I once toured a wooden schooner, a replica of a boat that had long-ago plied the waters of the Great Lakes, freighting goods across fresh water so large that it could have just as well been an ocean. Everything about this vessel was impressive – the solid wooden mast made from a virgin tree, the brass fittings, the wooden hull and decks, the paned windows with their replica hardware.
But, what I remember most of all was the incredible aroma of dinner that wafted up from the galley below. I couldn’t wait to see what that chef was up to in his tiny kitchen. There, below decks, in a perfectly organized and meticulously thought-out and executed space, he crafted food for the crew of ten? fifteen? Mental notes scribbled across my mind as I stepped down the wooden ship’s ladder and stood in the center of the galley. I just stood there and studied. Here was proof positive that much could be done with little, and I wanted to mark down how.
So many streams of notes and inspiration like this came together the day I began designing the kitchen in this little house of ours. Years of images torn, pinned, pegged, clipped and one way or another filed away, came to light and added their worth to the process (I showed some of my inspiration, here). I had thirteen feet of space – what was I going to do with it? I decided to take a basic approach and leave out the bells and whistles – no dishwasher, no garbage disposal, no automatic ice maker, no microwave. I would use the essentials of good design and quality appliances. In the end, I hoped to create a very functional and beautiful kitchen that would flow seamlessly with the living area surrounding it.
I’d like to give you a tour!
Shouldn’t every room begin with art? This print spoke so much to us about the history and life of the ‘cabin’, it spoke of people with fortitude and vision, it spoke of hand-hewn, handmade, and use-what-you-have. Yes! There is a place for art in our kitchen (and room to expand the collection when we discover the next piece/s!).
The iron pot rack was hand made by a local metal smith. After searching without success for what I wanted, I went to Joe’s shop, we had a talk, and he made what was in my head. I love how it’s rough and raw, a perfect juxtaposition to the polished pots hanging from it.
Next to the range, the necessities for cooking are handy - olive oil, salt shaker, pepper grinder, and a salt cellar. A small wooden lidded pot holds the day’s vitamins.
Close at hand, my knives slide into slits in the unused space behind the range.
The iron brackets for the shelves came from Signature Hardware. The barn wood was found at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I sealed the rough wood with paste wax, and now they are easily wiped with a damp sponge.
On the upper shelves, we have wine glasses, and juice glasses, tumblers and ice teas. Our white dinnerware and glass custard cups are on the lower shelves along with my small collection of pitchers. I purposely kept room available for future white ironstone finds to add to the shelves, specifically a couple of antique hotel platters…I’m keeping my eyes open.
The range is a Jenn-Air down-draft model that I scored for $75 from Salvation Army several months before I even knew a cabin was in our future! I thought I had lost my mind, driving home that day, with a stove in the back and no place to put it! It is the perfect range for this space, however, as the down-draft venting eliminates the need for a range hood. The refrigerator is from Summit Appliance. Summit manufactures refrigerators for small and unusual spaces. This one is only 30” wide and is counter depth.
My first choice for a counter top was soapstone. I’m drawn to the timeless look of it, the natural quality of it, and of course, its durability. I also appreciate a good shot of black in a room. But, even for this small of a space, the price tag for soapstone was more than we wanted to spend. So, I created my own ‘soapstone’ counter. I specified to the cabinet maker that the counter top be made from furniture grade plywood with a 2” edge band. I then painted it with chalkboard paint using a slightly rough sponge roller. I let it dry, then lightly sanded it down, defining the mottled quality of the paint. I then finished it by sealing with paste wax. I have been so pleased with the results! It has held up well to everyday uses and abuses (remember we have three boys!), and when it has gotten a nick, I’ve just touched it up and re-sealed (I’ve only done this once in the last year). It shows some water spots and staining, which adds to the natural stone patina look I was going for.
Speaking of the cabinet maker, I was fortunate enough to be able to have custom cabinets built to my exact specs. I took note of what would be kitchen necessities for me, then built the kitchen to accommodate them. The cabinets have a simple shaker door style with painted knobs for the doors and brushed stainless pulls for the drawers.
And now, would you like to see inside my cabinets?
The cabinet above the refrigerator may be my favorite! The vertically divided slots hold an amazing amount of bake ware. From spring form pans to tart pans, from French bread molds to a cookie press, from muffin tins to my rolling pin collection, everything that I use for baking is in this cabinet.
The lower cabinet beside the fridge holds ceramic baking dishes, a set of mixing bowls, a batter bowl, strainers, a roasting pan, toaster, stock pot, skillets, cheese grater, and waffle iron. Plans are in the works to maximize the space in this cabinet even more!
New! A reader asked so kindly to see the inside of this now-updated cabinet. Have a look:
These cabinets were made with adjustable shelves. The metal tracks along the inside of the cabinet can hold more clips, which additional shelves can rest on. My husband simply cut two more shelves from plywood (we didn't even take the time to edge-band them - it's on the to-do list!), then I added more clips and placed the shelves in the cabinet where I wanted them. We love having our coffee mugs and thermal mugs handy right below the coffee maker now. And the skilletts have their own shallow shelf, as does the foil, wax paper, parchement, etc. Mixing bowls, my batter bowl, and loaf pans are very handy and stock pots and strainers are easy to reach on the bottom shelf. The roasting pan is now behind the skillets and the white ceramic baking dishes are behind the stockpot, since I don't use them as often.
The space in the cabinet below the sink is for the larger appliances – blender, food processor, and Kitchenaid. The trash basket is kept there, too, and there are hooks for a hand towel and dish towel.
I specified the height of each drawer to be able to hold what I planned to keep in it. In the top drawer we keep flatware, steak knives, serving spoons and forks, butter spreaders, and a cork screw.
The next drawer holds cooking tools, a timer, skewers, can opener, meat thermometer, tea ball, shears, etc.
In the third drawer I keep all my baking tools as well as the vintage ironstone soap dish that I use as a spoon rest.
The lowest drawer holds coffee, filters, tea, hot pads, vitamins, toothpicks, and everyday baking ingredients such as salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
In the cabinet next to the stove, I keep two large ice cream cans filled with flour (from my mother’s kitchen when I was a girl!) – one for white, one for wheat, and a gallon jar of sugar. Next to the flour cans are the cutting boards, and on the half-depth shelf above, I keep pitchers and water bottles.
I knew from the start that I wanted vintage light fixtures as accents throughout the house. I had a general idea of what style I wanted over the kitchen sink, and I searched endlessly for it!
Finally, patience paid off and I won this beautiful copper light with its original shade on Ebay! It had just the age, patina, and style I was looking for, without being too trendy.
Oh, this kitchen! This little, little kitchen has and gives so very much!
Update: Next on the house tour here
Have you been looking for a tastefully designed, small house plan that lives large? You may just find what you've been seeking in the newly-released Shelter Collection - four small floor plans designed for gracious living in 900-1400 square feet, the first, second, & third have released, the fourth is coming soon. Peruse the collection here.