Sunday, November 4, 2007

My Kitchens

To me kitchens have always been and still are utilitarian - not the "showplaces" or "conversational areas" you see in today's homes. When we were shopping for our first condo together in 2006, we saw some great kitchens and some obscene kitchens. I knew the kitchen was important for me and these were my requirements:
  • gas stove
  • microwave oven over the stove or other area - no countertop microwave
  • large refrigerator, preferably side by side or freezer on the bottom
  • large cabinets, 42" height
  • plenty of worksurfaces
  • plenty of storage
  • no eat-in area or breakfast nook
  • granite or quartz countertops

I know that I could get by with any kitchen - hell, I even cooked in a makeshift kitchen in college with an electric wok and convection oven! And I've managed in some pretty small kitchens in my time.

The kitchen I grew up in is small - almost galley like. Two people cannot work in the same area together. Mom remodeled the kitchen in 1982 and transformed it into what she always wanted: oak cabinets, deep blue formica countertops, a dishwasher (her first!) and a trash compactor. The original electric stove has since been replaced with a gas stove.

My kitchen in San Francisco was comical. It had tall, tall cabinets but it was also where the hot water heater was located and it had an apartment style gas stove. You should have seen when I made baklava or roasted a turkey - the pans were too long and I had improvised an old broomstick to wedge between the refrigerator door and the stove door to keep it shut. Now that I look back I can't believe the meals and parties I could produce in that kitchen - it was just like the miracle of the fishes and the loaves!

My first Chicago kitchen was in the condo near Lakeshare Drive that my partner owned. It was small, 8' x 8', all white (which I despise since it is difficult to keep clean!) and had an electric stove. The dishwasher really belonged in my old San Francisco kitchen - it was literally 1/2 the width of a conventional dishwasher. Many times I just used the tried and true method of handwashing.

My kitchen now is great and I feel very at home in it. There is plenty of wall space to hang my partner's collection of Broadway posters and artwork from my dear friend Lisa Hartmann in New York. The floors are very dark oak which helps in hiding the dirt. I have a large gas stove which we christened properly during a housewarming party by burning a large pizza on the stove's bottom.

The space has almost everything I want and need except perhaps for more storage space. That's why we are currently working on a set of additional cabinets right now - and we've not been in our new place a full year yet! We were able to find the matching cabinets but insted of floor cabinets, we selected the same 42" wall cabinets and placed them on the floor. I needed wide, double-door cabinets with no dividers in the middle (for platters and baking sheets) - and a custom depth of 16" (most wall cabinets are 12"). Right now the struggle is to find matching granite for the countertop. Then I'll be all set. Until the next idea pops in my head!