New kitchen time…

My old kitchen; or how to fit lots of thing in a small space

…well, hopefully! This is what one of the corners used to look like – you can see that life was a little cramped with the washing machine, freezer, microwave and breadmaker all living cheek by jowl. I didn’t have much storage space so the shelves on the left were where I kept baskets of food and lunchboxes, cookbooks and spices. That’s my wee baking trolley next to the shelves with all my ingredients to hand – Little Missy loved getting stuck into that! – and I’ve another trolley carefully balanced on top of the microwave and crammed with pulses, beans and other dried goods.

There was one drawer in the entire kitchen and that’s where the cutlery lived. All other utensils were either in a jar by the sink or hanging from a rail on the wall. Saucepans hung from a rail over the window and knives lived on one of those magnetic knife strips. There was a (not terribly convenient) place for everything and, however difficult it was to fit things in, I loved it. You were never more than two steps from anything in that kitchen.

But it wasn’t what you might call practical. The cookbooks on the mantelpiece behind the shelves (yep, there’s a really gorgeous green fireplace trapped behind that) had a nasty habit of sliding and threatening to knock everything else onto the ground. To keep LM from the items on the shelf and baking trolley, we had to use one of those old-fashioned child-proof metal fireguards so that getting to the freezer was a nightmare – my excuse for not defrosting it for over the last couple of years. I had about three-quarters of a meter of worktop, no draining board and the area around my lovely deep Belfast sink was leaking badly. We had hoped to retain as much of the old kitchen as possible but when the builder pulled the lower units out, we found lots of damp and woodworm.

My kitchen, ahem, building site. Mid May 2011

This is what that corner looks like at the moment. The old fireplace is still there, just behind all that plywood and will hopefully be more of a feature in future. But that’s practically all that remains of what was there before. The wall behind the washing machine and freezer was knocked through into the bathroom, giving me lots of extra space and the old doorway into the bathroom – the yellow bags of insulation are living there at the moment – is now closed off. This will be, at some stage down the line, my long-awaited-for pantry.

At the moment I’m waiting to find out if the old Stanley cooker that we have stored at my parents’ place for the last few years is still in working order. That will be our one bit of new(-ish) kitchen equipment; everything else will be dragged from storage!

But, and this is my real problem, I’ve no presses or worktops to go around the necessities. Has anyone got any kitchen renovation ideas? Recommendations for companies that install kitchens? Tried any of the various places in Ireland that offer a kitchen service and can tell me about it? I’ve a tiny budget (there will be no floor coverings anywhere in the house for quite a while) so this is all being done on a very narrow shoestring. I’d really appreciate any advice!



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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6 Responses

  1. Caroline,

    We went through all this just over 3 years ago! We used the Panelling Centre in Galway and found them very helpful! I tried lots of different places, with varying degrees of disinterest from them! Our budget was tight too, and in the end with the ridiculous quotes we got to fit kitchen, we did it ourselves! Call me if you’d like contact names! M

    • Caroline Caroline says:

      Did you get them to make the units before you put them in yourselves then? No installation costs sound good, apart from the fact that I’ll probably end up having to do it myself with the Husband being so busy brewing these days!

      I remember your kitchen from that Foodies on Tour event that we did last summer and thought it was lovely. Might just give you a call about that.

  2. Treasa says:

    I sort of know where you’re coming from because I have a kitchen which is driving me insane because of lack of space. I’m looking at – and this is going to sound a bit pathetic – – for ideas about how to get maximum storage out of minimum space, and the simpler the better. Someone is almost certainly going to mention IKEA to you too but I’m not sure how that will fit into your budget. Having looked at a lot of brand new kitchens in houses because I’m also supposed to be buying, I’m not sure I want a kitchen designer anywhere near me. Not based on some of the sinks I’ve seen anyway.

    I know for myself what I would want is a lot more open shelving than I’ve got and ways to hang stuff from the ceiling.

  3. Caroline Caroline says:

    I’m with you on the open shelving and hanging things from the ceiling. So much easier to find pots, pans and utensils that way!

    Ikea seems good for the kind of bars and shelves that you can hang lots of things from.

    I’m still loving my Belfast sink, which will be going back in, but really need a draining board to go with it. Five years of tipping water off a stainless steel tray is five years too many!

  4. Kristin says:

    I love before and after photos – looking forward to the after shots (as I’m sure you are too)!

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