Does Your Kitchen Really Love You?
Let Your Kitchen Reflect Your Personality!
How do you use your kitchen? If you like to cook, what do you like to prepare? Hearty meals for the whole family? Pies and cakes for the neighbors and the office? Quick and easy dinners or slow cooking meals? Maybe you aren't into cooking but love to spend time in your kitchen doing other things such as reading the paper, drinking tea or even entertaining.
When you think of your kitchen you might think of it as just the place where food is stored and prepared, but your kitchen is so much more. In many cases it's the most commonly used room in the home. It's where meals are planned and prepared as well as the gathering point for the family. The kitchen is also the place where people gravitate during social functions.
All too often we settle for the kitchen we are given. But when our kitchen doesn't serve us and the things we like to do it can be both frustrating and discouraging. If this sounds like you there is something you can do something about it.
In an ideal situation your kitchen should reflect you. It should have a personality so to speak that both supports the activities you like to do in the kitchen as well as be a positive reflection of your own personality to your guests. Believe it or not, the "kitchen of your dreams" might not be the one loaded up with the latest and greatest in culinary gadgetry. The right kitchen for you is not the one that was featured on the cover of Martha Stewart Living—your perfect kitchen is one that directly improves your life.
You can have a baker's kitchen, a crafty kitchen, even a nature-lover's kitchen! It's completely up to you. Changes both small and large often have a huge impact on this particular room.
To start, we need to assess your kitchen's current personality. This is your chance to decide what you really need and want out of your kitchen and then how to get there. To give you some ideas on how to figure this out, here are some common kitchen personalities. Your kitchen may not fall into a specific category, but might be a blend of two or even three different personality types. The trick here is to discover where you are and where you want to go to give you the kitchen you actually have been dreaming of.
If you've been called a "foodie," a gourmet, or just someone who takes their meals pretty seriously, then your kitchen should be outfitted with professional quality gear. You probably have a fair amount of equipment already, but investing in top-quality pots and pans is a good idea. Hanging them from a pot rack gives you quick access and saves storage space. For those pieces you'd like to stash down below, get extra-sturdy cabinet drawers that are wide enough to accommodate a couple of pots and pans.
Jane Tip: It's often our tendency that only the pots that look the prettiest get the rack space. But according to many of the "foodies" in the Be Jane community, there's sometimes nothing that whets the appetite more than a pan or pot that looks like it has a few gourmet meals under its belt (or handle).
Keep utensils (and we know you have a lot of them) organized with cutlery drawers. And we aren't talking one of those plastic fork/knife/spoon plastic numbers from the dollar store! Shop around for detailed inserts that fit into the drawers or build your own. Just make sure you take accurate measurements beforehand as many of the choices out there are larger than your drawer space allows.
A crucial component of food preparation is ample counter space. There are a number of things you can do to increase yours. First off, pull off anything from your counter that you don't use on a daily basis. The bread maker that you use once a month belongs under the counter or even in a closet in another room. A kitchen island is always a bonus, plus most of them are equipped with cabinets and drawers for more storage space. If this isn't within your budget or space, you can always build your own relatively inexpensive island or butcher block table. Consider purchasing a utility cart to house a number of your counter space stealing items such as a knife block or electric can opener.
If you're in the market for new appliances look at those options that will help you to maximize your space such as an under cabinet microwave or can opener. You might consider installing an appliance lift (an under cabinet mounted, spring-action unit that brings heavy appliances to counter top level when needed and stored away when not) to get bulky appliances like a blender or food processor out of the way when not in use, but keeps them at the ready with just a flick of a lever.
People who love to entertain should have a kitchen that helps them show their guests a good time. Inevitably, everyone ends up in the kitchen at a party and who can blame them? It's where all the food and drink is stashed! Plus, it's the one place in the home where spills don't really matter!
