Sunday, May 18, 2014

Diary of a Dive - Part 3

I know it's been eons since I posted, and I have been working on projects for the apartment, just in bits and parts.  I wanted to post updates in some sort of order, but of course, in order is not how projects actually got done.

So in keeping with my vision, here's what happened to the rest of the kitchen once I finally got all the pieces in place.  (You can see the entirety of the sink side of the kitchen in the previous blog post: Diary of a Dive - part 2.  You can see what the whole hot mess looked like originally in Diary of a Dive - Part 1)

With no cabinets big enough in the kitchen to fit pots and pans, I had to get creative. I came across a clearance curtain rod for a mere $6, and hung that over the range to hang the smaller pots, pans and lids. I used cheapo shower curtain metal rings that I bent so that the pots would hang sideways.

I also purchased a two sided cast iron grill/griddle that doubles as drop off space for the small 24" range.  Plus I can make pancakes on one side, turn it over and grill a steak or whatever on the other. Small kitchens have to do multiple tasks in limited space.

An added shelf on top of the range hides an unsightly gap and creates extra space for small kitchen do-dads. The original install for the gas line was a bit sloppy, and it required that the range be pulled away from the wall several inches to accommodate the pipe that stuck out too far from that wall.  That created a 24" wide and several inch deep hole for stuff to fall down behind the range. (Ugh!!! So annoying!) Not to mention, it looked awful. The quick shelf fix killed two birds with one stone.

Also note the marble lazy Susan you can see in the right hand corner. I purchased this some time ago when Cost Plus World Market still carried this wonderful item. It's been a life saver! After some years in restaurant environments, I'd become a grab and run cook (or maybe I was always that way). I don't want to dig for things I use all the time, and since this kitchen has only 2 drawers anyway (and those are only 9" wide on the interiors), I needed something that would solve those issues. The lazy Susan holds a utensil holder, olive oil decanter, butter crock, wine bottle ...and a variety of other items I use all the time to cook with.

And Look! I finally found all my coffee cups!

But the biggest score was the work island. (See photo below). The apartment had just a vacant hole next to the refrigerator. Since the existing countertop on the sink side of the kitchen was barely large enough to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on, I was in serious need of a countertop area big enough to actually prep a meal at...or at least something more substantive than a PBJ.

I had wandered into the thrift store hoping to find silverware inserts for my tiny drawers. But there in the parking lot, was the perfect sized rolling cart island, complete with marble top, a decent sized drawer and even a roll out inside the cabinet. An open shelf area accommodated a long basket I already had that just happened to fit perfectly into the space. It even had a built in knife block. God was definitely smiling on me that day!
Cost: A whopping $125.  Easily one of the best and most fortuitous purchases I've ever stumbled upon.
The kitchen is tiny, only 7'10" wide x 7' 3" long, so getting a decent shot of this is difficult, but you get the idea...

As a kitchen designer, one of my favorite items is the spice drawer insert, and I always suggest this to my clients. If you're a little 5' squirt like me (and even if you aren't) one of the most difficult things is trying to find your spices in an upper cabinet. Stuff gets buried, and to find anything in the back requires pulling out all the things in front of it to get at it.  I can barely reach anything at all on the second shelf of a cabinet without a stool, so upper cabinets for food and spice storage is rather useless for me. Dishes yes. Spices no.

So the spice insert in a drawer suits me perfectly. You see exactly what you need in an instant, pull it out, use it, and it goes right back into its 'space'. No muss, no fuss, no digging.
Some folks like to arrange them alphabetically. I have them arranged as I tend to use them: baking spices first, cooking herbs next, and novelty or less used items following.
And the spice insert actually holds quite a bit for the space it takes up. I have 24 spice bottles that fit in this rack which is less than 15 inches wide. (There is another row behind the 3 you see. The drawer on the island isn't a full extension, so I do have to do a little jockeying to get to the very last row. I put spices there I don't use pumpkin pie spice.) The in drawer spice holder is by Rev A Shelf. Order it online from them. You can thank me later...

The island solved a lot of problems, but I still didn't have storage for most things your average kitchen has. Mixing bowls, pie plates, roasting pans, name it.

So I purchased some shelves and metal brackets at the local home improvement store and installed them. The decorative shelf at the top I already had. I previously had used it over my full size bed as a sort of headboard. Since I'm living in a studio now and I don't have a full bed in it, my lovely carved shelf needed a new home. It was installed over the basic shelving to top it off.

I realize that most people don't care for open shelving, but this is a studio rental, and I'm more interested in inexpensive functionality in a tiny space than trying to create a showcase kitchen (which I would normally be doing for a client). My own personal kitchens however are workhorses.  I actually cook...and I fully admit I'm a messy and impatient one.  Open shelving makes for more grab and run- just like a restaurant kitchen.

You'll note that even though my storage is open shelving, I do have a penchant for buying nice looking bowls and pans in screaming red, and therefor my open storage at least appears somewhat decorative.

Now the following is the item that has been holding up my blog post on finishing the kitchen, as this little ditty was going to set me back a bit. Get one that is a standard 12-18" deep from your average big box store, they cost about $50 and you pull it right off the shelf.  I only had 10".  Cost for that special size? Three times as much and it had to be special ordered over the internet and shipped via UPS. So I held off on that purchase for awhile so that I could pay for other rent, car insurance, food, know, those pesky, basic expenses.

This is a rolling pantry cart that holds my super heavy Kitchenaid mixer (which of course, wouldn't fit anyplace else), a couple other small appliances, cookbooks and mostly pantry items. Small containers from the dollar store fit on it 2 deep. I purchased some chalk labels from Cost Plus World Market to attach to the fronts of them so that they could be marked for whatever I happened to be storing in them at the moment. Nuts, grains, rice, pasta, baking soda - whatever.

A chalkboard I removed from something else got attached with magnets to the refrigerator for my 'to do' list, since I can't seem to remember diddly squat unless it's staring me in the face. In my defense, it's probably because the 'to do' list is always much too long, but I have to admit, checking things off really does give me a feeling of accomplishment.

...or at least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Next post: The Hutch