Thursday, May 1, 2008

Kitchen Help, Gifts!

I need help, big surprise, I know. We have decided to take the plunge and remodel our kitchen. It is a daunting task, but also something which makes me giddy. I can't wait to use the room more efficiently and have everything set up just as I like it and hopefully be more environmentally-friendly in the process...we'll never eat out again!

This is where you come in and I'm so desperate for you input, that I'm offering gifts, yes my first giveaway! First, I need comments, lots and lots of comments. Tell me what your favorite appliances are and why or what appliances to stay away from and why. Tell me what you love about your own kitchen or what you wish you could change. Tell me anything and everything you can think of regarding kitchens. I will pick three people at random and send them a 27oz. Klean Kanteen and an organic cotton tea infuser bag. There will be more giveaways as the kitchen project gets underway so check back often.

Here are some of the issues regarding our current kitchen:

1. Our house is 100 years old so I want to stay true to the house as much as possible.

2. We have four, count 'em four doors coming into our kitchen so wall space is a premium, but we have 10 foot ceilings, but I am pretty short (not even close to 10 feet tall).

3. Our dishwasher is not working so we will need to buy a new one which is what made the decision for us to go ahead and remodel. Our fridge is working fine right now and is energy efficient and small, but we will be going with a new stove/oven. We are open to having the range and the oven separate. Pros and cons?

4. We have an old sink which I would like to keep, but Rob thinks it needs to go and he is probably right. If there was a way to make the sink work better, we would be open to keeping it.

5. We have our washer and dryer located in the kitchen (stacked on top of each other), but this is not a good long term solution for laundry.

6. We compost all our kitchen waste so if people have good ideas about kitchen composting (we just have a couple buckets right now), let me know.

7. We buy things like dried beans, spices, brown rice, etc. in bulk and would like good ways to store them so they are accessible and stay fresh and pest-free.

8. We have no air conditioning so it would be nice to have a way a keep the kitchen cool in the summer months. Keeping it warm in the winter is not so much an issue.

9. We like to cook a lot and quite often the whole family is in the kitchen so it would be nice to be able to all cook together.

If I ever get the kitchen somewhat clean, I will post pictures so you can see what we have to deal with.


4 is crazy said...

I have heard that convection ovens are very efficient, but I could not give up my gas stove top. Are you set up for electric and gas?

Do you have a basement? You could move the dryer and sink to the basement. I know you rather hang dry anyway. With the washer in the kitchen, you can get more washed in the daytime and carry outside (or attic) to hang dry OR to the basement in a pinch to use the dryer.

I seem to remember that your kitchen has an island? You could keep that to use as your counter space - 1 child on each of 3 sides with Mom on the 4th side.

Good luck!

Cynthia said...

oh how exciting Linda. We redid our kitchen about 4 years ago and still love it but it's pretty small---I'm not sure how big yours is. We went with white painted cupboards and some subway tile because I thought they were most appropriate to the age of our house. My favorite thing is the pull out trash bin!! I wonder if you combine that with something similar for your composting needs. One of the most important things to us was to have some kind of seating---we don't necessarily eat in our kitchen much but I love to cook and like company. Also, even though I don't cook per se that much with the microwave I do use it for heating, melting, etc. a lot and I really like having it over my stove. I got one that will also bake which we don't use much but on holidays or times like that is really great.

We'll have to talk more....

4 is crazy said...

This might work for composting.

Loretta said...

Just a few thoughts...

-We have a whirlpool quiet partner dishwasher and I *hate* it. You have to rinse the dishes before putting them in or they come out with food still on them (even though there's a disposal in the bottom), it's not especially quiet, and I know that that will not be a brand we look at when/if we buy a new dishwasher in the future.

-I have heard the same thing about convection ovens conserving energy, and if you do a lot of baking, convections are supposed to be better. My mom has a stove/oven that is a gas/electric combo. It is a gas stovetop and an electric convection oven. The brand (I think) is JennAir. She has been pretty happy with it for the most part. Also about range/oven separation: I have seen kitchens where it's possible to have double (or more) ovens if it is separated from the range (like the ovens are beside the range in the wall--does that make sense?). Again, if you're a big baker having more than one oven might be nice?

-One thing I LOVE in my kitchen is this pantry cabinet that has shelves that you can pull out (the shelves are on wheels--does that make sense?). I can't express enough how much I love this cabinet! It's great to pull out the drawer and see all of the food in the pantry, all of my spices, etc. It makes the cabinet so much more functional and user friendly. This will definitely be something I make sure we have in the kitchen at our next house. I love this concept so much I would actually look into having this feature in all of our kitchen cabinets if we ever do a kitchen remodel. :)

I'm glad you asked about containers for bulk items. I have been wondering the same thing. Right now I just refill old spice jars with the new spices, but that means I'm still putting the spices (and other bulk items) in plastic bags at the store and then bringing them home. There has to be a better way to do this, right? For things like lentils or rice, etc, I just store them in some kitchen canisters on the countertop or in my awesome pantry with the moving shelves. (Did I mention how much I love that thing?) :)

Have you thought about putting a ceiling fan in the kitchen. My parents have no ac in their house (also old, but brick so it stays cooler than yours in the summer) and they have a ceiling fan in the kitchen, which is awesome. Everyone seems to just congregate at the kitchen table under the fan in the summertime, especially now that we're all getting "older." :)

Good grief! Do ya think I leave long enough comments on your blog?? ;)

Leeanthro said...

