Posted on September 13 2022
Those who have followed my blogs the last few years know that I’m kitchen obsessed. Since we did our own dream kitchen, I have devoured anything on this topic, pouring through magazines, glued to watching social media videos and TV shows. We are currently mulling over the idea of completely overhauling our recreational property kitchen in cottage/cabin country. We inherited a second hand, rather spread out kitchen situation that does not work for us at all.
One good reason to think about a renovation like this in the summer is to make sure all your ducks are in a row, plan and make your purchases ahead of time. So when you get to off peak months, you can fully devote your time and energy into a project like this one.
Where do I begin to vent about our cottage kitchen space?! The cabinets themselves are a throwback to an era best left behind. And it was years later I discovered they are actually mismatched, with two very different door designs. I was after all distracted by their strangely orange hue and aggressive wood graining. The panel details remind me of something from a Spaghetti Western. Husband’s family did buy them on the cheap but they’re certainly not very cheerful. The doors are designed in an annoying way that one has to be opened first before the second can. No amount of paint and hardware pimping can disguise the ugliness of them. But the most offending element is that there is zero function in its layout. At first glance, the kitchen looks expansive and generous. Having worked in it for years, it’s really not that way at all. There are small amounts of cabinetry spread out so the working triangle is more like an amoeba!
Canadian cottages have traditionally been designed in a very peculiar way, and ours is no exception. “Front doors” face the lake. “Back doors” face the road. The back is where all the action is in terms of loading and unloading the car and main way in and out. So why is the kitchen positioned there? Husband is always coming and going whilst working so he comes in dirty with dirty tools in hand. The landing spot is a section of kitchen counter, right near the sink and the dishes. This makes no sense to me.
We have come to the conclusion that we need new cabinetry and to relocate the kitchen to an adjacent area of the cottage, currently used as the dining space, although a part of it is the sprawled kitchen as well. And the new kitchen will break all the rules applied to city ones, and for good reason. We also plan to knock down a small wall, which currently makes for tight circulation and blocks the lovely view of the lake from the back of the cottage. We have done our research – ie. Husband has ventured into the attic space to confirm that this small wall is not load bearing.
Our attempts to lighten this short wall. 3 people one paintbrush!
Our shared belief has been that elaborate cooking is best left in the city. Weekend jaunts should be casual and easy without hours of toiling in a hot kitchen. Our new space will reflect that belief but not skimp on style.
We plan to purchase the cabinetry from IKEA. Although at this point, I’m not sure if the global supply chain issues will make it difficult or not to get the components we will need. The new layout will be a straightforward line so it will be easier to install and design. The island will also serve as our dining table. Merging 2 functions into one space allows for better flow and to reinforce the simplicity we crave for a holiday home. Some may frown on this decision wondering how not to hurt our backs working on a dining table which is about 8 inches shorter than a standard kitchen island. Also, more people are comfortable eating on regular chairs rather than taller stools. Our solution is a clever one. We will use height adjustable desk legs, electrically powered and managed with the push of a button. We can raise it to counter height when needed, then lower when we are dining. We plan to have 2 long tables, one that is adjustable and one that is not. That way we have the best of both worlds
We plan to have open shelving and minimal closed upper cabinets. I would normally “poopoo” such an impractical idea when verbalized by others!
‘What?! You don’t want storage and open shelves are just dust catchers! What are you thinking?!’
Now hear me out! I believe a holiday home should only have the essentials and we shouldn’t be looking for ways to accumulate and over-organize. To live simply is the name of the game as the more stuff we have, the more maintenance is required. We go up for weekends and that means we would really prefer not to have double the workload. And more importantly, we don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night and realize that we left some food behind that would inevitably grow in moldy confidence for us to tackle the next time we go up. That has happened a few times before. Lucky for us back then, husband’s aunt and uncle were next door to save the day. Since they sold their home and moved out west, we no longer have this safety net, so we need to be super vigilant moving forward.
I like the idea of everything on a single shelf, so we can see what we brought up and what we need to take home at the end of the weekend. We often have overnight visitors and their stuff can easily fit on the shelf so there is no confusion about who brought what. Guests can easily serve themselves without playing ‘hide and go seek’ with shared supplies. And we don’t have to meet up later to swap items mistakenly placed in our bags.
Our new next door neighbor is a contractor! How’s that for kismet?! We’re barely past the polite conversation stage, but we hope to lean on his expertise if required.
I had hoped to start this project in the fall, but supply chain issues and finances may push to sometime next year. Will keep you posted! Husband is on board with the layout and ideas. Hopefully we can get things started soon!
EXISTING FLOOR PLAN:
- Existing dining table and chairs to be removed/repurposed
- Existing desk and glass door cabinet above to be removed/repurposed
- Existing full height pantry cabinet to be relocated. See #05 in the proposed floor plan
- Existing wood island furniture piece to be removed/repurposed
NEW FLOOR PLAN:
- Lift up/down table island
- Stationary dining table
- New wood open shelf
- New base cabinets
- Relocated full height pantry cabinet
- Mudroom area consisting of countertop, coat hooks, utility sink and bench
As you can see from the existing and proposed layouts, we will be increasing the amount of countertop space from about 8 linear feet to about 18 linear feet. The only workspaces we have now are on either side of the fridge and the left side of the sink. The right side is the diry catch all drop zone. And we certainly don’t need a desk area in a weekend cottage. We will also have a larger area for eating and gathering. And without that peculiar small section of wall, flow will be much better as well as better sightlines from the back door to the lake. The quality and quantity of light will improve without the partial wall to block the afternoon light which comes in from the roadside. We will reuse all the existing appliances, which will save a lot of money and time waiting for deliveries. Aside from the pantry cabinet, the rest of the kitchen cabinets and countertop will be demolished. With the new kitchen location, it will be much easier to pass food and drinks to the covered porch located directly outside the ‘front door’. We will also be able to pass food through the window to the left of the new cabinets.
Desk area makes for a great coffee station for our barista! But I am happy to see it go!
Current dining area.
Sprawling kitchen cabinets.
Crowded kitchen area.