Our old house taught us well: a kitchen needs to accommodate a lot of people. Yes, by the end of the party, everyone winds up there, but it’s more than that. A kitchen with plenty of work space encourages good nutrition. In a small kitchen, there are far too many reasons to pull dinner out of a box, rather than working with fresh, whole ingredients. Let’s face it; to cook from scratch takes some counter space. Lots of counter space invites “social” cooking, too. Given a little elbow room, cooking side-by-side with other cooks is a pleasure, and I’m always thrilled to learn a trick or two from someone else’s techniques. More than that, we should welcome our children in the kitchen and instill them with a love for cooking. Their skills will literally nourish them for the rest of their lives.
No more one-bum kitchen for us. We set out to build a kitchen with ample room for lots of cooks, and keep it open for conversation with family, clients and guests. We laid out a large, open space in the heart of the front chamber, with uninterrupted counters wrapping around two sides, and a large, angled island across from it. Wide paths allow people to easily pass through without crowding those at the counters. Bar tops wrap around the outsides of the counters and the island for easy conversation and a place to eat breakfast or a snack.
We had fun choosing appliances and fixtures from various sources. I prefer to cook on fire. It helps to see the flame when adjusting. For safety reasons, the city wouldn’t allow gas lines into the cave. However, we found a wonderful Jenn-Air ceramic cooktop with interchangeable cartridges at our local Maytag store, and for those times that we want to roast a pepper over an open flame, we bought a flambé table on Ebay. Maytag also came through for us with a refrigerator and a super-quiet dishwasher. At Lowe’s we bought two convection ovens. We chose Amish-made cabinetry from the local farm store, Buchheit. Lighting came partially from Home Depot, and partially from local lighting shop, Heartland Fan and Lighting. A deep three-basin sink came from Hood’s. We found both faucets and special ordered a smaller bar sink at Home Depot.
We thought long and hard about what kind of countertops we wanted. We considered solid granite, but in the end, granite tile won. With all of the durability and ease of cleaning that a solid surface could offer, granite tile fit better in our budget. Besides that, with children there will come a day when a kitchen tool (or a hammer that doesn’t even belong in the kitchen) will win a fight with the counter. When that day comes and we see the first crack in the counter, it’s nice to know that we’ll be able to pop out one five-dollar tile, and set a new one in its place.
Credit for making the whole plan work goes to carpenter, Pat Youngman. He met the challenge of customizing the cabinetry for the island exceptionally well. Pat installed all of the cabinetry and appliances. After Pat built the wrap-around bar, our children spent countless hours sanding the wood for a very smooth finish. Eventually it all came together, and the kitchen is our favorite room in the house!