Friday, December 28, 2018

My New Kitchen, Am I Happy With It? Is It Worth The Expense?

For those who have followed the saga of my new kitchen and those who are wondering if it's worth going through all the hassle and expense, I must say that I'm really glad that we did it.

We moved in this house over thirty years ago, and although it was custom designed from head to toe in every way, I must admit that there were elements in the kitchen that were problematic from day one. I did have some really good things which I enjoyed from day one until the very last day.

We have a strictly kosher kitchen, so two sinks on two different walls were a necessity for me. Yes, there are people who manage with side-by-side sinks and double sinks, which I had until then. And when we were living in London on shlichut (doing Jewish Zionist youth work) we only had one sink, for which I needed bowls and had to be more organized.

Another really good thing I had in the old kitchen was a "table" jutting out of the wall, large enough for all the kids to sit around. In the middle of it was a raised section with heat-proof tiles, the same as we had on the walls. And instead of table legs, there was a closet where I kept tablecloths and other kitchen items. Today, that's my heat-proof cabinet for candlesticks. We just had the "table" part sawed off. This piece was my design, so I'm really glad that it could be transitioned and used even now.

In addition, we had plenty of closet space. Another of my demands/requirements/designs was a wall of closets, not very deep, with bookshelves on the side. And that remains in use to this day. The only change is that I got rid of all my cookbooks and sundry books that had been gathering dust. Now, I have mugs and coffee accessories on the shelves.

There were some basic, serious design/planning mistakes in the old kitchen. The refrigerator is on the far left, while refrigerator doors open to the left.  Decades ago, it wasn't a problem, because one could easily have the door switched. Nowadays, unless you have plenty of space and money for a four-door model, it's extremely hard to find one that can have the door switched. Ours is now over ten years old, and it was almost impossible to find one. Our refrigerator is now on the right side of a wall.

One really bad mistake our contractor did was to order the kitchen cabinets to fit our old appliances, the ones we had when building the house. I caught the mistake before the kitchen cabinets were brought to the house, and we gave the refrigerator more space. That's because I had already bought a new wider one. But we ended up with the super small niche for the stove/oven, which was awful. First of all, by the time we had to replace the old one, they don't last forever, there were very few that size still on the market. And in all honesty, I was getting very frustrated baking in super tiny ovens. My dream was to have two full-size (by Israeli standards obviously) ovens, one for meat and one for parve/dairy. BTW, the meat oven hasn't had any chametz, so kashering it for Passover isn't problematic. And the second oven has never had dairy baked in it, so it's really parve.

In addition, the original kitchen was designed for a young family with five children and lots of visiting kids and family. Today, we have an "empty nest" and entertain mostly for Shabbat meals.

Luckily I was able to save a bit of money by not paying a professional kitchen planner. My son-in-law and I planned it, with one little tweak by the guy I found to "do," or more accurately be in charge of all aspects of the renovations.

The old kitchen had upper cabinets to the ceiling on all the walls. Now we have almost none, and amazingly we have more storage space. The lower cabinets are drawers, except for the "island." And instead of an awful impossible to easily access corner cabinet, we have the meat sink there.  And under the sink there's space for the large meat oven trays and the "platta," the large electric food warmer used on Shabbat, plus the covers for it.

I replaced the old "children's table" with another custom designed piece. The new island has the dairy sink and facing the dining room table is a cabinet full of Passover dishes. That island also has a spot to sit and countertop space for dish-drainer and food preparations. 

Of course I now have two full-sized ovens. They are on the left, where the refrigerator used to be. And the fridge is where the old stove used to be. I feel like there's tons more counter space than before, although it may just be an illusion.

The color scheme, wall tiles, formica etc are attractive, as far as I'm concerned. I haven't seen this combination anyplace else. But since aesthetics are very individual, that's not important. I also liked the old kitchen, and the wall of closets that remain blend in all right. There's an option to replace the doors, but I decided that the expense wasn't worthwhile.

Two things my husband kept asking people before we got started was:
How long did you have to suffer without a kitchen?
And did you have to move out of your house while the renovations were going on?
So to answer those questions, it took two weeks until we could begin using the new kitchen, and we never had to move out of the house.

During the two weeks we didn't have a kitchen, we managed without really cooking in the house. I prepared more sandwiches than I had for a long time. We ate out and at neighbors. I also heated and cooked a bit at neighbors and brought the food home. I also used the electric "hot plate," which had been my "stove" for two years. Since it was precarious when mounted on the laundry room sink, I used it only when very desperate. Two weeks aren't forever.

Now cooking is such a pleasure. And I love baking in my new ovens.

Yes, getting a new kitchen was certainly worth the expense and the hassle. 

Following are a variety of photos taken in my new kitchen.

The plug/wire for the light has been fixed since then.

Here's my recycled closet

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