A Kitchen Refresh - Introduction and Planning

I don't want to rush what is left of summer but I just can't help but think about Autumn and baking and new culinary photography ideas.  These thoughts of sun-filled cooler days, rustling colorful leaves, and warm spicy fragrances are swirling in my brain.

Over the last several years, I have found a newly discovered passion for baking.  Whether it is a recipe for homemade bread, cakes, muffins, scones, or pie, I am intrigued and want to try it.  At the same time, as I am teaching myself the science of baking and the proper techniques, I notice I miss many photo ops for awesome blog content and this is a problem.

You may recall that I set up a photography studio for stills in our lower level family room.  It works great for taking images of vintage culinary props, fruits, and vegetables but not so perfect for baking processes and the outcome.  Carting things up and down the stairs, keeping the ingredients fresh and "in the moment" are practically impossible and limits the food/baking photography blog post vision.

It quickly dawned on me that the ideal place to take these types of photos is the kitchen but there were some hurdles I needed to cross to make this space better suited for my needs.  In all honesty, these hurdles are the reasons I have avoided using our kitchen for baking photography. 

The list of hurdles was long and seemed impossible to scale.  But, at the same time, this was a new creative project and I just knew there was an answer.  The answer needed to be affordable, easily done by myself, and not take years and thousands of dollars to complete.

The first step was to get a complete scope of this new project and to make sure the effort was worth the time and energy.  I began with an evaluation of our current kitchen state and how we use this space.

First of all, we have a galley style kitchen with east facing windows - not ideal for natural light.  Entry to the kitchen is on either end - one from a short hallway in the main entry area of the house or from the dining room.  The length of the kitchen is nice and the appliance layout is very functional.  In our house, HE cooks and I bake so we are rarely in the kitchen working at the same time - the galley style works for our needs.

We have beautiful oak cabinets that I do not want to paint. 

Yes, I said it....NOT. Going. To. Paint. 

I have painted kitchen cabinets in the past and let's just say I will not do it again.  The oak cabinets need to stay just as they are.  Fortunately, the cabinets have a Shaker style simplicity and the hardware is workable.  This in itself is a HUGE cost and time savings!

On to the countertops......formica with oak trim.  They too are staying.

I also live with a man who has a thing for black appliances.  Very nice black appliances, but black nonetheless.  When we combined households about 5 years ago, I came from a white appliance world to his dark appliance world and adjusted my kitchen design sense accordingly.  Over the years, I have come to appreciate the sleekness of the black and am enjoying working with this color. 

Our microwave and refrigerator are quite new and we have both decided it is time to replace the range.  Currently an almond color, our range has served us well but I started to notice that the oven is heating very unevenly and although the smooth cooktop is working well, we would both like to have the 5 burner areas rather than the 4 we currently have.  Convection oven features are still up for debate and that will continue to be a topic for discussion.

This man is also one that does not like to throw anything away.  He is the "keeper" and I am the "tosser".  Together we make the perfect team of necessity!  We meet in the middle, discuss the actual usage, and it is usually me that has the courage to toss or donate.  When he and I combined households, we simply rearranged our belongings to all fit together.  This will also give you an idea of the over abundance of kitchen things we have crammed into poorly utilized kitchen spaces.

Speaking of poorly used kitchen spaces.....a MAJOR cabinet gutting, sorting, cleaning, and reorganizing was needed A-SAP!  I want to pull everything out of each cabinet and drawer, sort the items, and rearrange them into new neatly organized serviceable areas.  

Our kitchen has not been updated in a veeerrrrrryyyyy long time.  The wood trim on both windows is dark brown.  There is a heavy wood soffit around the cabinet area that is also dark brown.  To add to the dark brown trim, we have a suspended ceiling that is decorated with dark brown beams which are nice but again, they are dark brown.  Additionally, there is a half-wall at the main entry end of the kitchen with a large spindle support (not on a support wall - just decorative) that is .....you guessed it....dark brown and very thick.

Finally, there is a large hutch type, floor-to-ceiling cabinet on the end of the kitchen at the main entry area that although nice, is worthless for storage.  The shelves are too narrow and the upper cabinet section too small for anything other display pieces.  It was taking up valuable real estate and I was not afraid to take it down.

 So here I am....in the middle of a HUGE pre-refresh kitchen mess.  Starting this project from the inside out, I am beginning with cabinet purge, reorganizing, and cleaning process.  With that, what better time to take BEFORE pictures than when the kitchen looks like a thrift sale on a rainy day....

Here we go.....please remember, a properly done project needs to get worse before it gets better....

Photo Jul 14, 9 36 04 AM.jpg

This is our kitchen in the middle of my cabinet cleaning, looking in from the dining room:

Number 1 - notice the dark brown trim, beams, and soffit?

Number 2 - notice the hutch-type cabinet on the on the far wall?

Number 3 - notice the massive amount of clutter, refrigerator clippings, and the white basket that hold the countless ZipLoc containers we have?

Yep, me too.

Onward into the madness we go.....

Photo Jul 14, 9 37 45 AM.jpg

Ah yes....here it is.  The 1970's dark brown spindle.  The awful hutchy cabinet thing that drives me crazy all accented by dark brown window trim and dark brown beams.

Hmmmm....ok....let's continue......

Photo Jul 15, 5 59 13 AM.jpg

I love that we have a window looking out into the trees right at the kitchen sink.  I do not love the the brown trim on said window OR the color of the walls throughout the kitchen.

Next is a view of the nice counter area on the opposite side of the sink.  This is actually a nice size area for kneading bread dough, rolling pie crusts, or scooping cookie dough AND has perfectly placed outlets for my KitchenAid mixer.

Photo Jul 15, 6 00 21 AM.jpg

Yes, the Little Debbie collection is to keep my momentum charged so here we go.  List in hand.  Projects nicely planned for maximum results with limited time.  Visions of WHITE WHITE WHITE covering the dark brown.  Open, airy, bright, clean, and organized.....I can see it already!

Next Up...cabinet and drawer cleaning and reorganization.  White primer has taken over the dark brown and my version/process of removing an unwanted spindle and cupboard hutch - it is looking so much better already!