Culling the kitchen

Assorted items that did not make the cut. Including the blue pan I love but cannot just

Assorted items that did not make the cut. Including the blue pan I love but cannot justify.

The kitchen-stuff-minimization project is mostly complete, and I have to admit, it was fun. I have been needing an excuse to do this for ages. It is so easy to hold on to stuff you never use just because you have it. Donating or finding a new home for things is work, and so you shove them in the back of a drawer and convince yourself you need them.

No more.
I have set up a “minimalist” test-kitchen within my kitchen, as a bit of a pilot-project. It is s till a few months before I move, so I want to make sure I haven’t either thrown out things I need or kept things I don’t need before I finalize my plans. So the cupboards on the far wall of my kitchen are the test-kitchen, with all dishes I plan to put in storage or have not yet given away in the other cupboards and drawers.

To help this make more sense, I should say that before I even entered the kitchen I spent two days doing research. With the help of my friend Google I looked up blogs and websites about minimalist kitchens (faves included this, this and this), so get some idea where to start. There is a lot of info out there. I knew I wasn’t looking for the “use a spork to eat out of your camping dishes” kind of minimalism (like this – OK, there was no spork, but still not for me), but I did need to cut a lot. After much reading I prepared a list of what I intended to keep:

  • 3-4 pots, varying sizes
  • 2 frying pans, varying sizes
  • 1 each of lasagna pan, loaf pan, baking sheet, pie plate, etc.
  • Basic cutlery set, plus steak knives
  • Knives: Chef’s knife, utility knife, paring knife, plus shears
  • 1 each of wooden spoon, slotted spoon, spatula, various cooking tools
  • 3 piece mixing bowl set plus 1 glass salad bowl
  • Assorted Tupperware/storage pieces
  • Slow cooker, rice cooker and food processor
  • 8 dinner plates
  • 4 each of salad plates, bowls, coffee mugs, dessert bowls
  • 4 drinking glasses, 2 pint glasses, 4 wine glasses
  • Assorted utensils: corkscrew, bottle opener, measuring spoons and cups, etc.

So… in other words… not particularly “minimalist” at all. Except that my kitchen contains that 3-4 times over.

Setting these aside left a pretty big pile of stuff to sort through. What was going out for good, and what was worth putting into storage? On the chopping block were various single use appliances: popcorn maker, espresso machine, waffle maker, plus the blender, toaster, kettle, etc. Also gone are all the extra utensils: the extra wooden spoons (I had about 6), the second set of measuring cups, various things I couldn’t even find a use for. A cheese plate. Extra dessert bowls. An assortment of extra mixing bowls. And so much more. Many items sold, and still two boxes of stuff on the table to give away.

Being packed away until I have a full kitchen again are: 8 x cups and saucers and 4 x salad plates and bowls. And the entire china set, which I love and will not get rid of but can’t bring with me. Plus the second baking sheet, muffin tin, lasagna pan, etc.

This is what my (usable) cupboards now look like*:

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I plan to be in my new home no later than June, so for the next few months I will be testing out my cooking only the items in the list. This is not exactly a hardship. Everything I need is there (or so I think). Still it will be interesting to see how it goes, and how accustomed I have gotten to having more dishes than I know what to do with. Wish me luck.

* Slowcooker was in use, not in picture. Food processor still in box, bought to replace the blender we just sold, on the presumption that we will use it more. Also, changed my mind about the mixing bowls. While the plastic ones pictured have lids and are thus multi-functional, I prefer the stainless steel set, and so swapped them out.

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Minimizing

Life is funny, isn’t it? Last time I posted here we were finishing amazing renovations to our house. We made it bigger. We made it prettier. We had it custom designed for us. It was awesome.

And now, just 18 months after the renos are complete… we are moving. It’s a temporary move, but a move nonetheless. I can’t believe I am leaving my fabulous new house.

