De-galley-fying the kitchen

Our kitchen is tiny. It’s not a “small” kitchen, but tiny–especially when compared to the monstrosities in suburban homes; I mean, really, how is walking ten feet convenient when your hands are covered in chicken? Not as miniscule as my kitchen in my first NYC apartment (that had a refrigerator under the counter), but definitely smaller than my second apartment’s, although, in fairness, fitting a shower in the kitchen requires some real square footage.

I used to complain about the size, but I love it. Everything is in sight; everything is in reach. It’s like a more versatile version of the appetizer station in Hell’s Kitchen. Sure, sometimes I’d like if RocketMan could carve a chicken comfortably while I mash the potatoes, but you get used to small elbow room.

What really makes our kitchen work, though, is the customization. 

My favorite features

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Extended counters!

Not only have counter extensions quadrupled the original counter space, but it also resulted in what is, IMO, the most ingenius thing ever to hit a kitchen, large or small: the built-in garbage hole paired with a full cutting-board surface. The countertop is made from the same plastic you find in basic cutting boards, bought at Tap Plastics for all of $40. The surface was originally plywood, but a leaky faucet and the need for a cutting board (extra space! Boo!) inspired RocketMan to take the plastic route. It’s easy to clean–no oils required–and sanitary; I cut chicken AND veggies on it. (Not in that order, so don’t worry.) Occasionally the surface stains a bit, and a little Bar Keeper’s Friend whitens it up well enough.

Warning, though: If you take out the trash mid-cooking, don’t forget to replace the bag. Not to say I’ve swept a pile of brussel sprout leaves into an empty hole or anything; just making sure YOU don’t. 

   

  • Another quick note: love the magnetic knife strip. Brilliant invention.
  • See the corkboard? I tack up recipes (CI’s French Chicken in a Pot, in this case), notes, any other reminders we need.

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The slightly less spectacular, but no less useful, counter extension is on the opposite side of the sink. It’s a plywood shelf unit that joins the sink to the fridge (really, people; why build the sink a foot away from the fridge?). It’s probably not stable enough to stand on its own, but does fine with the support of three walls surrounding it.

  • A flower pot weighted with stones is our utensil holder.
  • We experimented with every drying rack that’s out there until we finally went with this basic model. This isn’t the exact version we have, but it’s close: Bamboo Wood Plate Rack. It takes up very little space and holds enough dishes for our needs.
  • See the writing near the top of our fridge? That’s our grocery list. A dry-erase marker is Velcro-stuck to the side for easy access.
  • The orange and black mats are the kind bars use to keep floors from gettin’ all slippy in the liquor.
  • A similar rack is on the refrigerator, for drying glasses.

Did I mention RocketMan is a bartender?

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  • The bottom shelf–OK, the floor–is for cutting boards and cookie sheets, big flat stuff we can wash easily.
  • Middle shelf: Cereal, and in the back, the blender. He’s a bartender, but he’s not big into the daiquiris.

Pegboard!

Julia Child was right–pegboards rock the kitchen. While we decided polka dots were more fun than outlines of our tools, it works as well as she suggested it would. 

  • All of the smaller, more frequently-used items at the bottom, within easy reach; the mandolin requires a stepstool. (BTW, I recommend everything you see here, including the melon baller–it’s a great tool from getting olives out of tall jars!) 
  • As you can see, on each side of the pegboard are simple, Container Store wire racks–wall racks on the left, grid system on the right.  Keyword here is modular!

FYI, I’m leaning as far back over the opposite counter as I can to get these three photos.     
 

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Shelves, shelves, shelves!

For a while there, I’d come home from work and spend ten minutes looking for the sugar, or the couscous, or the tea; turns out it had a new shelf. We’ve more or less maxed out the potential shelf space in the kitchen, and it’s the last place I’d want to be in an earthquake (death by couscous jar is not how I want to go), but when you need the space, you need the space!     

  • We love the stackable, square pop containers from the Container Store (there’s that name again).
  • The wood mostly comes from Cole Hardware–just your basic stained plywood. 
  • Doesn’t the watering can look pretty?
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Hang it up!

In a kitchen, I find few things more frustrating than getting on my knees to dig in a dark cupboard through stacks of frickin’ pots and pans. And then ANOTHER stack for the lids. Not only can it be nothing but bad for the pots, but it’s a monstrous pain in the back, literally. And dark cupboards creep me out–dark corners invite insects. Hang it from the ceiling, stick it in a wall, anywhere–hanging your pots will save loads of counter and cabinet space, they look attractive, they’re easier to get–just do it! 

  • Flower pot screwed into the wall–wooden spoons–and the other hanging utensils. It’s a theme.
  • The shelf above the stove? Also plywood. I do recommend you only include non-perishables or frequently-used items above the stove, especially if you don’t have a hood (we don’t). Vinegar gets cooked in its bottles, and that lovely oil you use as a topper at the end of pasta dishes? The bottle becomes coated in a thick rime of kitchen!schmeg. 
  • In the foreground: the little hickeydo stuck to the column. It’s our instant-read thermometer. RocketMan loves him some sticky Velcro, and I love him for it.

Addition: I found this amazing Kitchen Armoire on the blog Small Space Living. It’s almost $10k, but if anyone out there buys it, promise me you’ll name it Optimus Prime.

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7 Responses to De-galley-fying the kitchen

  1. anna says:

    i love your kitchen! it’s adorable! and l might borrow some of your ideas)

  2. Melinda says:

    I love it! Especially the cutting board…how awesome is Tap?

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  6. Hi there! I realize this is somewhat off-topic however I needed
    to ask. Does building a well-established blog such as yours require
    a large amount of work? I’m brand new to writing
    a blog however I do write in my diary daily.
    I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my own experience and
    feelings online. Please let me know if you have
    any ideas or tips for new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

    • Jody says:

      It can be as much or as little work as you like. I’m pretty busy these days, with a full-time job and two small kids, so I’m lucky if I can post once a month (if that). But you can post a lot or a little, and generally speaking, be prepared to spend at least an hour per post (with writing time and photo editing).

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