Room by Room: The Kitchen

Room by Room: The kitchen

After receiving such interest in my "Making our homes comfortable" and "Do you need help" blog posts, I thought I would expand on this by going from room to room over the next few months.

I thought I would focus on making our homes comfortable, ways to become more organised, home decorating, ideas for storage and just general information that might be useful.

I am no expert on home decorating, my home is designed for comfort first and foremost because it if isn't comfortable, then what is the point of all our hard work.  Secondly I am a very practical/organised girl and in each room I share you will see this coming through, I don't have time for lots of frills and personally I am not into that sort of decorating. Working full time does limit me, however what we have works for us, its easy to manage, easy to keep clean and we are very comfortable in our little home. 

I thought I would start with the most important room in the house - the KITCHEN.

This is the heart of the home and where much of the activity occurs.

Below are photos of my kitchen to give you an idea of my kitchen. It isn't anything fancy and it may not be to everyone's taste which is ok, as each of us will have different ideas of what should or shouldn't be in a kitchen. We will each have a kitchen that meets our needs and that is what is important about this room - it needs to work for you.  However this can be tricky if renting and  you need to find some clever ideas for things like storage and bench space if they are limited. 


Our kitchen isn't large, in fact it is quite compact.  But when we had it renovated, we asked a kitchen company to design the layout and whilst small, it works very well. The most important element of a kitchen for me is the large bench tops and mine are a good size for spreading out when cooking.  In fact a couple of us can cook in this space without too much trouble. It also has a very good linkage between the oven/hotplates, sink, microwave and fridge so everything is close by.

It isn't a kitchen with too many nooks and crannies, which means cleaning is quite straight forward. No one wants to spend hours cleaning and most of us don't have hours to spend - so make sure your kitchen is simple to keep clean.  But when it comes to cleaning - clean everyday. It is easier to maintain a kitchen than to leave it a week and then clean - so MUCH MORE work.  Here are few things I do that makes my kitchen and I happy!!

Wipe down the benches after every meal

Keep an eye out for dirty spots on cupboards doors, its surprising how dirty they can get

Sweep or vacuum the floor daily

Put fresh tea-towels, pot holders and clothes in the kitchen daily

Keep a close watch on left-overs in the fridge, clean the fridge regularly. Keep an eye on use-by-dates

Wipe down any messes in the microwave as they happen (train your children to do likewise)

Keep your oven and hotplates clean (my husband cleans my oven)

Give your sink a good scrub every night (this is a quick job done once the dishes are washed)

Take the rubbish out daily.

And never go to bed leaving a pile of dirty dishes - they are a horrible and depressing sight first thing in the morning.


The fitted kitchen, as most of us have, is only a new invention, prior to World War One (even later in farm house kitchens), kitchens were a series of cupboards and dressers (similar to the one below) with a stove and icebox.  We can thank the Germans for the more streamline (efficient) kitchens we have today and in particular Austrian born Grete Schutte-Lihotzky who wanted a layout that "empowered women, the faster they could finish their domestic duties, the more time they'd have for factory work or leisure" (source) She saw that women's struggle for economic independences meant that housework needed to be streamlined, in particular the kitchen. 

This is interesting as most of us see the kitchen as a hive of activity, a place of gathering and lingering, the heart of the house - in fact making it a place that we can use quickly then leave is in fact a very different perspective of the room. It looses its important and warmth. I doubt many of you have ever looked at your modular kitchen and realised the philosophy that sits behind it. It is, to be honest, a feminist construct. Regardless of this, our kitchens can still be the beating heart of the home, a place of delicious smells and wonderful creations for the family.


Last year I bought an old fashion (war time) dresser and find it so useful for all my glass canisters. I love being able to quickly glance and see if any need to be replenished. This makes a trip to the supermarket much easier and quicker. These canisters were little more expensive so I spread out the cost by buying a few each week. My husband did worry that I might not be able to stop buying them!! I have as I have run out of room :))


I wanted a space for all my big appliances that I use often (such as the food processor, slow cooker and stand mixer). This shelving (which I bought from Office Works for under $100) is ideal. To jazz it up a little I bought baskets from the Dollar Store in red (which is a colour that runs through my kitchen) and added some fairy lights I had. It works very well. 



