Thursday, October 22, 2015

Creating your dream kitchen

A kitchen is such an amazing space when you think of it.  It's where we provide our own sustenance, and it's equipped with tools we use every day to prepare foods that keep us alive, comfort us, and entice friends and family to come together in one place.

Vintage kitchen decor: nothing says postwar like chalkware fruit

In the same way a plate can look like a million different things and just still be a portable slab that stands between its contents and the surface below, a kitchen can look like a million different places and still have a place to store food, to prepare food, and to heat food.  And then to wash the dishes, ugh.

I've been thinking for over a year now about what kind of kitchen would work in our reimagined house.  I mean, if you're starting from scratch, why not make it perfect?  But straight off, we had to make concessions to accommodate unchangeable things.  For example, we needed load-bearing walls to support the floor above.  I wanted a window over the sink, but along one wall, we wouldn't be allowed to add windows (it would have created a fire risk to the too-close house next door).  We didn't want to move the front door, and we didn't want our new kitchen to continue serving as the dumping ground for everybody coming in from outside, so our kitchen couldn't be in that corner of the house.  We didn't want to sit in the living room and look at dirty dishes, but at the same time, we didn't want the living room or kitchen to look cramped.

Most of all, Pete and I wanted to be able to work in the kitchen at the same time without constantly smashing into each other or having to wait for somebody to move on to their next task.  Super ugh.

So... when I come home with eggs and milk, I will have to carry them across the entire dwelling to the opposite corner from the front door to put them into the refrigerator.  We will in fact be looking at the cooktop from the living room, and I will have to get fancy with sightlines to conceal any pots piled up by the sink. I will have a window over said sink, but I will have to look up to see anything pretty, and the area won't be a sun patch.

But I can have other things, like vintage cabinet knobs discovered at an antique market.

And we can slip in a banquette.  A place to play cards at night or eat toast in the morning... and at the back of the side facing away from the living room, we can add a discreet divider that doesn't close off either space.  I have always loved banquettes, with the exception of the only one I ever lived with, in a 1970s sidesplit during my high school years.  It was upholstered with avocado green vinyl which, though extremely dated, was in excellent condition and therefore not a candidate for change (unlike the avocado green velvet brocade wallpaper in the living room, thank goodness.)  I'm thinking red outdoor fabric for this one.

I can have the freestanding cabinet style I love and can't currently find a picture of - the one that has base cabinets and a counter and upper cabinets all contained within side walls, without a cooktop or refrigerator to say Kitchen.  Sort of a built-in Hoosier, the portable self-contained kitchen prep cabinet I always swoon over, but I can make my freestanding cabinet do much of that job.

And I can have some vintage touches, like the chalkware shelves with their pretty chalk eyelet tops.  Or not, because they only cost $7 and I'm not entirely sure whether they will make the room look dated rather than whimsical.

There has been so much kitchen decision making going on lately.  I ended up reconfiguring the floating cabinet portion of the room - the one that was going to divide the kitchen from the living room - because once I was in the three dimensional space I realized it would cripple movement in both, on top of costing a fortune in millwork.

What to do instead?  L shape? Galley?  U-shape?  None of the above?

We are leaning toward the latter, with a long run of counter and then a second, shorter run set perpendicular to the first and a few feet away from it, facing the newly imagined banquette.  This worries me, deviating from accepted kitchen logic.  It would be an expensive mistake to fix if we get it horribly wrong.

And this on top of all the other decisions that have to be made, the first of which is cabinet colour.  Do we choose a stock colour or go custom?  Or go with a hybrid option - a custom colour another customer has already had the company mix up?

This is where my giant colour cards, ordered from Maria Killam, are paying off for me.

A giant box of paint samples
I had been leaning toward a white with a blue undertone to preserve my dream of Carrera marble somewhere in this place, but we would have to pay the custom mix fee for it.  Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace, a true cool white with no undertone, on the other hand, has been mixed already and I can have it at no extra charge.

Here's what the two look like, side by side:

Yes.  This is the person I have become.  (Chantilly Lace is on the right, by the way.)

I guess what I'm getting at is that as long as all things are possible, the journey between you and your dream kitchen is anything but dreamy.  Thankfully Andy, the designer from our cabinet supplier, is incredibly reassuring to work with.  And patient.  Very patient.

Let's look again at these kitchen knobs, shall we?

They were salvaged from a 1940s kitchen, just right for our 1942 house frame, and though they were partially cleaned they'll need a LOT more work to look as nice and new as the rest of the space will.  I don't mind though because I was able to get 18 of them, at $2 apiece, no tax.  Have you priced cabinet hardware lately?  Because MAN it is cheap to go vintage.  And they feel really nice in your hands.  Also, they match Chantilly Lace perfectly.  I just have to find a good metal handle to put on the lower cabinets that will look like it was always meant to go with the center post on these guys.

The bowl I just posed them in was another antique store find from years ago, by the way, and it's full of memories as well as kitchen stuff.  With much effort and calendar in hand I had talked Pete and Les into taking me to an antique mall I loved, and on the morning we were to leave I was recovering from a terrible cold but couldn't bear to cancel.  My motor skills were a mess and when I picked up this bowl which I didn't actually love but had an interesting lid - you know, from the days when leftover foods were stored in the refrigerator in oven proof materials with matching, loose lids - the lid dropped and broke.  Which meant I'd officially bought it.

As a reminder to use care in general and always value what falls into your lap, I have kept this bowl out in plain view ever since.  It's not my favourite shade of kitchen red (it's closer to tomato) and the inside is quite discoloured and crazed, but it's extremely useful and because it doesn't splay out at the sides as many others do it takes up little space on a windowsill or a shelf.

Also, it reminds me so much of fun times with Les in the years before he passed on.

I guess that's the best of a dream kitchen - if it really works, and it draws in everybody you care about, it will capture all your memories and hold them for you to enjoy every day.

What would be in your dream kitchen?

No comments: