Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Kitchen As Parking Lot

The twentieth century domestic kitchen was modeled on the pass pantry,  a service area fitted with cupboards for dishes and serving ware. By that time, industry had eliminated much of the scut work of food preparation by providing canned food and sliced bread. The main room of my 1890 kitchen is a production area. Originally, it contained only a generous wood range, a plumbed sink with no drain boards, and the water heater attached to the range. Presumably the original owner had a work table, possibly one with flour and sugar bins under a zinc or enameled steel top. It seems clear that the neighborhood was laid out to accommodate kitchen gardens. There's a big canning cupboard in the basement, and the Pike Place market is a twenty minute walk away. Grocers delivered.

After we bought the house, more than one friend looked around the kitchen and wailed in pity. I was not daunted. Ignorance, years spent hiking, and sticking to my theory that an 1890 house would be manageable thanks to twentieth century wood finishes and electric appliances overcame my doubts. Susan Strasser's Never Done, the history of American housekeeping that was composed a few blocks north of here, filled in the blanks of my apprenticeship with grandmother. Contemporary small space appliances made short work of fitting amenities into the ells of a room built around a chimney. Six doors in the space make it essential to factor movement into the placement of ordinary fittings.

Over nearly forty years, the kitchen has been rearranged many times to keep up with changes in the size of the family and the way we use the rest of the house. Because the property is in an area that is being developed, I have had no reason to commit to a big budget kitchen remodeling. I have loved every minute of living like an enlightened tenant who is free to experiment. Recently, it became obvious that adding a modular adjustable epoxy-coated cart on sturdy wheels would make it easier to move the free-standing convection oven. To keep the house sweet-smelling, cook bakes fragrant things on the lattice-enclosed back porch.


After the cart arrived from Hold Everything, I knocked it together in minutes using a woodworker's lignum vita mallet. The mallet saves so much trouble that it is worth paying for and storing. The restaurant standard industrial units are modular with the spaces in the house. It's trivial to reconfigure the kitchen. Fifteen minutes will suffice for a complete remodel after I finish tapping out this post -30-

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