By Barbara Falconer Newhall
My two kids are about to set up housekeeping with their very significant significant others. My son and his brand new wife are thinking of trading in their townhouse for a house. My daughter and her boyfriend are looking for an apartment together. Among other things, they will be looking at kitchens.
I’d like to tell them what to look for. I’ve got so many ideas, really good ones, on the subject of kitchens.
The sweaty ladies in my Zumba class, however, have advised me to keep my kitchen wisdom to myself, shrewd and wonderful and hard-earned and rich with life experience though it is.
I’m taking their advice. I’m going to write about the five handiest features in my kitchen as your friendly, helpful blogger — and not as the family matriarch passing along her superb kitchen organizing ideas to four young folks who will surely do it all wrong if they don’t listen to her.
1. Go for a window over the sink.
Whether you’re the cook or the dishwasher, the sink is where you’ll spend the most time. Make it a place that connects you to the outside world. If it can’t be a window, try for a view into the dining or living area.
2. Opt for one large single sink.
Don’t get one of those awkward double sinks. If you’ve got one big sink, the entire greasy broiler pan will fit right into it for an overnight soak: nice and neat, no greasy water slopping onto the
kitchen counter. And you’ll still have lots of space left over at the opposite end of the sink for scrubbing a pot or filling a vase with water.
Now that meats and poultry are so often contaminated with bacteria, the old two-sink solution doesn’t make much sense to me anymore. The kitchen sink is one of the dirtiest places in the house. Filling one with water to wash dishes or fruits and vegetables just doesn’t feel safe. Besides, who wants to dig the gunk out of the drain basket of the sink that has no garbage disposal? If you want to wash dishes by hand, two wash tubs will fit handily into your one large sink.
Baby bonus: a baby bathtub will fit right into a big sink, and the baby will be at the right height for both his safety and yours – just in case there’s a baby in your future. (Is there?)
3. Get one of those pull-out trash can drawers.
We love ours. When Jon is cooking or I’m doing the dishes, we pull the drawer out and keep it
open while we work. This makes it easy to scrape dinner plates or pitch avocado pits right into the can.
With a trash can drawer, you don’t have to open the under-sink cupboard door (when your hands are wet or messy) to pull out the trash can every time something needs throwing away. When the cooking or clean-up is over, the trash drawer closes and the mess disappears. (This feature was suggested by our designer at Custom Kitchens in Oakland, CA, when we remodeled in 2000.)
4. Use that useless space.
This one’s my favorite tip.You can make use of that impractical, unreachable space over the refrigerator by installing vertical shelving. Use it for cookie sheets, platters and serving trays. No more hunting around for a
stepstool to get access to that space. No more trying to pull one pot or platter out from under another while standing on your tip toes. Even short folks like me can safely pull out a heavy tray with one hand and grab it from below with the other. (I got this idea from my short mother-in-law.)
5. Plan ahead for a decorative bar.
Before the granite or tile or sheet rock is applied to the wall behind your new stove top, have the contractor put in some plywood behind it. When the wall is finished – and before the
contractor departs – have the carpenters drill through the wall and into the plywood to securely install a decorative rod, from which you can then hang cooking utensils, an interesting plate or a cooktop-safe wall hanging.
Any questions, kids?