Kitchen Space Rant

I don’t know of any kinder, gentler way of putting this:

Our kitchen, like too many apartment kitchens, was designed for the culinarily-impaired.

The only cabinets that are not too shallow to hold any pots and pans are so high up that even Tall Neighbor Downstairs needs a ladder – not a step-stool – to reach them. (Old house, 9-foot ceilings, top shelf of cabinets flush with ceiling.) The same cabinets are the only cabinets whose shelves are at the same time tall enough to store anything taller than a half-liter bottle of olive oil and deep enough to store anything larger than a small box of raisin bran turned sideways. What counter space there is can barely hold an “apartment-sized” drainboard. In short, not a kitchen designed for real-people-who-actually-cook.

As a result, the microwave permanently sits in a corner of the “kitchen table” with the toaster oven and the coffee grinder sitting atop it, and the automatic coffeemaker poised next to that stack. The rest of the larger small appliances (blender, crockpot, etc.) are stowed in their original boxes under the kitchen table. A few of the smaller electrical appliances actually do fit in the bottom cabinets surrounding the sink… but it’s a major pain to get those cabinets to open. The pots are “stored” in a stack on one of the back burners of the stove; the mixing bowls and casserole dishes are “stored” in the oven (when said oven is not in use) or atop the stove (when the oven is in use). We keep a couple of bowls and small plates in the cabinet above the sink, but if we need “dinner” plates, we use Chinet or plastic. Dinner plates Do Not Fit in the cabinets.

We’ve still managed to completely fill the Lilliputian cabinets – with boxes of storage bags, thermoses, breakfast cereal, a few baking supplies, some canned soups (emergency rations), and a few spices – but many items, such as my various cooking and finishing oils, and vinegars, are too tall to fit in the cabinets. Instead, they sit on a (second) corner of the kitchen table in a wooden box that once held 5 lb of clementines. Similar boxes on the table contain whatever kitchen gadgets can’t be hung from hooks on the wall, bags of assorted dried chili peppers, and garlic. What little space remains is often occupied by whatever snacks I need to let The Other Half know exists: if they are not in line of sight between the kitchen door and the coffeemaker, they might as well not exist for him.

Some time ago, we put up shelves in a shallow (7" deep) alcove just outside the kitchen, thinking this would ease the kitchen-table overcrowding. It hasn’t really: while one shelf stores baking dishes and paper plates, another is completely filled with multiple wooden boxes of spices and seasonings, and several types of flour. The remaining shelf is also overflowing with dry kitchen staples.

The collapsible “in case we need extra space anywhere in the apartment” table has become my prep table.

Twice a year, everything visible has to be packed away completely, and a different set of utensils, cooking oils, and staples unpacked. These two occurrences are about a week and a half apart. This is the week of Passover.

This year, I tried to use the de-mob to get the kitchen a bit more organized going forward. I’ve moved off, into places reachable only by Tall Ladder, about half of what usually stows under the table. I’ve asked The Other Half to move the non-kitchen stuff he’s insisted we stow under the kitchen table out to the store room we rent. [NOTE: apartment living = no attic, no basement, no storage area = have to rent a store room offsite] I’ve moved a chunk of the on-table items to a taboret that fits under the table. I’ve purchased a bunch of see-thru bins to put away all the rest of the stuff. I cleared out so much of the under-table area that I expected to be able to stow empty boxes from Passover stuff without having to trip over my whole kitchen for a week and a half.

The space is completely filled, but I’m still tripping over boxes of Passover dishes.

What’s worse, I’m still without space on the main kitchen table.


Hope this straightens up once the Passover stuff is packed back up and moved to the store room for another year…