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The cabinet doors are shaker style in cherry. I had them made and then finished them with Watco oil and three coats of wipe-on polyurethane. We love the finish and the wipe-on was much easier to deal with since I had to finish all the doors and drawer fronts in the carport next to the llamas and the hay, a situation not conducive to fine wood finishing. I also had them pre-drill the hinge holes and the Blum hinges just snap right in with no screws needed. I made the cabinets out of double-sided melamine-coated, 13/16″ particle board because I wanted the hard, white interiors. The counter and back splash are slate left over from someone else’s patio and entry way. On the back splash I just cut to length where needed because there were a bunch of pieces cut to this size. For the counter I used the more irregular pieces and cut and fit as needed. There’s one under-cabinet Xenon light under the top cabinet that is turned on by one touch from the dimmer in that outlet box there. It’s a cheap off-the-shelf model that I just cut the plug off of and hardwired in (under-cabinet lights can be outrageously expensive). If you’re looking at the cabinets straight on, you can’t see the fixture like you can from this angle. I had the doors made an inch longer than the cabinets to hide the lights, instead of adding a light-hiding rail. Dishes and glasses are above (one of only two wall cupboards). Below is:

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The Kitchenaid mixer. I didn’t want a roll-up door and didn’t want to give up a huge chunk of cabinet space to a pull-up shelf. Now all my flour mess stays on the counter instead of on the floor. In theory.

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I screwed in a drawer handle under the cabinet next to the mixer to clip recipes to. First photo is with the cupboard closed (you can’t see the handle when the door is closed), second with it open. I bought the hanging clips at Ikea because I’m a sucker for anything metal, heavy, and well-made. I figured out this use for them after I got home, which is a step ahead of most of the the little things I buy there.

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This is the bottom drawer, in the stack under the mixer, and has basic baking ingredients like flour, sugars, vanilla, etc. Ten pounds of sugar fits in one of the containers with the red lids. The drawer boxes are maple (finished with tung oil because it’s easy and durable – I’m a big fan of the wipe-on, wait, wipe-off method). You can see how they are smaller than the drawer front, which is a separate piece. I didn’t want deep drawer sides because all of the little things would get lost, and it was cheaper this way since the drawer sidewalls and bottoms are priced by the square foot. The drawers are as wide as the cabinet, but the drawer front is wider because I sized it to cover the space between the cabinet and the wall, instead of having to put in a filler strip. And full-extension slides, a must.

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Another drawer, this one for for pots and pans. You can see that this one is much shorter than the drawer front so the drawer itself is deep enough for the tall pots but we don’t have to fish around in the dark for shorter ones. These are 36″ wide.

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Tray cupboard next to the pots-and-pans drawers. My goal in this kitchen was to have nothing other than plates and bowls stacked on top of each other. Any errant stacking I discover is swiftly eradicated lest we slide down the slippery slope of uncontrollable piling on. This and the cupboard under the sink are the only base cabinets that are not drawers. The big sink, garbage disposal, and hot-water-dispenser tank leave little room for anything else under the sink. If you wonder why a hot-water dispenser, then you haven’t lived. When we changed sinks and discovered that our old hot-water dispenser wouldn’t work with the new sink, I had to make my tea like a caveman, in the microwave, and I don’t want to ever have to go there again.

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The other wall cupboard, above the pan drawers. The microwave is sitting on an open shelf. I didn’t want it behind doors because I use it constantly for actual cooking, not just melting butter. Those tray dividers are also from Ikea and are much heavier and cheaper than any others that I found, but are a little too tall for some of the shorter pans. I have giant rubber bands that came from a nursery (I think they were around root balls) in the middle of the dividers so there’s something for the pans to rest against. But the rubber bands are a few years old and tend to break when no one is looking. I can reach the bottom of the cake pans, but need a stool for the top shelf. Which is why the rarely used stuff is up there. We’ve yet to have an occasion that requires the services of that tacky Space Needle whiskey bottle.

