I had made a list of must-haves for our new kitchen to help me with the planning phase.
My list, really, was not exhaustive. I maybe should have edited it for these posts. But it was my gut-reaction, first-impulse list; the things that came to my mind first and immediately. So, in the interest of honesty, I’ve left it as-is.
What I neglected to add to the must-haves was for the workspace to be navigable by more than one or even two people simultaneously. We have five children (and counting) and the older ones do like to help in the kitchen. Plus I will never turn down the offer of help cooking or cleaning up from whomever happens to be visiting (it is my personal belief that accepting help is an essential part of being in a community, but that is another post for another day) and it is very difficult to manage help in a space where you can’t quite even pass another person without bumping into them into the stove where they’re cooking. (This is especially precarious if the stove is gas and you’re bumping them into an open flame.)
I could talk about all the steps and processes and incarnations of the layout, but to be honest, I don’t recall all of them and it was a frustrating process, so I will skip all of that and go straight to the end result, hm?
I obviously abandoned the one-wall kitchen idea. It all started when I couldn’t get those metal cabinets to fit in the plan…and then when I thought it would be nice to look out the front window while washing dishes. We have a five-and-a-half-foot farm sink with drainboards that would fit nicely there. We hadn’t intended to use it indoors, but hey, if it works, it works, right?
So we ended up with two sinks! We decided to use the cast iron sink that’s currently in our kitchen as well as the large, vintage drainboard sink. The smaller one in the island will be more of a prep sink, with the larger one being mostly for dishes. In this way I am maintaining the function of a smaller kitchen in this much larger one: I’ve ended up with two “zones”, as it were.
The island sink, stove, and refrigerator are all on one side of the kitchen, grouped together. This minimizes steps and wandering for forgetful dinner-makers (me) who find themselves returning from the fridge without the thing they went to the fridge for in the first place. With the counter between the stove and fridge being just under 4 ft. of workspace (that’s one of my metal cabinets I had to fit in!) this “cooking zone” will be, I think, Very Efficient and Convenient.
The drainboard sink, with its dishwasher immediately to the right of it (though you can’t tell on the floorplan) makes the base of a “washing zone”. The wall between this sink and the stove is where our open shelves will be located–right over the dishwasher. This means that whoever is unloading the dishwasher will do so right next to where all the dishes, glasses, etc. are to be put away. It may be a little thing, but I’ve found that not having to walk all over the kitchen to put things away is a marvelous way to make unloading the dishwasher a likable task. At the bottom of that “washing zone” triangle, at the island, is another one of my metal cabinets, which will be storage for Other Things (like, probably, flatware and other utensils not directly needed in the cooking zone).
The island itself I intend to be a home for all those wayward and ugly appliances that I can’t bring myself to live without but don’t want sitting up on the counters, either. So it will have outlets for using said appliances, and then a nice cozy space to tuck them away and out of sight when they’re not in use.
I should note here that there are no seats or barstools at the island. This is because there wasn’t room for five stools and cozy appliance hideaways–and I have five children who would (surely) all want to be there at once, if there were stools available. So to avoid the inevitable argument over who gets to sit at the island, I just decided to skip stools altogether. I don’t usually chicken out of situations with the potential for conflict, but there is a table literally right next to the island, so I didn’t feel like seating at the island would be necessary at all.
Finally–and perhaps the most exciting part, for me–there is four feet of space between the island and the perimeter countertops. This is, according to The Internet, the amount of space necessary for two people to pass each other in the kitchen and not bump into each other or into open flame, etc. My earnest hope is that this kitchen will prove itself efficient yet spacious enough for a good number of people to work in there together–not so that I don’t have to do so much myself (though it has been very helpful to have the kids be so interested in pitching in) but because it’s just more fun that way.
Oh–and because I’m sure you’re wondering–the third metal cabinet is to the left of the drainboard sink. Though I honestly don’t know what I’m going to put in it! What would you put in it?