I love bowls and I have quite a collection which we use often. I try and find things that are colourful and add cheeriness to the kitchen. I am less about frills and more about colour. The spatula came from Aldi and it a fun thing to have! I have lots of those little trays and use them all the time - they are pretty and practical. 

One doesn't need to spend big to add the "little extras" to create a homely and  inviting room. You just need to keep an eye out for little bits and pieces that can added to the space. I do tend to focus on practical - so whilst the measuring cups look special (likewise the spatula), they are all useful. 

My other piece of advice for kitchens - don't fill it with appliances you will only use once. Buy wisely, otherwise you will fill your kitchen to overflowing. Don't overcrowd your kitchen.

And when buying appliances go for quality, they might cost more, but it likely to last much longer.


PS the kitchen has one other very important function besides being the place to prepare meals - it is the classroom where we teach the next generation the love of cooking - girls and boys alike. Make it a fun place with lots of colour and activity!



A few storage ideas for a kitchen. The blackboard can be so handy and this one takes up no space as its on the back of a door. I also like the toolshed style board for handing all the tools of the kitchen. Pinterest is full of wonderful and creative ideas for our kitchens. 


You can find all sorts of plates and bowls at second hand stores, including these lovely pyrex dishes. I just love the range of colours and styles and they add life to ones kitchen.



*****

Comments

  1. I love having a practical but comfortable kitchen -- and having it clean is integral. I love big benches, and I am so very thankful for a big pantry to help keep my kitchen comfortable and practical too. I need to get some extra things for my kitchen to make the best use of the space I have, but it's a slow process because kitchen extras are non-essential and not the first thing we put on our budget! But in time it will be nice to have it all properly organised. In the meantime, we keep it as well as we can and ENJOY our time spent in there as much as we can. :) This post has some great advice and ideas, Jo! :) (I love having a red theme in my kitchen, too!)

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    1. I use to have a really daggy kitchen and for many years did the best I could. When we could finally afford a new kitchen I enjoyed and valued it a lot more. It has also taken me time to buy the appliances/extras I really wanted. But the need to wait makes them more enjoyed as you know the effort you put into getting them :) I think it is important to teach children that they can’t have everything they want NOW which is the mantra of the modern age. My parents gradually added to their material goods rather than bought new all at once, it is a valuable lesson to teach and show children.

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  2. SO many things tips there! Some of them I thought - "hey I do that" - but there were others that seem a bit beyond my reach. Ad you know my kitchen is small too, but it works for me, and actually there isn't much I would change =) Contentment is a wonderful thing =)
    love,
    Bets

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    1. Contentment certainly is! I have had some very average kitchens in my lifetime and each one I was able to "pretty up" and make enjoyable to work in even if they didn't look that great (except for one rental where I refused to put things in the cupboards as they were gross!! but boxes did the trick!!). I think we get use to our spaces and make the most of them and you are probably able to move around your kitchen much better these days than you might have done at first :))

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  3. Hey Jo, this is a great post with some great ideas in it. I love the look of your kitchen and I agree that bench top space is one of the keys to having a clean and organised kitchen and to also keep on top of little messes before they become big ones. Thank you for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

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    1. Thanks Terri, my last kitchen had a tiny bench that was half the width of a standard bench, that was a challenge with small children :))

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  4. I loved this post Jo as I love kitchens :) Yours is organized nicely and I like the functioning but pretty pieces. We have a small kitchen so pretty but practical items is what I use to decorate too. Your tips are wonderful :) Thank you for sharing on the Art of Home-Making Mondays. I am going to pin this :)

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    1. Pretty and practical is my sort of thing!!!

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  5. Looks pretty organized and I like how you are going room to room.

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    1. Thanks Deborah - I thought it would be fun!!

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  6. What an interesting post! I love the history lesson among the tips. :) Thank you for the work you did in putting this together. :)

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    1. Thank Joy for visiting :) I had fun doing the research.

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  7. I lovely look at your kitchen! Thanks so much for sharing! :)

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    1. Thanks Katy for dropping by :))

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  8. Lots of great ideas here! I love your philosophy on a little cleaning every day. We try to do that too.

    Pinned to Pinterest, and visiting from #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup :)

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    1. Thanks Betsy - I do my whole house this way, it means no one big clean and makes life so much easier. :)))

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  9. Your kitchen is an inspiration.

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