Where the Magic Happens....

I have been following S'kat's kitchen renovation over at Bistro 613, and it prompted me to think about my kitchen, the things I love about it and the things I would change. For someone who loves to cook there is no room more important than the kitchen. In fact, as far as I am concerned the kitchen is the heart of the home. I have only had two kitchens of my own. Our first home was an 1100 square foot duplex that was built in World War I as the first federal housing project for workers at the Newport News shipyard (Picture, right is actually my street). My kitchen was about 12x12 and at the time we bought the house it had the gas hot water heater in one corner and the furnace boiler in the other corner. I have seen closets that were bigger than this kitchen.

My kitchen was such a singular place, that when I was taking a nonfiction writing class and we were asked to write an essay about our favorite place, while my 18-year old classmates were writing about under their favorite tree or at the beach, I wrote about my kitchen with the hulking furnace, the floor that was pitched enough you had to be careful opening the oven door, and how, despite its ugliness, guests always congregated there. (I got an ovation when I had to read it aloud to the class!) Over the years, we were able to relocate the water heater, add additional cabinets and a dishwasher (after about 10 years of doing without). Now that we have made this house into a rental, it has had a new fridge added, new paint, a new range and new flooring. It looks better now than it ever did when we lived there!

When we moved to this house and decided to add on, we spent the most time making decisions about the kitchen. I wanted a ceramic tile floor (5 kids, 2 dogs!), an island, a gas range, Corian countertops. Since we were adding a large two-story addition, we had to make compromises in order to fit in the budget and so I got a Dacor dual-fuel gas range (which I love), great tile floors, and a Bosch dishwasher. There was neither room nor money for an island, so I gave that up. We selected white cabinets (easy to change color scheme, easy to clean), and had to resort to Formica counters (damn the budget!) But when complete, this kitchen was easy care, bright, and guess what? It still is the heartbeat of our home.

What do I love- the floor (so easy to care for), the range (Dacor has the best customer service ever!), my pantry (I love having a place to stockpile all the staples for our meals), our extra freezer (we have an upright where we store meats and other frozen goods that we buy in bulk or on special)

What would I change- the countertops (Solid surface looks so much more upscale, and is more durable), range hood (mine is way too noisy when it is on high)

What do you love about your kitchen? Are there things you wish you had? What would your dream kitchen look like? I'd love to hear from other foodies (and love even more to see your pictures!)
Note: if you want to see some awesome kitchen ideas, check out
HGTV top ten kitchens (where my fantasy kitchen came from!)
Above, my real kitchen; Right below, my fantasy kitchen (the difference? About $350K!)


Ronnie said…
Deborah, what a coincidence. I was just sitting down to write a blog post about mine in our new house in Maine. It is in serious need of renovation and will be the first thing we do here. Stop by soon to read it but the essence is that you can make a house a home by what you create in your kitchen-no matter how rustic it is.
Kerrie said…
Just starting out in life and we live in a condo with its ultra modern (read ikea) kitchen, it does the best that it can, ample drawers, but no pantry. We had to have someone come in and re-enforce the hanging cabinets since after I loaded them up we were concerned that might fall. But what I dream of in the next kitchen is a separate standing freezer. Ok and tons more space so the ice cream maker does not have to live in the storage unit or the mixer on top of the fridge.

Deborah Dowd said…
Ronnie- I will be stopping by, but you are so right about the spirit of warmth in your kitchen is more important than the accoutrements (some of my best meals have been camping outdoors with a propane stove!)

Kerrie- It seems like no matter how much room a cook has, she always could use just a bit more!
s'kat said…
That first kitchen certainly must have made you appreciate all the more what you have now!

And my goodness, don't our tiles look very similar! Love it!

More tear-out and installation is going on today, but by this time next week, it will all be done! :)
startcooking said…
Deborah your new kitchen looks lovely!
My kitchen (where I film all of startcooking.com) is the size of a postage stamp. Three people standing are a crowd in my kitchen. I have actually squeezed 5 people around my 30 inch round kitchen table, but only close friends! :)
I do have a laundry room with an extra fridge and stove top and oven which is a huge help when entertaining.
My dream kitchen is BIG, really BIG! I would love lots of counter space and storage space. Oh and maybe even a couch or a few comfortable chairs in addition to a table that would comfortably seat 6.
The only way all that will happen is if I knock down a few walls but I think my husband would really miss the living room!
Cheers! Kathy
Deborah Dowd said…
S'kat- I can hardly wait to see the final product (and I know you can't wait to put it to use! Have you thought of what your first meal is going to be?

Kathy- Oh, who needs a living room anyway! You do a great job on StartCooking at making your kitchen look very spacious!
Doodles said…
Deborah...your kitchen is lovely. My kitchen is in a 33 ft RV. And as Ronnie said "you can make a house a home by what you create in your kitchen-no matter how rustic it is."
Mine isn't rustic but it is small. However since there is just the two of us and our cat...it's perfect.
You know if you wait long enough - a kitchen in need of renovation starts to acquire some shabby chic....
At least that is what I am counting on!
Martha said…

Your Real and Dream Kitchen blog is great! I'm sending some friends to read all about it

Jeena said…
Hi there my name is Jeena and I have started a food recipe forum that I thought you would like to join here Click here for food recipe forum

I would love to see you on there to chat about food and cooking you can talk about anything you like and start your very own topics. :-)
or see my main food recipe website Jeenas food recipe site

Hope to see you soon


Jeena x
Hit Pay Dirt said…
Deborah, I just discovered your blog through Tiny Farm Blog and I love your writing. I look forward to following more of your adventures - whether they be cooking, eating, kitchen renos... :)
Deborah Dowd said…
Doodles- I have cooked some of my favorite meals on a little propane camp stove! It is the spirit of the family, no matter its state and size that makes a kitchen!

Great big vegetable challenge- Good approach! Besides, you can make a little or out-dated kitchen "retro".

Martha- Hope your venture into blogging works out(and I hope you will check back in)

Jeena- I will be checking in!

Hit Pay Dirt- Thanks so much for the kind words! I hope you will be a frequent visitor.
My dream kitchen would include a HUGE work station so I could spread out dishes I was making. I'd have a built-in butcher block counter top (had one once and thought it was the best!) for rolling out the dough. I'd also have a really deep sink so I could wash pots and pans without soaking myself!
Joy said…
I agree that kitchens are the heart of the home. I'm in my first place and the kitchen is the room that I need to tackle but it's too expensive at the moment. In an ideal world it would be a big old room with cream shaker cabinets, solid wood surfaces and plenty of space to display my vintage china bits and bobs. Oh and a sofa and a separate pantry. Not asking too much am I?!
Deborah Dowd said…
Susan-You are so right about having "spread-out space"! It is a drag to have pans spread across tables, counters, etc.

Joy- Kitchens can be really expensive to rework, and it is a really daunting job because it means you have to do without a kitchen to get it done!
Deborah Dowd said…
Susan-You are so right about having "spread-out space"! It is a drag to have pans spread across tables, counters, etc.

Joy- Kitchens can be really expensive to rework, and it is a really daunting job because it means you have to do without a kitchen to get it done!