This week, I am featuring Amy from Tenth Acre Farm in Cincinnati Ohio. Amy takes us on a tour of the before and after of her suburban Homestead Kitchen!
When we moved into our house in 2006, we tried to like the 1950s, pink kitchen. “It’s retro! It’s minimalist!,” we tried to convince ourselves. But as I increased my production of homegrown produce and from-scratch meals, I realized that the tiny slivers of countertop space weren’t made for high production. On the contrary, residents in this new house in the 1950s clearly shopped for canned and ready-to-eat items.
Here I am eating breakfast in the old kitchen. It’s cozy, but there’s barely an inch of counter space available.
Here’s the old pink kitchen before the remodel, old fridge removed.
Canning without an exhaust fan is bad news. Something had to be done, but it took us 6 years to do anything about it!
It 2012, we began the process of remodeling the kitchen ourselves. I had no idea it would take 7 months! During the process I set up a “faux kitchen” in the spare bedroom, complete with the old fridge, an island/dining table, a folding table of supplies, and a single portable electric stovetop burner. I did our dishes in the bathtub!
Here is our “faux” kitchen
I wanted a brighter kitchen with lots of storage and counter space. My number one recommendation when starting a kitchen remodeling project, especially if the kitchen will be used for high production: Do your research!
We had to think about terms like linear feet of counter space, storage capacity, and work flow. We talked to a few independent contractors and went to multiple big box stores to discuss our kitchen dimensions and get their ideas on how to maximize the use of the space. They all have computer programs to help you experiment with the placement of appliances, etc., for free. We must have changed our design a handful of times on paper, incorporating ideas from all of the different sources.
This is the same view as image 2 after the remodel. Hard to believe, but look at all that counter space!
I appreciate a clutter-free environment and now I have enough storage space that the counters stay relatively clear. We call the new homestead kitchen the “Sol Kitchen”, inspired by the sun mural behind the stove. (Sol = sun in Spanish!)
The sun mural brings even more cheeriness to the bright, new homestead kitchen. It also matches my Fiestaware dishes that my mom has been collecting for me over the last 12 years.
Finally, I can look out a window while doing dishes, rather than stare at a wall. And canning is a breeze with all the counter space and a beast of an exhaust fan.
Staying on budget was an important goal of ours. We decided that energy efficient, high-quality appliances were more important than anything else. So we chose our appliances first, and then chose additional components such as cabinets, flooring, and countertops as we could fit them into the budget. This meant that we didn’t get our first, second, or sometimes even our third choice in those categories. But we made it work, and we’re proud to have stuck to the budget. Tip: Kitchenware sales are competitive and short-lived. Sometimes that sale on countertops is just too good to pass up!
We went with an induction stovetop because it is incredibly energy efficient and more responsive than electric or gas. You can boil water in 90 seconds! One of the reasons why we went with induction rather than a gas cooktop is because we plan on adding a rooftop solar array to power it someday. Though I don’t know how close we are to that goal, I’m still really happy with it.
And finally, the original pantry was a shallow, built-in shelving unit that didn’t have much storage capacity. When we tore out the walls during the remodeling process, we discovered empty space behind the pantry that said, “Expand me!”
So we did – we expanded the depth of the pantry shelves, and left the area open to increase the spacious feel of the new kitchen. “Pantry” doesn’t seem to describe the space anymore, so we call it the “cubby”.
The kitchen cubby (back corner) stores some of my home canned and dehydrated items, cookbooks, the toaster oven, and a little work desk where I keep my grocery list and weekly menu plan. We’re happy to have given up the microwave prior to the kitchen remodel, because the toaster oven does everything we need since our meals are made from scratch.
This was our first kitchen remodeling project, and though there are a couple of things I would do differently the next time around, overall I am incredibly happy with the results, and with how well the hubby and I worked together. There are so many big, expensive decisions, that it is important to be prepared to flex the negotiating muscles!
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