Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kitchen Renovation

Note: This is not my kitchen.

What do you do when you want to renovate your kitchen?

The first rule before you do anything else is: Know Thyself.

Before jumping in, take a very long think and decide what your cooking style is. Ask yourself what kind of cook you are - how you work your kitchen and how you want your kitchen to work for you.

If you're like me, you've been saving pictures of kitchens for a long time, dreaming of sailing around in your gleaming domain, giving something a stir or hauling a delectable symphony of roasted things out of the oven.

But then

You must be ze detached, calculating Hercule Poirot and analyze how your kitchen works just for you. What kind of a cook are your? A baker? A vegetarian is always working between the 'fridge and the sink? A cookbook librarian with shelves and shelves of cookbooks? Someone who buys lots of vegetables and needs a big crisper storage area in your refrigerator? Or you like to make meals ahead and freeze them? Do you cook on the fly just throwing things together?

Do you bake a lot? if so, are you tall or short? (Stiff or limber, I might add) At what height do you visualize opening an oven door and hauling out a turkey?

I am a baker (who happens to be short. There's a joke in there somewhere.) and when we went to look at stoves at Sears, I visualized lifting my much-loved, giant pro baking pan out of an oven. Honestly, some ovens on some stoves are so low, you feel like you would have to be on your hands and knees to get something out of there. You might as well kiss your back goodbye some Thanksgiving.

On the other hand, some wall ovens are mounted so high, I couldn't see into them well enough to know if something was done let alone maneuver around enough to haul anything out.* I'd need to stand on a step or something and that's not a good idea.

I know I could have an oven mounted especially low, but then just about all the storage space above and below would have to be special ordered and even then, whatever I put in the above area or the below areas would be practically dead space. So that's a waste. And boy, do I hate waste.

*I used to have a big block of wood next to my tall kiln to stand on in order to reach the bottom for loading and unloading. I had visions of my husband coming out to the studio after hearing my yells to see only my feet sticking up in the air out of the top. Now I have a 'shorty' Skutt.

Why oh why don't they make wall oven doors that ratchet upwards like a car hatchback, out of the way so you can reach right into them? Instead, you must fetch from one side of the oven or the other and rotate the dishes out to a heat-proof surface.

I did find to my surprise that I liked one particular stove with two ovens--the large oven just below the cooktop and a shorter, smaller one nearly on the floor. I reasoned that the heavy stuff would be high enough to remove comfortably and the smaller oven would work well for smaller things. Lifting small pans and dishes from nearly floor level would be easy. (Great for proofing bread, Yea.)

And, of course, for artists, looks are important. We 'see' everything. And if you're like me, you see it every time. The room you walk into and work in a good deal of the time needs to please your eye.

So the upshot of this tirade is this: Figure out what your 'Style' is; aesthetically and operationally and then start looking and looking and looking and looking and looking.......


Sister Creek Potter said...

Wonderful post--for me, for now! A great list of things for me to consider. I have decided on the dual oven range--but with the smaller oven top of larger. I expect to only use the large occasionally--and figure I can get help lifting if necessary! But, thinking about what kind of cook I am is a new way to think about the design. I have planned a significant size library shelves for my cookbook collection.
Will you have a 'contractor'? Where will you get your cabinets? I am so greateful for your help!

Jessica Peterson Blackburn said...

From one shorty to the next, I have a range with double ovens underneath and I love it. Mine has the smaller oven on top and the larger on the bottom. I find that I really like this configuration b/c most things we cook on a day-to-day basis will fit in the smaller upper oven which is, as you point out, easier to get into and takes a lot less energy and time to preheat.

Happy kitchen renovations!

Clay and Fiber Artist said...

Hey, Jess, How's that beautiful little girl!

Gaye, I do have a wonderful contractor who listens and lets me drive. heh We're getting cabinets from a local place that has a manufacturer.

Everyone says cabinets are expensive and they are, but good ones will make your kitchen. We've also ordered two huge Restoration Hardware glass door cabinets for dishes, pans, glassware, etc. They are actually cheaper than building in floor to ceiling glass cabinets.

Anonymous said...

Yes understanding our own requirement is first think that one should do. Because kitchen remodel project requires careful planning before its implementation.

Cindy P. said...

Hey - I do love Jessica's oven configuration - And if you do not have a microwave above your stove or built in ovens - I have done cabinets with "slots" to slide in all of my baking sheets, pans, sometimes even cutting boards. Excellent effficient use of storage - sounds like your remodel will be just perfect...and now you can set up your recipes on your computer or ipad eliminating some of that "cookbook storage" - of course, I have some cookbooks I still like to just "touch". Have fun!!

Jessica Peterson Blackburn said...

Regan is great! Keeping us busy (and exhausted) but very happy.