One thing I HAD to have when we remodeled our kitchen was pull out under-the-cabinet trash bins. Ours has 2 bins (trash and recycling). But for your needs, you could easily put in a couple of these cabinets.

We LOVE ceiling fans. Sometimes all you need is a little air flow to make it feel cooler. And much more efficient to open some windows and turn on the fans then run the air conditioning.

We got rid of our kitchen table to put in an island. We created a bar/pass through between the kitchen and living room where we eat sitting at barstools. It really opened up our tiny house.

I LOVE an open cabinet that I had put in above the island. It's where I keep my cookbooks and spices.

We had about 6 inches of unused space under one of our cabinets. We put "spice drawers" in. They hold my measuring spoons and cups. But really, the children love to play with them.

I also put in a pot rack where there was a small cabinet over the stove top. I could never reach anything in that cabinet and now it's nice to have the pots within reach of the stove top and sink.

Our remodel was (relatively) low budget and we did it ourselves.

AND we reused some of the cabinets in our basement, passed some on to others, and donated every thing else to the Habitat resale store.

Susan said...

I absolutely love our double wall oven. I think this is a must for you ;) for as much as you cook/bake. I just love it. We also have a 5 burner gas stove between the wall oven and sink, with cupboards for our pots and pans underneath it. I love that too.

We decided on a big island with seating around it instead of space for a kitchen table and that has worked out wonderfully. It provides more counter space and storage when needed, but it is also a gathering and eating space. We may have made it a bit too long though since it is a bit too close to our fridge when someone is sitting on that side of the island. But it's not horrible and there isn't someone sitting there 24 hours a day so we can deal with it.

I wish I would have thought of pull out trash bins, and cupboards/drawers that had some built in organizational extras, but I was overloaded at the time and just didn't.

Our microwave is on a built in microwave shelve next to our refrigerator so when reheating things or doing milk for coffee, it's right there. But you don't use a microwave so that's not an issue for you.

The house next door has a ceiling fan in the kitchen and it is really nice. We didn't need one but if our house was set up differently I would have considered it.

Maybe you could keep the sink and add another one and use them for different purposes? I've seen this done before and it didn't seem ridiculous.

That's all for now. If I think of more I will let you know.

I'm competing with Loretta for the longest post, apparently ;))

Good luck!

Susan said...

Oh, I forgot to mention something that may or may not be an issue for you. Our double oven is convection, and with that there is a fan. While and after cooking, the fan is running until it cools off. Sometimes it goes on too long and is a bit loud, depending on what is going on at the moment (our kitchen and family room is one big open space with the island making the break). So that may be something to consider, but not something you would know bothered you or not until you actually started cooking with it. I still absolutely love my oven, though, so it hasn't been too horrible dealing with the noise of the fan. After cooking I've started to just leave the oven door open a bit and that, of course, helps to cool down the oven faster so the fan will shut off sooner rather than later.


Kris said...

I have seen recycled glass counter tops that I absolutely love! They are small glass tiles, obviously made from recycled materials. The last instance I saw them was in a kitchen with stainless steel appliances and it looked so great! These tiles were also used on a backsplash wall.

I 2nd (or 3rd) the pull out trash/recycling. We don't have them but I have used them at friends houses. it will be a must if we redo this kitchen or move.

I currently have the moveable shelves on wheels loretta was talking about and really find them great for organization! And it keeps keegan entertained quite well.


Susan said...

I agree with Kris. The recycled glass tiles look really great. We'll be putting up a backsplash in the near future and at the top of the list of what to use are those glass tiles.

Miss Jenny said...

I have some small, simple ideas.
Since your kitchen space is at a premium, use some of the surrounding spaces like your dining room and butler's pantry. Do you have storage under the stairs right outside of the kitchen?
Consider moving non-essential kitchen tools to the cabinet in the dining room. Things like large serving pieces or small appliances that you don't use every day could go out there.
The butler's pantry could hold bulk bins on one wall. If the Co-op is going to get new ones when they move they might sell you some of the old ones.
I think you need to move the washer and dryer out of the kitchen. Could they go in the butler's pantry?
I don't remember seeing cabinets on the wall that the refrigerator is on. If not, you could install some there or put up hooks to hang pots and pans there.
I need to come over and look around some more!

Shawna said...

Coming late, as usual, but I have a few thoughts. I like the idea of a separate stovetop and oven, with space for all the pots and pans under the stove. We have a glass cooktop, which I *love* for clean-up purposes, but are not supposed to use iron skillets/pots on them. I do anyway. I am not sure why, perhaps because of the danger of dropping them and cracking the surface or maybe something to do with the heating. Another issue is that they stay hot a long time, which can be a problem with children who don't notice the little indicator light. That said, I prefer cooking with gas and would love one of those newer gas cooktops that are more enclosed and easier to clean.

We have a microwave/air vent over the stove. I *love* the air vent for removing odors and preventing oil and such from coating walls, but hate the location of the microwave there. But IIRC, you don't use a microwave. Laundry should definitely be out of the kitchen.

I highly recommending sliding drawers in cabinets for larger items and in any pantry shelves. Also "lazy susans" built-in for corner cabinets and pantry areas. But I think those are pretty standard with newer cabinetry.

I like a clean countertop so hidden areas for small appliances are nice. We have two roll-top areas under cabinets that you can close over the appliances but open to easily slide them out for use.

We also have a pull-out trash bin with space for the trash can and a bag for collecting recycling. I keep a bucket on the counter for compost.

Consumer reports has reviews for refrigerators in the last issue. I always research appliances there.

That's all I can think of for now!