As I’ve mentioned, our kitchen has infuriatingly little cabinet and counter space for a room of its size—290 square feet thanks to a wall that was knocked down sometime before we owned the house. The storage squeeze has led to some desperate organizational measures on my part, such as converting a broom closet in the hallway into a pantry and hanging a shoe bag on the door to hold overflow items like cake and cheese knifes, an apple corer, standing mixer parts, and birthday candles.
The layout is equally irritating. It takes a person — who in this house is usually carrying a colander, handful of washed grapes, or sloshing water cup — seven steps to walk from the sink to the island, and these drippy treks have taken their toll on the wood floors. Another pet peeve: the kitchen table where we eat most of our meals is difficult to maneuver around (and impossible for my wheelchair-bound father-in-law) and perched perilously close to the stairs leading to our sunken family room.
I’ve written about enough beautiful kitchens to know roughly what I want for our space, and what we can afford. This photo from Houzz captures the essence of the modern farmhouse look I love.
What stumped us was how to transform our bowling lane-shaped kitchen with six door openings and two windows eating up precious wall space into a functional workroom. We had a couple of meetings with a designer at a local home center, who made several game-changing suggestions: position the island parallel to the long walls to gain more counter space, move family meals to the island and lose the unwieldy table, and get rid of a small north-facing window, creating a solid wall for cabinetry and appliances. But we found that working with stock cabinets in our oddly configured space made it difficult to position appliances and certain items on our wish list, such as a china cabinet and open shelves, where we wanted them. I had assumed custom cabinetry was well out of our price range until I did this interview with Ben Block of Block Brothers Custom Cabinets. Next week I’ll reveal how the red-bearded woodworker from Searsport won us over.