Well, that could be a little stretch. Sometime years ago we bought these shelves for a display in our store. No longer having a need for them, they’ve been gathering dust in the barn for about 4 years now. But when you’ve had something for “several years” it feels like it’s free.

After my niece and sister-in-law moved in a couple of weeks ago, it was obvious that our little 12′ x 12′ kitchen, outfitted with a cute little 2-seater marble table, would not accommodate us all. The dining room is a bit formal for everyday use, so I transformed our glassed in porch into a dining area/reading room. It’s a great room because it provides a view of the yard on 3 sides and at 12′ x 16′ I was able to squeeze in a table that seats 6 plus a comfy old couch that I covered with a $30 slipcover. Of course, it’s got a freestanding gas stove in the corner that will allow meals by firelight this winter. The room is very informal and cozy, happy and cheerful.

Moving the seating from my kitchen was a hard decision, because I spend a lot of time in there. It’s got a tv in the corner so I’m entertained while I cook. But with only about 8′ of counter space spread across 3 walls, it wasn’t a kitchen that more than 1 person could really work in. What drove me absolutely INSANE is a floor-to-ceiling cupboard that’s 30″ deep. It holds a lot of stuff, but every time I went to cook I had to remove several layers of food to find the flour, sugar and whatever. I spent more time looking for my ingredients than I did cooking a meal sometimes.

Our house was built in 1973 and it’s not a small house, but the kitchen is just proportionately small. However, when I think about the several houses we lived in during the 1960’s and ’70’s when I was a kid, this was a pretty standard size. However, we now have so many more gadgets these days (and a hugely greater variety of food to store) that 1970’s kitchens just don’t cut it any more.

So while my husband was gone on vacation, I removed the table and a corner cupboard. I had dishes and knickknacks and such ALL OVER THE KITCHEN COUNTERS, AND STOVE, AND THE FLOOR IN FRONT OF THEM when a big storm arrived, carrying in a tornado with it, and knocking out the power from June 30 to July 3. It was somewhere north of 100 degrees on July 4 so I spent the day inside installing the shelves. Believe it or not, these white metal shelf brackets were all that Lowe’s had that day, so while I would have liked some nice natural wood brackets, I was determined to get those shelves installed that day.

I spent $18 on the shelf brackets. Now, all I needed was a countertop to make my new workstation/display storage complete. I visited the local big box stores hoping to find a scrap of marble or granite or something. No such luck, anything I needed would have to be special cut and would take several days to weeks. Plus, I didn’t want to put several hundred dollars into this until I knew I’d like it enough to make it semi-permanent.

On a lark I went to the Re-Store owned by Habitat for Humanity and found a brand-new unfinished wooden interior door for $5. However, when I went to check out, it was 60% off so I only paid $2 for it! I brought it home, stained it and put 2 coats of polyurethane on it to make it waterproof and voila! I have a new kitchen with a great work station, and all my common cooking ingredients are in tidy glass jars. When I canned this weekend, this design turned out to be delightful, offering plenty of work space for peeling, cutting, mixing, cooling jars, etc.

My someday project will be removing the wall between the dining room and kitchen, but I was able to do this project on my own in about 5 hours. I still get the excitement of having something “new”. Change always makes me happy.

When Mike came home I was all excited to show him my project. He was less than ecstatic, but I caught him preparing some stuff for the grill yesterday and he seemed pretty impressed with how easy it was for him to find the mixing bowls, the seasoning for the grilled veggies and the platter to bring them in on. Plus, he was impressed that I found studs for those brackets and he’s not afraid they’ll fall down now.

The good side of this design is that when I’m cooking, there’s nowhere for people to huddle and sit, and I can have the kitchen to myself while I’m trying to concentrate on what I’m doing.

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