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A crummy kitchen layout is like a low level headache: It’s possible to live with it, but life is much happier when it’s made better. Eliza Reed’s kitchen was a startlingly poor layout before I got started on a new design . With the sink and counter being in one room and the fridge, table and meagre cooking equipment in an adjacent room it was inconvenient and very old fashioned.
There was a tenuous relationship between the two rooms and some years ago when the stove gave up on life, it was replaced with a one burner-hot plate and toaster oven on a coffee table. Not exactly a set up to inspire culinary adventures!
Since Eliza retired, she’s developed some mobility issues, so she hasn’t been inclined to do much cooking anyway, but having lived in the house since childhood with the original kitchen, she knew it was time for an update, even if only for future re-sale. There was no question in my mind that the two rooms had to be united, and after a consultation with the contractor, we determined that any services and wiring running through the non-load bearing wall could be easily relocated, thereby opening up the two spaces to one another.
Even so, the end result would still be a fairly small room with the challenge of three doors, two windows and a required table for four in addition to all the appliances required to make the kitchen functional.
Small Apartment-Sized Appliances
Since Eliza had gotten along quite well for several years with one burner and a toaster oven, it seemed like over kill to graduate to a full sized range and it would have gobbled up too much space anyway, so I suggested she look at a Miele 24” wide electric cook top and Speed Oven.
The Speed Oven is a combination microwave/convection oven that fits into a 24” wide cabinet and can accommodate an electric cook top above it. This seemed like the perfect solution since the demands on the oven will be few and combining the work of the microwave and oven into one appliance saves precious space.
The difference between the Miele combo appliance and others on the market, is that at 240 volts rather than the standard 120, there is more power to cook as an actual oven when required. It’s actually big enough to do a roast beef or chicken which is perfect when cooking for one or two. The 24” wide cook top has 4 burners and since both appliances can fit into one cabinet, there was still room on the wall backing onto the dining room to house the fridge, which hustles it out of the major passage way from the dining room to the back door.
In a small kitchen where traffic flow can be a challenge, often, building the table onto the counter top can save space by requiring clearance around only three sides rather than four. When working out the concept for Eliza’s kitchen, I thought I’d see if this would be a viable option and on paper, it looked like it would work beautifully. Without the limits of corners, round tables can more easily accommodate more diners in a limited space, so I angled the counter top away from the wall so that I could create a three foot round end to serve as a table for four.
Tables at counter height are actually very comfortable for people with limited mobility, since they don’t have to sink down into a chair and struggle to get up again. The seat height of a counter height chair is actually right at most people’s “derrière”, so they’re easy to get in and out of. As with a round free-standing table, the circular shape would allow for a comfortable arrangement for conversation and with its position right in front of the window, the view to the garden is unobstructed.
Once we got the support pedestal in place, my cabinet installer cut a piece of plywood as a support for the Cambria counter top to come and the whole layout began to take shape. The hardest part for the clients is waiting for 2 weeks between the time the counter top template is taken and the finished top gets installed, since nothing else can happen after the cabinets are installed until that’s done.
The colour palette will be soft blues, grey & champagne picked up in the Marmoleum flooring, glass backsplash tiles, paint and fabric of the window treatments.
We’re well on our way, and with the final stage in sight, the anticipation builds and makes the mess of a renovation all worthwhile.
If the Speed Oven had been on the market when I was doing my kitchen, I would have used it instead of a microwave in spite of its significantly higher cost, since it would have given me a 2nd convection oven which would be so handy at holiday time. But I don’t think I could manage with it alone. If you live in a small space, would you consider it as your primary oven to save space?
Part 3 of this Little Kitchen That Could will bring it all together.