Late Night Kitchen Makeover

Why does one start a massive kitchen makeover at 11 pm the night before he’s flying home to Florida, when he’s yet to do his laundry, pack his suitcase, or finish the homework he must do for class the next day? To answer such a question is to penetrate the psyche of one Amateur Gourmet and so it is with a profound sense of mystery and a certain amount of pride that I present to you my gleaming new kitchen makeover, accomplished two nights ago in a fit of hysterical renewal.

[Click to make larger.]

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I feel so dumb for not taking a “before” picture: this kitchen was a MESS. Spices were scattered all over the countertop, little plastic containers of popcorn and candied ginger were stacked in random corners, and giant bottles of olive oil and vinegar monopolized much of the countertop. As you can see, I installed a spice rack that I purchased from the Container Store; I switched the location of the food processor and the freestanding mixer (they were on opposite ends before) because I figured one could be the chopping station (to the right of the sink) (see also: cutting board) and one could be the baking station to the left of the sink. And I’m hoping that the space opened up near the mixer is large enough to roll out pie dough.

As for the cabinets, what was formerly a world of chaos is now a semi-orderly world of calm. Proceed ahead to see how I put things in a much more logical order.

Now I suppose it’s difficult to appreciate these accomplishments without really having toured my kitchen in the past. Again, I regret not taking those “before” pictures. But at least I can explain to you the changes i made and why I made them. Let’s tour cabinet number one, shall we?

[You can also click this to make it bigger, as you can for all the other pics in this post.]

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Now here I was very excited because I resolved a problem that haunted me in the past: namely, vertical space.

As you’ll see momentarily with the other shelves, all the cabinets are bifurcated right down the middle making it impossible to store bottles beyond a certain height. For me, this meant that most of my oil and most of my vinegar wouldn’t fit standing up on the shelf. So it took up lots of counter space and my cooking suffered immeasurably. (Haha, wouldn’t it be great to blame my failures in the kitchen on a lack of counter space?)

Being an enterprising person, I decided to tackle the problem head on. As you can see, that shelf is supported by little brackets that go into little holes. The simple solution would be: remove the shelf, move the brackets higher and reinsert the shelf. Easy as pie.

But not so easy. The shelf didn’t slide off because the doors blocked the way. To get the shelf off I’d have to remove the doors and to remove the doors I’d need to unscrew the mechanisms holding the doors into place. And this took work. I don’t have an electric screwdriver, so I exerted a good amount of effort getting those screws out. (Actually, that’s not true–they were easy to get out–but I want you to be impressed.) Finally, I got the doors off, I got the shelf out, I moved the brackets up two notches, and reinserted the shelf and all my oils and vinegars finally had a home.

So organizationally speaking, the bottom shelf here is obviously the oil/vinegar shelf. There’s also cooking twine because–well–that’s where I thought to put it. The top shelf is more loosely defined. On the left is coffee and tea; on the right are condiments. You can see tabasco sauce, maple syrup, praline spread from Le Pain Quotidien, Creme de Nougat Noir that Clotilde brought me when she visited but which I’ve never opened because I want it for something special and I never have anything special to put it on (maybe one day I’ll make my own brioche?), Nutella and honey. So sweet things you put on other things except for Tabasco sauce.

Now for cabinet number two:

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This is the cabinet I’m most proud of. I call it: The Baking Cabinet.

And here it all just makes sense. Bottom shelf is flour and sugar and salt and other baking implements. (You may ask: “Why Red Kidney beans?” And I’d have a very good answer. Can you figure it out? Are you ready?…… it’s for making pie. I use the kidney beans to weigh down the crust when I prebake it. Aha, so beans are baking related.)

The top shelf is just my arsenal of sugars and chocolates and molasseses.

This is my best cabinet because it’s the one dearest to my heart: I love to bake more than anything else and this cabinet proves it.

Finally, there’s cabinet number 3:

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This one kind of makes sense, but not as much sense as the others. On the bottom is the pasta shelf; or, more appropriately: the grain shelf. There’s spaghetti, fettucine, rice, egg noodles, polenta, etc. As you move right, you see nuts until you reach popcorn and raisins and cloves. There is no explanation for this. Just go with me here.