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The cabinet above all closed up, the pan drawers, and the tray cupboard, with the stove on the right. The sink wall is to the right of the stove.The cherry doesn’t look as patchworky as it does in these photos.

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The stove corner. Those are the pan drawers to the left. The stainless rod and magnetic knife racks are from Ikea. I’m not happy that Ikea changed their black disposable paring knifes to bright red, blue, and yellow. Next time I’m there I’ll have to spend an extra six bucks for the individually packaged knives. Details of the things on either side of the stove below. Those wood-handled Gerber knives we’ve had since we got married. The rest of them are put away somewhere else.

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Behind the stove. Those rectangular pieces were already that size in the batch of slate that we got for free. I found the smaller mosaic tiles around the edge at Home Depot, and they happen to match the Montana slate perfectly. We bought the beach-scene tile (in the middle and, yes, those are people walking on a beach) in Cannon Beach, one of our favorite places, when we were there for our 25th anniversary. I designed, fitted, assembled, mortared, and grouted this outside on plywood and tile-backer board and hoped we’d be able to get it in the house and mounted without anything breaking or cracking. There was no way I could have done all that on a vertical surface. I got lucky.

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This is to the left of the stove. I cut a hole in the counter big enough for the container to fit in and small enough that it hangs by its lip, so it pulls out easily for cleaning (that’s what I’ve been told, anyway). Cutting the slate around this and the utensil holes on the other side took a lot of time.

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To the right of the stove. Notice that I’ve banished any utensil that isn’t black or stainless. Those go in a drawer to cut down on the cluttered look. One of us likes having everything out in the open. I don’t and would be happy to have nothing sitting on the counters.

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The chopping block that serves as an island (because we love it and there’s nowhere else for it to go) came out of an old restaurant in town. A neighbor had it in his garage for decades (and it was in our basement for years after that) and was going to burn it if we didn’t take it. The legs and sides had a bajillion layers of white enamel on them. Under it is a homemade garbage can. It’s a black plastic bin from Ikea with a separate lid. I cut the lid in half, screwed on hinges to the two halves, and then screwed on castors on the bottom. And a handle to the side of the lid so we can pull it out easy and lift the lid to deposit garbage. I had no idea I was going to do this when I bought the bin and the castors in separate trips, so I’m looking for black castors now.

I did the floor years ago. It’s tongue-and-groove 3/4″ pine that came out of someone’s basement (again, free), and had been used as wall paneling. It’s decades old, but had never been finished on either side, for which I was grateful. I planed the boards and installed them groove-side down on the floor. Then we realized that there was enough left to cover the walls (which were a disgusting mess of old plaster poorly executed), so that’s installed groove-side out and painted. I was done with the planing by that point. Under the wood stove on the right is some sort of slate with mica in it. It’s apparent that I was all about the fitting and no cutting, and that my attention wavered near the end, when I put that down a long time ago.

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I’m glad my original garbage solution didn’t work out because we can easily move this to anywhere in the kitchen where we’re working and not drip and slop asparagus juice or potato peels on the floor trying to make the garbage can. There is no room under the sink and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice cupboard space for garbage. That’s a big garbage bag inside and we have to really stretch one corner to get it to stay, but it works

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We don’t need a ton of cabinets in the kitchen (good thing, because there’s not room) because almost all of the food and big things that we seldom use are in the pantry behind this door. The cabinet on the left is original. It’s hard to figure out how this house used to be configured and what was added on where and when, but we’ve been told that this had been the way to get into the house (a lot of people who live around here – and are much older than me, so they’ve been here a long time – grew up here). Because the pantry is not fit for outside viewing, I put lacy Japanese paper on the windows of the door and adhered it with polyurethane painted on top (did that in the bathroom, too), although this photo makes it look like I smeared them with Crisco and called it good. The sink wall is to the left of this wall.

And now for the icky parts.

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The new sink is in the same place (as is the new window – we had all the old double-hung, drafty windows replaced when we moved in, so we’re on the third window here now). I do miss being able to write on the walls, though. The cabinet doors were simple slabs of plywood. It was this color when we moved in too many years ago (and there were pink and pea-soup green layers, too).

