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Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants.

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April 13, 2009 8:00 AM

Nancy (finally) gets a kitchen remodel: your ideas?

Posted by Nancy Leson

Last week's post about Cafe Flora's remodel and their interesting use of recycled materials has given me some great ideas, seeing as we're getting ready to do a major kitchen makeover. Our house is old: circa 1930ish. And though Mac has remodeled the kitchen before in the decades since he moved in, this is my big chance to turn that space into something far more comfortable to cook -- and eat -- in. (Counter space! A garbage disposal! Be still my beating heart!)

We're not planning on doing anything fancy, like changing the house's footprint or installing an Aga Cooker, but we do have some ideas we're considering. Like an industrial restaurant-style sink and butcher-block counter tops. And though we're not (I repeat, not!) spending a fortune on the project, we do expect to invest in a high-quality stove with plenty of BTUs and a decent hood to go with it. That way, our smoke alarm won't go off every time I'm deglazing a pan or sauteing over high heat. (Our security system works like a charm. I know this because the company that monitors the fire alarm calls our house at least once a month to make sure it's not burning down.)

Mac and I have next to no design sense, and our idea of "decor" (as you may have noticed if you look at this blog much) is bookshelves galore and lots of little tables filled with magazines and newspapers. If my husband the ancient mariner had his way, our kitchen would have a cement floor that we could hose down (I'm praying for some kind of Pergo-like product), and simple cabinets like the ones he built and painted with high-gloss the last time he remodeled:



Fortunately we've got a great builder-friend who's done the design for us. He plans to knock out a wall and a funky old bathroom to increase the size of our kitchen. He'll also blow out a lot of spiderweb-y basement space and take advantage of a sunny little dining room-with-a-view we use as a giant pantry. The wall behind the stove and dishwasher (the bathroom's on the other side) will go away. Ditto for the door you see below, and the stairs behind it, though I plan on salvaging the door's glass knob and hardware:



Don't laugh! We bought that portable dishwasher 10 years ago for $150 bucks and it owes us nothing. So what if it leaks water onto the floor every time I use it: it's got a butcher-block top, and I make good use of it given my lack of counter space. The refrigerator below was free, courtesy of our next-door-neighbor Kathleen -- who moved in after the family who sold us the dishwasher moved out:


You may have read about Kathleen's fridge in this story about my freezers. It's since been moved from the basement to the kitchen, where it took the place of its Frigidaire "twin." We did the switcheroo last year when the one we'd bought a dozen years ago started making a racket that was keeping us up nights. It's still making a ton of noise, but since it's in the basement we can't hear it, and it's doing a pretty good job keeping the beer cold and housing leftover Chinese food and such.

And here's that sunny little dining room disguised as a pantry I was telling you about earlier:



Yes, it's lovely. But It's hotter than Hades in summer and freezing cold in winter -- thanks to the single-pane windows (those will be replaced with windows that open, hallelujah!). Our plans call for moving the entire cooking area in here to take better advantage of the view and "the flow" -- whatever that is. We'll be using what's now the galley kitchen/bathroom as a dining area. I suppose we'll have to find another place for these Costco shelves (which can't be beat for price or convenience) since I'm keeping my fingers crossed we'll have room for a "real" pantry:


And when our remodel's finished, we may (or may not) buy a new dining table. Not that there's anything wrong with the one I bought on sale 20 years ago at that antique warehouse on Westlake Avenue -- if you don't count the scratched surface, sorely in need of refinishing:



Speaking of sales, anybody want to buy a dog? She's awfully cute! And that's a very good thing or I'd have to kill her.

Anyway, if anybody has some good shopping, remodeling or salvaging ideas, "Don't do thises" or "Do do that's" -- or tips on how to survive a marriage when your house is being remodeled, trust me: I could use all the help I can get. And yes, we're considering moving into a neighbor's house this summer while she's out of town. Hopefully, our dog will stay off her dining room table.

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