On the top shelf are canned goods, international goods, honey and crystallized ginger. I suppose the honey should go on the other shelf (top of cabinet one) but there’s no room because, if you remember, I raised that one. So this honey’s in a different family. And it has a friend in the ginger.

And that, my friends, is my newly redesigned, re-conceived and re-executed kitchen. I finished at 3 am with just enough time to finish packing. I left my apartment the next day with a renewed vigor and a glowing sense of accomplishment.

I am the Amateur Gourmet and I have an organized kitchen.

14 comments

  1. Hehehehe. I’ve found myself tidying and washing dishes at 1am. The baking shelf is definitely the most fun to rearrange (ah, domestication). More frightening was when I found myself pounding masala chai spices in a mortar and pestle at 2am after a 15hour stint in the lab…

  2. Adam! Is that a glass cutting board? Tisk, tisk. Don’t you know those are the worst kind of boards for your knives? It dulls them terribly. Wood is the best as it is soft and it traps bacteria in the center to die… or so they say on the Food Network.

  3. Where do you guys see a glass cutting board? If you enlarge the first picture you’ll see my large wooden cutting board leaning against the wall in my “chopping station.” I’ve never even SEEN a glass cutting board in my life! But it’s true, I used to use plastic cutting boards until one of my readers told me to buy a wooden one. Not only is that one wooden, it’s made of bamboo. I’d like to think there’s one less panda in the world because of me…

  4. Adam, sweetie, I say this to help: your type of cabinet hinges should pop off easily. Reach with inside the cabinet, feel at the back of the hinge and pull forward. (I’m going to add a note on your flickr pic about where I mean.) Euro hinges are designed to snap in and out of cabinets. Yours could be different, but give it a try.

    Another way to move up your shelves without moving your doors is to pivot up the front of the shelf, move up your shelf pins, pivot up the back, etc.

  5. Awww, give the guy a break on the cabinet doors. He’s the Amateur Gourmet, not the Amateur Carpenter or Amateur Handyman. Now if you want to see a real disaster you should look into my pantry. But don’t get to close, something might grab you and drag you in, and there’s no way I’m going in after.

  6. Hi Melissa,

    Actually, those hinges hold from the top and bottom so you can’t just lift the shelf—you have to slide it outward, which you can’t do because the doors block the way. Where’s Bob Vila when you need him?

    Adam

  7. Oh, I see about how your shelves are locked in. That is a pain, but you should still be able to pop the doors off rather than unscrew anything. I’ve worked with those hinges many times before, which is why I mentioned anything. Not trying to give you a hard time. :-)

  8. Adding my Adam, sweetie, to the bunch. You don’t need to take the shelves out, nor the doors off. You simply lift the shelf, tip it, say, left front up, right rear down, move the brackets, raise or lower the tipped shelf appropriately, and rest it in the new position. Voila!

    Lest I sound condescending, let me tell you that I come from a family which is uber great with spatial things. I am the spatially challenged one. When we were having new kitchen cabinets installed, I volunteered to put the shelves in. I got one wedged in their so firmly, at about a 45 degree angle, that my engineer uncle was afraid they’d have to saw it to get it out. :G:

    So, I speak from trial and error experience. Try it. You’ll see it works and will be saved a lot of work for the next time you decide to reconfigure.

  9. I redid my pantry a few months ago and IT IS STILL IN ORDER. There is no feeling like it. This post makes me want to post my own pictures…..

  10. I happened across your blog this morning looking for a specific type of hinge (by way of google). Stuck around long enough to read your comment on your bamboo cutting board…

    Bamboo has LOTS of silica in it. Which means it will dull your knives about as fast as glass actually. How do I know this? I make bamboo fly rods and bamboo is terribly harsh on the planing blades we use (and they’re made of harder carbon steel than any kitchen knife). You might want to go get a wood board anyway.

    And, NICE KITCHEN! Makes a lot of difference doesn’t it?

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