Our house was built with a laundry closet in the kitchen. Now, I am positive that for a great majority of the population, this is a perfectly reasonable arrangement. But, since I am married to a rancher, there was just no way this was going to work for us. The Husband frequently comes in the house covered in bovine excrement and hydraulic oil, and those are two things that I feel just don’t belong near the area where I prepare food. We put the laundry area in our mudroom, and it was good.
Initially, I thought the laundry closet would make a great pantry, and we installed the dishwasher in there (since there was already hot water and a drain in place, it just made sense) to avoid giving up any of the meager cabinet space in the kitchen. It functioned fairly well, but there was a problem. Storing flour, cereal, oatmeal and the like in an enclosed space that was frequently warm and humid (remember the dishwasher) encouraged…bugs. Once I realized that my pantry, and not my choice of grocery store was the problem, something had to be done immediately.
I concluded that since the dishwasher was already in the closet, and I was still not willing to give up a base cabinet in order to move it, it would make putting dishes away much less of a chore if they were stored nearby. So I pulled everything out, inspected and tossed, wiped down the shelves and counter top and then took a critical look at the dishes. I sorted, purged, arranged, and rearranged until I was satisfied. Over the course of the last year, I have changed things around, purged more dishes, and replaced a couple of appliances, but over all, I am really pleased with the switch.
What I, and The Husband, learned from rearranging the kitchen:
*No man needs 4 cubic feet of snack foods (seriously!), no matter how healthy he tells himself they are, and no matter how far he lives from the grocery store.
*Christmas cookie tins are cute, and they can be useful, but they won’t find sanctuary in my kitchen.
*Our “space-saving” blender/food processor combo did neither job well, and it was OK to donate it so that someone with less demanding needs could get some good out of it.
*It really doesn’t matter that the bifold pantry doors are oak veneered and were brand new when we bought the house almost 7 years ago. They were still ugly, they still made the kitchen look small, and they were still a nuisance to open and close every time we wanted something out of the pantry. I really expected a battle over removing them, but The Husband surprised me. He just got out the drill and took them down. The kitchen looks so much bigger now, and there is just a little bit less honey oak to look at.
I don’t have any before pics, because I misplaced the camera for about 6 weeks (you won’t believe this, but it was exactly where I left it), but I do have plenty of “after” pics:
I can reach all of the dishes that I use regularly without a step stool, and there are no piles of mismatched glass bakeware waiting to fall on my head. I used wire shelves and lid racks to keep everything arranged safely. The paper plates, cups and plastic silverware have a visible home, so I don’t wind up buying more of what I already have. I don’t have to dig through all of the other cleaning chemicals to find the dishwasher detergent (Yes, there’s a lot there. We’ll use it all up eventually, and no more trying new things because I now know what works with my water).
There is a stable surface under my grain mill, juicer, food processor and stand mixer. The parts and accessories are hung on the wall, so I no longer have to go digging through a cabinet to find them. I actually use them now! The plastic wrap, aluminum foil and waxed paper (all of which I use very rarely) are hung on a wall dispenser, which allows me to use my few kitchen drawers for other things. I moved the paper towels into the dish closet too. I have found that by putting them in a less convenient place, I only use them when they are truly the best tool for the job.
There is now a home for all of my kitchen towels, spare pads for my floor steamer, the extra mop head, pot scrubbers and sponges, wipes for grubby little faces, dish cloths, freezer bags, parchment paper and my rolling pin.
It’s not perfect, but nothing really ever is. The important thing is that it’s better.