The Comfortable Cottage Kitchen: Making a Staycation – Vacation Retreat at Home

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A leaded glass cabinet original to the house.

My goal of late has been to create a more relaxing atmosphere inside my 150 year old cottage. I love laid back vacation rentals and it seems to me that I should be able to live in one year-round. I mean, why not? What is a vacation rental except a house that has been designed with comfort in mind?

The other day I updated the coffee bar in my breakfast nook and since then I’ve enjoyed a few more cups of coffee and tea just because everything is now much more visible and within easy reach. With the whole visibility thing in mind, I head back to the kitchen for another make-over attempt.

My kitchen is already well-organized. Years of mid-century additions – a breakfast nook, a bathroom, stairways leading both upstairs and down, and a long and narrow sunroom- all trapped my oddly shaped cottage kitchen in the center of the house. It’s less than ideal, with seven different doorways opening into it. But before moving into the house I redesigned the kitchen, working within its existing footprint. It is still a small kitchen in an odd sized space, but now it is also convenient with plenty of useful cabinets and space for two cooks to work at the same time.

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The window over the stove once looked out on the backyard. Now it looks into my sunroom.

Having lived with my kitchen now for a number of years, I went into my make-over knowing exactly what improvements I wanted to make. I do not own a lot of kitchen gadgets but things I do own were seldom used because they were buried in cupboards or stored even further away – on shelves in a basement pantry. There’s not much point in owning things if you’re never going to use them. Now was the time to throw out some things, and find more visible, easy-reach places for others.

But that decision made me nervous. The reason things were stored away in the first place is because I don’t like cluttered counter tops. I keep a toaster oven on the small counter next to the stove, and the only things on my longer counter top were a small microwave oven and a bowl of fruit. If I want to make use of my other small appliances though, I need to be willing to give them some counter space. I pulled out my often used crock pot and I gave it a spot at the end of the long counter. Done. No more. I wouldn’t be able to face cluttering the counter with anything else.

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Pine cabinets fit the casual style of my crooked little cottage home..

In another small corner of my kitchen is a console table that I bought for baking. It sits beneath a cupboard that was hand built in the 1950’s.  It is where I store baking staples plus measuring cups, mixing bowls and the like. A second pull out cabinet holds smaller staples like salt and baking powder, and a spice rack found at the Goodwill last summer hangs on the wall. The set-up places all of my baking items at hand in one space. The height of the console table is lower than a standard kitchen counter which makes it a more comfortable height for rolling out cookie dough or pie crust.  My Kitchenaid mixer already has a permanent home sitting at one end of the table and I decided that the rest of the table space was off limits. I need every bit of it when I lay out ingredients for a recipe.

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A convenient corner for baking supplies. The console table is a better height for rolling out pie dough and cut-out cookies.

So where do I put the small appliances if I’m not willing to clutter my counter tops with them? At once, the solution became obvious. There is a shelf beneath the console table. I moved out the odds and ends stored there and made a place for my bread machine and electric skillet plus an electric griddle stored upright in its box. It will be easy enough to bring them up to the counter top when I want to use them. I also bring my small deep fryer, my vacuum packing unit, and my rice cooker up from the basement and I find a more accessible place for them in a kitchen cabinet. Other appliances, including an ice cream freezer and a quesadilla maker will be donated to the Goodwill along with a bunch of extra pots and pans and seldom used dishes. Already my kitchen feels lighter, less cluttered, and more efficient.

 

 

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Storing small appliances under the table keeps them handy but out of the way.

 

 

 

 

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