Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New home: the kitchen

It's been a bit hard to motivate sharing about this house, because it so does not feel like a home (yet). I get a bit frustrated because I was so excited about the Walter St house. I loved the way it looked. I loved its high ceilings, hardwood floors and period details. The fact that the owners and previous real estate agents are being totally unethical (still!) about our move prevents me from feeling too much nostalgia, but the look and feel of this house are so very different that it's hard to feel at home here. The last house was old and surrounded by beautifully maintained gardens. This house is new and HUGE and looks like this:

The picture of modern suburbia (eek!). I tease Markus that he is secretly preparing me for life in Houston. Although I know we are incredibly fortunate to be able to live in a place like this, nothing about this place feels like us. We feel like caricatures of ourselves, especially in the mornings. For me, it's backing my big, relatively new car out of the large garage to drive my daughter to private school (yikes). For Markus, it's when he grabs his workbag and walks through the grand entryway (more on that another post) to leave for the office. We can hardly stop ourselves from feeling very '50s fabulous. I am tempted to don fancy dress, make-up, heels, pearls and a hostess apron, ready to great him with a drink when he returns home in the evenings. Seriously. Might as well have fun with it, because we have as yet been unable to shake the feeling that we are living someone else's life. We never had this feeling before. The house is a lot like Qatar, but at least in Qatar, all the houses were like that so there was no alternative (and there we definitely felt we were living an artificial life for soooo many reasons anyway). Anyway, moving on. You want to know about THIS house, so here we go!

The kitchen is the heart of the home, so I thought we'd share that space today. The location and layout of the kitchen is one of the reasons I ultimately selected this home. At first, it's corner position struck me as odd, but I really like how I can survey the dining area, playroom, and backyard from behind the kitchen counters. If I am in any one room for an extended period of time, that room would be the kitchen. It's good for me to be able to see what's going on.

The door you see leading off to the side from the kitchen (near Ellie playing with the bulletin board) goes into the playroom. This is meant to be a "TV room" (heavily wired for cable and satellite), but we aren't TV watchers, making the playroom solution even more obvious. It's a nice, big, open space. The girls really like it. I do too. The position is ideal.

As the hub, the kitchen is the first room I sort out when we move. I need to be able to cook to settle into a place, so I have to get everything put away. Here, I quickly learned how this is an architecturally designed kitchen, rather than a functional one. The many cabinets are shallow, with two (too tall) shelves rather than a more practical three, meaning that there is very little storage despite having more cabinets than I had in the other house. I had to reorganize at least three times as I unpacked boxes, trying to figure out the most efficient way to maximize the space and keep it as useful as possible. Another (minor) woe is the oven is somehow slightly smaller than standard size (which is already significantly smaller than American ovens), giving me strong misgivings about roasting a turkey in there late next week. Hm...

My favorite feature is the glass walls between the countertops and the cabinets. I've always wanted a chalkboard painted space in my kitchen, but this serves the purpose just as well with a more modern feel. I write notes to myself about meals, menu prep and groceries right on the wall with Vis-a-Vis markers. So handy!

Stephanie's favorite feature is the pantry. In our other house, all food was kept in Mama-height cabinets, well out of reach. Now, it's self-serve all the time (even if that's not exactly what Mama intended)! If Stephanie goes missing for an extended period, you can guess you'll find her hiding in the pantry, probably eating something verboten (like Nutella by the fistful). She almost completely shuts herself in there, only leaving the door cracked enough for her fingers to pull it shut and a small sliver of light to illuminate her mischievous deeds. I wish I had a picture for you, but alas, none have come out yet. The two-fisted Nutella morning was rather amusing, though I was slightly concerned about the half-full jar (it had been almost new). Ahem.

We were able to cart over our fridge from the other house. We had purchased it to fit that limited space (that kitchen was designed with the fridge as an afterthought, since the owners weren't providing one), and we were lucky it fit in here too. The dishwasher is a bottom-dollar throw-in (is quite small and only "cleans" if you have heavily pre-rinsed), but it seems to serve the purpose. There is no microwave, so we'll probably buy one though thus far we're getting by just fine without.

The trickiest part to organizing this house is the open plan structure. There is no obvious place to set things like keys, sunscreen and tissue boxes, because everything is always out in the open.

Even daily (constant) use stuff looks like clutter, which drives Markus crazy and makes even me feel like it should be put away...though there is no place to put it. We really want to avoid the trap of buying furniture for the bigger house (never a great plan), but we're having a hard time seeing a way around it in some instances.

On the upside, this open plan kitchen makes it a very easy central space when entertaining. Everyone can hang out in and around the kitchen (where everyone ends up anyway) without everyone tripping on each other. Would you like to come over for dinner?


Mimi said...

Yes I would LOVE to come over for dinner. What time shall I be there? What can I bring? Although the woes of your house are clear through your excellent (as always) commentary and pictures, you write so delightfully that even bad and difficult features seem unique and quirky rather than irritating and frustrating. If you could write the life stories for everyone in this manner, I am convinced no one would ever be in a bad mood ever again! You have the eye to turn a picture into a thousand words, yet leave me longing for more than a thousand words, because I love to read your posts. Have I ever mentioned how marvelous beautiful and talented I think you are?

You have 2 years to organize and unpack, don't stress. You are right the house is big and not very cozy (yet) but with your pictures and your own furniture, it will soon be home sweet home. The garage is a big bonus as far as shade is concerned, the same will be true in rain and wind as well! I know you will make this house into your own unique space for your wonderful family, you always do.

You remind me daily that a home is not someplace that you move into, it is something that you create with whatever space and surroundings you are given. You do it beautifully.

Mimi said...

p.s. I LOVE the image of you taking the picture reflected in the glass wall! Even in reflection, you are so dang CUTE!