Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Kitchen Update: Adding a Little Warmth

Here's a small little project I did a few months ago. I love our kitchen but it is slightly sterile - no custom touches or ingenious design solutions. I also happen to live with a fanatically clean husband: he wipes down those counters like a food safety inspector on a nightly basis and heaven forbid there is clutter that gets in the way of his dinner cleanup routine. So no stuff lives on our counters with the exception of a fruit bowl, toaster, soap dispenser, and knife block. Literally nothing else.

Emma and I have claimed the windowsill above the sink for our plant growing experiments but everything else is mess-free and very, very white. 

Time to warm it up a bit. We have this awkward space in our kitchen between the wall and the upper cabinets. 

The wall is a tiny curved nubbin over the bar so there wasn't room to put the cabinets all the way against it. Instead we have a space that measures roughly 20" wide. 

Time for a plan: shelves! Three, to be precise. 

We lived with cardboard replicas for a few months to try out several versions. 

I looked briefly into making the shelves out of reclaimed barn wood, (same as the bench) but it's dreadfully expensive. I also found our bench makers but their Etsy shop was no longer active - we loved the quality but they were months late on delivery and I wasn't sure if repeat business was warranted given their late initial job. Regardless, they were no longer a viable option. 

And then a nice block of Ikea butcher block counter top fell into my lap courtesy of my Buy Nothing Facebook group. Friends, are you on Buy Nothing? The concept is simple: post a picture of something you're done with and people in your group pipe up if they'd like to be the new owners. I love it - it's much more satisfying than sending stuff off to the landfill or Goodwill and we've scored some amazing stuff: gently-used ski jacket + bibs for Emma, an electric knife sharpener for Chris, a fitbit for me, and books for Ben. Our group is also big into lending: need a gorilla suit for a Halloween party? Post an 'ask' on the website; your neighbors might have one they are happy to loan you for the evening. 

Cutting was fairly straight forward. I initially used metal brackets to hold the shelves against the wall but they looked tacky; I eventually settled on wood supports screwed into the studs. The bottom shelf rests mostly on the quartz backsplash, with a few screws put in from the cabinet side. 

Ikea manufactures their counters of oak;  I stained it dark brown in an effort to mimic our bench. It's a close, but not perfect, match. 

Between the floor, the bench, the table, and the shelves, we have a lot of wood in the house and it looks ok, despite none of it matching.  I quite like it, actually!

Here are the finished products:

Right now there are a variety of knick knacks that we threw up there when getting the house ready for Airbnb. We've had a few things go missing over the years so stocking it with unsentimental items is key.