If you like to play hostess in your kitchen, make sure any furniture (such as barstools or chairs) is comfortable. All too often we eat and immediately leave the table, but your guests will resist this urge if the ambiance is right. For more of this said ambiance add a dimmer switch or two to your kitchen. You may be thinking, "But, I need all the light I can get!" This is true—when working in the kitchen we need to be able to see what's going on—but softer light can come in handy. In fact, we would be willing to bet that you will be surprised how much you will use it.
Jane Tip: Dimmer switches can NOT be installed on a fluorescent light.
Another fantastic option for the entertainer is an open floor plan where guests can mingle between the living/dining room and the kitchen. Consider this idea if you are planning a major remodel of your kitchen. Also known as a "great room", these floor plans are terrific for the entertainer who craves a large kitchen but hates to be sequestered to it. If a complete redo isn't in your immediate future you can create the illusion of a great room by opening up a wall between the kitchen and another room. A large hole in between the two rooms allows you to chat with your guests without having them get in your way.
Keep the music pumping in the kitchen by bringing in a wireless speaker or two from your stereo system.
The Wine Lover
Chianti, Cabernet, Chardonnay—if this is your idea of a good time then you should outfit your kitchen accordingly. One of the first appliances you should splurge on to pamper your inner cognoscente is a wine refrigerator. For roughly $150.00 and up, you can have wine chilled to perfection, not to mention a ton of storage for your collection. We recommend you shop around for a wine fridge, since they can be picked up anywhere from Sears, to Home Depot, to Target and vary widely in cost and quality.
For those evenings where you will play host to a tasting or two, wine glass holders are a great extra to have. Simply screw them into the underside of your existing cabinets and insert the glasses upside down. These simple and inexpensive racks free space in your cabinets and provide easy access to your glasses.
No wine lover can go without a wine rack, and picking one out can be fun. These days, manufacturers offer cabinets with wine racks already built-in, so consider one if you are in the market for new cabinetry.
Jane Tip: Be careful not to install a wine rack near a heat source such as a dishwasher or even a heat-generating refrigerator. Remember, heat destroys wine, so consider this when looking for your wine rack locale.
Other options include racks of all sizes made of just about anything, from wood to plastic. If you are just starting your collection, buy a line that allows you to store racks on top of one another so you can expand your collection as fast or as slow as you wish. More great accessories include bottle openers that you can attach to your kitchen cabinets, an iceless wine chiller for the kitchen table and of course the stoppers and pumps that extend the life of your half-full bottles. Cheers!
The Office Manager:
For some reason the kitchen table is often the place where we sort through mail, pay bills and even start a home based business. If you find that you use your kitchen as an office then you have a true multi-use kitchen and you will need to build it out accordingly.
If you like working from the kitchen table then consider purchasing storage bins or building out a cubby so that you can store away important documents when the kitchen is being used for other purposes. Organization will be your true key to success here.
If your computer is stored in the kitchen make sure you keep it away from any possible contact with food spills. The last thing you want is mac and cheese on your keyboard.
You may also want to consider building a curtain or divider to separate the "work space" from the eating space. You may not be able to fully relax while eating dinner if your work is staring at you during the course of the meal!
The Zen Master
Some of us use our kitchen for relaxing. Invest in super-comfortable furniture, paint the walls a calming hue, and add all of your creature comforts, (even if they aren't intended for the typical kitchen.) Try to think of ways that you can blend those things that relax you and calm your mind while at the same time, keeping your kitchen fully functional. Add a bit of music or mood lighting to feed both your spirit and your body.
Jane Tip: Be careful of things like incense which can alter the taste of your foods while they burn.
We want you to know that the kitchen is about so much more than food. Once you find the personality that fits best with your own needs and desires, than you can create the kitchen you have always wanted. If you are living with a kitchen that you can't stand, do something about it. Remember, even small changes in the kitchen can go a long, long way. The power to change your kitchen into a place you love to be is in your (drill-wielding) hands!