round piece of cellophane and an elastic band.

Another idea that I came up with after seeing it in an expensive kitchen catalogue, was for Mr L to make us an organiser for our knife drawer. It use to drive me bonkers that the knives were sliding all over the place in the drawer and you could never see the actual knife you wanted. Mr L used 2 pieces of wood cut to sit inside the drawer on a thin piece of board, and made slits to fit the knives in. Oh, and a bit of leftover wallpaper for the base. Perfect!

Lastly, I love Jamie's idea that you draw an aerial view of your kitchen and where the main things are that you use (spices, plates, fridge etc). You then imagine yourself cooking a meal... now draw the route you would take to and from areas to cook the meal. If there are many lines all over the place, you'll be exhausted by the time your meal is cooked, and you should look into re-organising things. I hope this has inspired you.

How do you use your kitchen? Have you got anything you can't do without? And have you got any more ideas for us all to streamline our kitchens?

Thanks for stopping by!


Shabby Chick said...

I LOVE your kitchen! Your sink is so lovely. Please indulge me for a mo while I miss the kitchen in my old house (that I designed the layout of and had installed)... perfect working triangle, lovely glass display cabinets up the top for books/glasses/china and big larder unit for food storage as well as lots of drawers and base units. Oh and the ceramic butler's sink.

I wish I could have brought it with me when we moved! Here I am stuck with a cooker about 1ft away from the sink (HATE tiny gaps between them, it's what we inherited in the old house and did away with), two different types of white cabinets, two types of worktops - one I like, one I hate - and a couple of dodgy orange wood shelves.

Sorry, I am rambling. I try to hold in my kitchen rage but sometimes it escapes!!! Your post is very right and I think you've done your kitchen beautifully.

Mel xxx

PS word verification is "pasta"... how appropriate!

Ivy said...

What the perfect topic for me right now. We are moving and I have been thinking so much about how to organize things in my new kitchen. Thanks! This will be so useful.

Lesley (Notesfrommydays) said...

ive only just noticed this post how did i miss it ! fab info as usual you arevery good at this :-)
i will sound terrible but i sometimes feel my kitchen is too big!! its such a large space its hard to get it to feel cosy but i am working on it :-) i love your sink and your units I want a white kitchen!
Lesley x

Vintage Tea said...

What great ideas!

Victoria xx

Lorilee said...

Your kitchen looks great. I agree with planning to store items where close to the area where you will use them. I am thrilled to have a work island in my kitchen with a large potrack hanging over it. I also hate knives sliding around in the drawer. I have a large magnetic rack for hanging my knives.

A note on perfection

Many of the posts featured on this blog are about doing household chores the correct, or so to say perfect way. My intention is not to make readers feel that the way they are running their households are wrong. So if making the bed, or ironing shirts in a certain way doesn't fit your lifestyle, do not feel guilty about it. But by learning the correct way of doing things it might just come in handy for those times when special guests are staying, or when you need to iron that shirt perfectly for a job interview. So enjoy the learning, but skip the guilt and LOVE your homes. x

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