Thursday, 16 February 2017

My Modular Kitchen


This is just one of the quirks of the land o'baguette I suppose, but it is not out of the ordinary for houses, especially rentals, or ex-rentals such as ours, to survive on the most basic kitchen amenities: a sink in a corner and if you are lucky, a few rows of tiles.  Perhaps this is due to the French renters preferring separate pieces and their own appliances or because a fitted kitchen scores higher on the old tax bracket for the homeowners, but this is how it has always been.  As the French would put it - bof


Je ne sais pas

We were dead lucky that both of the rooms intended as kitchens in this house had, besides from the gorgeous porcelain sinks, not one but two cupboards! The second of these little kitchenettes could even boast with a small glass-fronted cabinet - a conversion of a blocked window, but neither had any counter space.  Choosing between the two was easy though: the second had more storage and a floor to die for whereas the roof of the first was leaking. 


I know... bof.  

Our tiddly kitchen before the deep clean:  This is a pretty typical set up in older houses in France, and we were lucky to have any cupboards at all.



But worry not, dear reader, as we knew how to deal with this kitchenlessness.  And no, I am not talking about Papa Johns!  We previously lived with a similar pseudo-cuisine in Bretagne and already had all the necessary components for a fully functional modular kitchen.  Engineered and tested by my dear James, perhaps the cheffiest gentleman on this side of the Montagne Noire, our set up is tight but works pretty damn well even if I say so myself. 

The biggest hoarder of space in this narrow kitchen is the fridge-freezer; the bastards only fitted in the middle of the room, but having a spacious fridge is something I would not want to compromise on, not even for the sake of good feng shui.  On the flip side, we do not have a conventional hob or an oven; instead we use a portable induction place that hides away under our make-shift butchers block counter and a non-fixed oven that is housed inside a trifted side table.  I believe the application sits on two pieces of mdf board, one of which is a discarded painting of mine. Recycling is good m'kay.  In Bretagne we lost valuable space for the microwave that used to sit on the counter, but we were able to place it inside a cupboard that was conveniently missing its door. Voilà! 



The hot plate normally nests under the butchers block and it's light enough to be lifted easily on top when needed.. let's say, when making a light mid night snack...
Our main work space is basically a modified architects table: a thick piece of pine, sanded, treated with danish oil and hoisted on a pair of adjustable legs.  The oven-side-table-combo  was originally designed to fit under this counter, with the hotplate being stored between the two but in this instance we needed a short piece of furniture to sit under the glass cabinet so we moved it around.  The additional prep space turned out to be useful too. 

The space savers: The antique unit on the far left holds most of our ambient food and the wine crate on top of it is the home of our spice collection.  The little oven is housed inside an old side table that fits snugly under the glass cabinets.  We lived with the "doors" of the converted window-turned glass cabinet at first, but chose to remove them for easier access to our goblets.  





This kitchen has a fair bit of open and exposed storage and although I am not generally a fan of clutter, the maximalist approach was the only realistic one.  We simply have too many things to tuck away neatly.  And there are examples of our hoard that I actually like to have out in the open, such as my collection of Finnish design glass and James' elegant set of copper pans, but some, let's say the scanky jar of Marmite that expired on the first half of 2014 should be meant for our eyes only.

Most of our cook- and tableware is stored in the built-ins where as the food hides inside the wooden art nouveau-ish cabinet.  Although we both prefer to fill our lives with trift-store treasures such as that, the space would not be as functional without the little acquisitions from everyone's favourite Swedish furniture giant.  The ever versatile Raskog cart deserves a special mention for providing a home for our extensive condiment collection.  The IKEA shelf dividers and trays set out places for our heap of kitchen crap, but this mini kitchen is, as many dinky interiors tend to be, still just one misplaced plate away from complete chaos. 


A place for everything and everything in its place. 











Having a place for everything is paramount in keeping a pint sized kitchen tidy.  Each module, each pot and every jar, in fact everything in this kitchen has their own set function.  Even the dishwasher, currently not hooked up, houses lesser used odds and sods.  And for us, it works just fine.  And we cook an awful lot, from elaborate Sunday lunches to quick weeknight bites and brunches.  Although this modular set up is temporary - we are planning to built a bigger fitted kitchen downstairs in a few years time, we chose not to compromise on the functionality of our cooking space in favour of a less crowded, airier cuisine.

Depending on your needs, a modular kitchen can be just as functional as a fitted one and it doesn't need to cost an arm and a leg.  As small space living is becoming increasingly popular, you do not need to be a carpenter to built a set up that works for you.  IKEA launched a tiny all in one-kitchen just last year and similar units can be found from most home improvement stores.  And the best part?  If you get bored or have a change or heart - bof.  All you need is a free afternoon and a bit of grunt to re-configure your units for a "new" kitchen. 

5 comments:

  1. Too bad you had to block the door. But I understand. I have a makeshift kitchen right now as well. I found a two oven Aga at a shop that was going out of business for a tenth of the original price. How could you refuse? We had to rip out pieces of the existing cabinets to put it where it needed to go (since we got it at such a great discount we weren't able to choose the venting style so had to put it on an outside wall). We are still in the throngs of it making due with the Aga and what is left. It was worth it. As is your kitchen. Looks great.

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    1. Hi Veronica

      Thank you for your kind words! Hah hah, and I completely agree with the door! Fortunately nothing was lost but access to a scary bathroom with no headroom and plenty of broken pipes.

      I hope you enjoy your new Aga - what a steal! We are planning to get a reconditioned one when we start building our new kitchen in a couple of years. The company we are planning to orders ours through only fits the electric models outside the UK, but that suits us fine as it does get pretty hot in the summer and we wouldn't rely on it for heat most of the year. My hubby has had one before and loves cooking with an Aga where I just adore the vintage look and feel.

      XTiina

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  2. What a lovely space!! Warm, welcoming...perfectly imperfect! Love it all.

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    1. Thank you Chrissy - I love your expression; perfectly imperfect! Suits this house to the T.

      xTiina

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