But I am leaving. And not only that, significantly downsizing. There is no point in renting a 3+ bedroom house for a couple who are moving to another city for only a year (barring extensions, but that’s another story). So the challenge ahead of me in the next two months is figuring out what I want to take with us. What does a couple, in a one bedroom apartment, actually need to get by. And the flip side, what can go into long-term storage, and not be accessed till we move home.

At first, I found this daunting and stressful, but I am beginning to see it more as a challenge. Despite our best efforts not to be cluttered, we have accumulated a lot of stuff over the years. We first noticed this when we had to move out for the renovation. We did our best to cull the excess stuff at that time, but when we began to unpack after the reno, it became clear we hadn’t done as well as we thought. There are still unpacked boxes in the closets and basement. If we haven’t used it in 18 months, why do we still own it.

So over the next few weeks, I am going to seriously cull our belongings. Ruthlessly. Why do we need 5 spare pillows? Multiple sheet sets for the spare bed and futon? 8 different types and sizes of wine glasses? Don’t get me started on mugs and teacups. It is out of control. While I am sure that given our personalities, we will never be true minimalists, I know we can do much better than this.

Tonight, I start with the kitchen. Single-use gadgets: be afraid. Be very afraid. I will report back soon.

Help me choose exterior lighting?

There a sale on exterior lighting at Kent this week. Dave is away and has left me in charge. Since I can’t seem to make a decision, and have always wanted to try out WordPress’ poll feature, I am asking for your input.

I have decided on white. Considered bronzed, but with the current plan for deep blue siding and white trim, white lights seem best. But which white lights, I am not yet sure.

The new kitchen has been built

Well, the basic structure. Right now it’s just an awkward looking plywood box. But it will be my new kitchen.

Outside view. Kitchen addition on the left. Also: new front porch!

 

Inside. The yellow table stands where the counter will be. There will be windows on either side of it, at the corners. Current kitchen is front and right.

 

Back outside: While we lost two lilac trees to construction, the contractors dug up the rhododendron so we could replant and save it.

 

Demolition mostly complete

The inside demo is complete, and new sub-floors are in. Outside demo is still ongoing, with the siding and shingles being removed. Soon, they start digging to install posts for the kitchen extension. I have a few more pictures for you.

D. in the front hall.

Living room, which has also become the temporary storage area.

The kitchen - looking from the stairs.

Upstairs. Standing in the master bedroom, looking towards the spare room.

Standing in the master bedroom, looking into what will become the upstairs bathroom. Exciting.

The reonvations begin

Well, it’s more like demolition so far, really.

I’m going to post semi-regular progress updates here, for the sake of family and friends who aren’t here to see it, and any strangers who are just generally interested in renovations.

Home.

We own a 1 1/2 story post-war (1949) home. You probably know the kind. They are all over the city. All over the country really. Two bedrooms upstairs. Kitchen, dining room, bath, living room and another bedroom downstairs. All rooms separate and boxed-in, as old houses are. The plan is to open it up, by moving or removing a few walls. We’re changing the roof-line upstairs, to take advantage of currently unused floorspace. There will be an 8 x 11 addition onto the kitchen, for more workspace. And, since houses weren’t typically insulated in 1949 (aside from the odd bag of seaweed behind the plaster), and the wiring is helplessly out of date, we’re redoing all of that.

Or, in other words, we’re tearing it back to the framing and boards, and pretty much rebuilding. Fun. And scary. I hope to drop by tomorrow and get some pictures of it post-demolition, but for those of you who have never seen it, here are a few pre-demo photos:

Walking through the front door.

The living room. Fireplace to be rebuilt, with wood insert. Back wall (not shown) pushed back four feet.

Dining room, looking to kitchen (left) and living room (right). Right wall coming out, will be open to LR.

Kitchen. There will be an addition on the left. Back window to be replaced with one more than 3X that size, to make bright breakfast nook.

I’ll be back on the weekend with a few photos of what it looks like right now. They aren’t so pretty.