grumpy about the construction project (designing a good kitchen is hard)

If you’ve been following this sorry tale, you already know I hate my kitchen. In a beautiful home filled with quirky wood details and a lovely exterior, the kitchen is pure junk. Also the dishwasher has been broken for years now. In order to replace it, we would have had to pull up the renovation tile some bobo put in, trapping the existing dishwasher in place. Or we could have left the tile and ripped off the counter top. A Hobson’s choice to be sure, and expensive either way.

But I had a third option: refuse to do anything except renovate the whole fucking kitchen, and in the mean time make Anthony do as many dishes by hand as possible. Seen in that light, one could argue that this renovation and expansion is entirely about replacing the dishwasher.

This is a much more expensive option than the first two.

Anthony and I have owned four homes, and all of them have had shitty kitchens. Why is it so hard to design a good kitchen for a person who cooks a lot? Even big sunny kitchens can suck for a cook. A huge space just means more floor to clean, and more feet to traverse while carrying stuff from here to there, and more room for kids and dog to get underfoot.

I love a good galley kitchen. It’s what I’ve always wanted. A galley kitchen, with plenty of counters tight on both sides and very little floor to mop, where Anthony and I can cook and clean side-by-side, bumping into each other affectionately and sneaking in a few kisses —–

Sorry. This is probably not ideation I need to share with you here, in this special place where I explore my grumpy. But the fact is, I haven’t had a kitchen like that. For the past nine years, Anthony and I have grumbled incessantly about how much we miss cooking together, because our kitchen sucks so bad there’s only room for one cook in there. One person can’t even wash dishes while another cooks.

When I first called the designer we ended up hiring, I had drawn a picture of our kitchen. It looked something like this:

my drawing

My existing kitchen has about 2 linear feet of usable counter, once you plop down the necessary toaster, microwave, electric kettle (I’m married to an Englishman), and Cuisinart (I cook).  We wedge ourselves into our seats at the kitchen table for meals. (That’s the thing at the top of the picture. Those aren’t dancing D’s. They’re chairs.)

You can see from my drawing that there’s a breezeway between our house proper and the garage. Anthony had this brilliant idea to just fill the breezeway with house. It’s 7 or 8 feet wide, perfect for a small addition that makes room for a better kitchen. I did some drawings of how a kitchen might fit in that space. It seemed PERFECT for a galley kitchen — just throw it right in the breezeway, and then the existing kitchen area could become some sort of eating/living space.

Notwithstanding my steady hand and excellent drawings, we quickly realized we needed a professional. We ended up hiring AMETHYST DESIGN, run by a delightful woman named Kristi Minser, who is not only a project manager but also an architect. Yes, I’m shamelessly plugging her here without her knowledge or permission, because she is awesomeness. She doesn’t make me grumpy at all, which is a rare treat indeed because you know how irritable people make me. Kristi took our ideas and came up with some floor plans, and we had a very open back-and-forth with about eight iterations. In the end she came up with a plan that had very little to do with anything Anthony or I had ever envisioned, and it included stuff we never wanted, and it was perfect.

There is nothing better than paying a professional to do something way, way better than you can do it yourself. It amazes me how rare an experience that is.

Here’s Kristi’s professional drawing of our existing kitchen, in context with the whole house. That’s the garage out to the right.

existing first floor

Here’s what it’s going to look in four months, if all goes well:

new first floor

There’s my tidy galley, tucked in the back corner of the house. I’ll even have a door directly into the back yard, finally. And Kristi added an unexpected mudroom, which we can definitely use to keep our outdoor gear in check.

The squiggly counter is going to be a dropped bar alongside the cabinetry, at a regular-chair level. Because Princess Anthony doesn’t like sitting at counter-height stools.

But I’ll say no more of that because now I’m being rude, and anyway even the dropped bar is going to be pretty cool.