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Sink wall, same dishwasher with the white panels showing. Those stainless things on the chopping block are what are now hanging from the counter on either side of the stove. When we moved in there was a false ceiling at standard ceiling height and it was about ten years before we realized that those horizontal upper cabinets existed. One day I mentioned something to Captain OCD’s sister (our next-door neighbor) about plans for the kitchen. She said, “Oh, I thought you were done.” She, tidy to her core, was being polite. Horrified that anyone would think we were satisfied with what was there, I tore out the ceiling the next day so it would be really obvious that there was more work to do. For a number of years after that we had fluorescent tube fixtures hanging by wire from the ceiling. Those are new-kitchen floor plans taped to the cabinet doors.

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Other side of the sink. The stove is now in this corner. No, that’s not a toilet. It’s a garbage can and recycle bins.

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Same corner with the lower cabinets torn out. The old sink is still there, in the right of the photo. I’m guessing that pink plaster wall was at one time visible. That’s blown-in insulation falling out of the wall between the lath – when we moved in there was zero insulation anywhere in the house.

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Here’s the really icky part. This was in the floor in the corner where the stove is now (the hole is about a foot square). A lovely discovery found after ripping the cabinet out (it’s looking down on the top of the breaker panel in the scary, creepy basement). I try not to think about what might have scurried up through this hole to party in the old kitchen while we were sleeping. I do know that we found a couple of toddler opossums under the sink once.

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I stapled layers of heavy plastic over the hole, then screwed down plywood over that, then built this box, stuffed it full of insulation, closed up the box, and caulked the hell out of all the seams. That yellow wood on the floor where the cabinets used to be is from the old cabinets to fill in the space and make it level with the pine floor and is covered by the new cabinets. That’s a piece of linoleum sitting on the floor where the stove will be.

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The other side of the old sink.The stove was moved to the corner on the left.

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We weren’t sure how to install the new sink (no instructions because they’re handmade and therefore not exactly symmetrical or regular – my guess is that the company doesn’t want any liability for mishandled installations), so one way to get busy is to rip everything out so that figuring it out becomes of paramount importance. I did not rip out the lath and plaster down to the studs. I covered up the whole mess with plastic sheeting and Masonite, stuffing in more insulation wherever there was room.

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A couple of steps forward. We left the wall cabinets up until the bottom ones were in far enough to put things in them so we didn’t have to find more space to store the kitchen wares.The dining room table was already stacked high.

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Temporary bracing under the sink and holding the counters up. You do not want to know how hard it is to get to the bottoms of all that faucet hardware now with everything closed in (the sink is about 12 inches deep). It has to be done by feel. I had grand plans of making the entire back piece removable so we could just lift it out to work under there. Yeah, that didn’t happen. At this point we didn’t know what the counter surfaces were going to be. If we were doing it again (which we won’t be), I’d install the sink slightly off-level. It’s so big (and flat-bottomed) that the water from the faucet doesn’t form a whirlpool that whooshes stuff down the drain, so we have to use the sprayer and help the little bits down. But that doesn’t matter: Still, at least once a day, one of us will spontaneously exclaim, “I love this sink!”

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Where to put the stove was a big concern because I didn’t want corner cabinets and the layout of the room meant that putting the stove on one wall would have severely limited storage space. After several weeks of stewing about it, I woke up one night: In the corner! and ran out to the kitchen, grabbed the measuring tape, made a square the size of the stove out of wooden yardsticks, and made sure it would all work. I really had no idea what I was doing (again, spatially retarded), so I was lucky that it worked out. My paper diagrams had significantly different measurements than what ended up being the actual measurements.

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Detail of the utensil holders, before I banished all the non-black, non-stainless utensils to a drawer. Another little thing that ended up being one of our favorite features. Cutting the slate to fit around those round holes took a while. What? You don’t  store your 5-liter jugs of olive oil next to your cans o’ expanding foam?

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No more worrying about possum play dates under the sink. But whoever thought overhead power lines were a good idea should be exhumed and made to start digging ditches.