The Worst Kitchen Ever

The kitchen is still a work in progress, but we have a lot more available workspace now, and items are stored more efficiently as well. The pumpkin went to compost – I had hoped to roast it but we could not even puncture the skin with a knife!

This post started out as an ultimate first world problem rant. I had had a particularly stressful day in the kitchen, and decided that in Brett and my nearly 46 years together, and having lived with with 18 different kitchens (not counting the kitchens we used when we were traveling full time), this one was the WORST. Ever.

As Brett said that day, sometimes it feels like the only thing our kitchen is useful for is making a cocktail. Cooking a meal or baking? Storing food or cookware? Not so much.

Is it the worst ever though? Not by a long shot – I shudder when I think of some of the kitchens we’ve lived with, that were no where near as nice as the one we have now. But my frustrations that day had me pouring over The Container Store’s website, ready to spend hundreds on kitchen organizers.

As I examined products and took measurements, the search for the best solution became more and more complicated and as it became more complicated, I became more frustrated. I kept trying to remind myself that our guideline for the year was simple, and all the effort I was putting into this was anything but.

What was missing from our kitchen, I eventually realized, was a lack of imagination and organization, two things I’m normally pretty good at. I’d lived with things the way they were in the kitchen since we had unpacked five months ago, but had never thought to question since then if that was the best or most efficient way to set things up.

I shut down the Container Store website, put away the measuring tape, and sat quietly for a while to think about what we had, and if there was a better way to do things. Eventually a picture began to take shape, and I figured out that although there were a couple of things that could not be moved, most everything else we had could be rearranged to make a more efficient use of the space. I moved around what I had stored in the drawers so everything fit better. Items that we’d always kept on our counter in other kitchens but didn’t fit here were moved to locations where they did fit. Cabinets were rearranged, and a couple of items passed along to our daughter-in-law. She’ll use them more and I can borrow them for the (very) few times I might need them. With these few changes the kitchen almost immediately became a more pleasant place to work, although I think I’m going to need another week or so to remember which drawer things are in now.

The pantry remains a work in progress. It’s still chaotic, but that’s because I had been cramming w-a-y too much stuff in there. Since our arrival in Tennessee, I had been shopping and stockpiling as I did in the past, but have admitted to myself we have no need nor the space to do that now. Different place and different times, so a different way is needed. We’ve spent the last week or so using up items versus accumulating more, and I now know everything that’s in the pantry and where it is. I’m still aiming though for a sweet spot of “just right” when it comes to how much works in the pantry space versus having too much.

I did find one storage/organization item that we are going to purchase: a bread box. It is needed, and both Brett and I love the above one’s look, style, and color. There’s a place for it in the kitchen now and it’s something that will go into one of our suitcases when we move to our next location. But otherwise nothing was purchased. We don’t need more stuff.

Simple, after all, turned out to be the best solution.

14 thoughts on “The Worst Kitchen Ever

  1. We keep our bread in the freezer, if that is at all helpful. It defrosts in less time than it takes to pull out sandwich fixings.

    Like you, I loathe clutter. And I’ve had homes with counter space like what you have now, so I can emphasize. 🙂

    Our current home has lovely counter space but, ironically, only a small and narrow pantry. Instead of fighting it, I adapted to it and, surprisingly and nicely, we are now eating more fresh food, and less shelf stable food. So sometimes life’s challenges can end up leading to positive changes. LOL.


    1. The home we owned before we moved to Hawaii had an amazing kitchen. Not just the counter space (there was loads of it), but the whole layout of the space, including a large walk-in pantry. Everything since has paled in comparison, and the other day I just let the smaller space here get to me. I have less working space than I did in our tiny kitchen in our Hawaii apartment, but more, I realized than I had in other homes we lived in during our time in the navy. Getting things more organized here has made a difference.

      I noticed the other day at Whole Foods that they sell frozen, pre-made baked goods in the bakery; that is, I can buy a package of four croissants, dinner or sandwich rolls, etc. I keep getting ads for a monthly service that sells the same, but they provide way too much – Brett and I just don’t each that much bread these days. A package of six rolls is too much. But, a few packages from WF, where I can pull out a couple of items at a time and bake them fresh, might be a good solution for how we live now and we could skip the bread box.


  2. You have a lot of counter space; probably twice what I have. We keep our bread in the freezer or the refrigerator. You might want to consider that the humidity you will have in TN come Spring and Summer might generate mold on your bread – even in the box.


    1. I just had a difficult day and got whiny about it. I have lived in homes with less counter space than we have now and managed, so I know it’s possible. The issue I have with our counters here is that they’re broken up into four small areas. It’s difficult to roll out dough, for example, or if I’m using the slow cooker I lose a whole piece of counter space and have little to no space for a chopping board. The space was/is not efficiently organized although it’s better than the way I did have it set up.

      Bread items had to go *immediately* in the fridge or freezer when we lived on Kaua’i – talk about humidity and mold! Here I can leave things out for several days, but it creates clutter on the counter top that would be solved by having a bread box. Once the humidity arrives here the A/C goes on, which alleviates much if not all of the mold issue, but I’m thinking maybe buying a few frozen items from Whole Foods and freshly baking them as we need them might be a more efficient (and tasty way to go) overall. Not sure about the cost though so will have to weigh that.


  3. We definitely do not have enough counter space (we do have enough storage & pantry space). We looked at options when we re-did our kitchen, but it would have required knocking down a wall & rewiring for all of our appliances. We left it as is, but there’s definitely not enough space, if we’re both in the kitchen, or trying to prep. Our Seattle house had an incredible kitchen. My mom & I taught my nephew how to prep meals one spring break, and we had four people in the kitchen, all with adequate kitchen space. I still miss it!


    1. Two people in our current kitchen is one too many! And, Brett has a knack for wanting to empty the dishwasher when I’m in there trying to cook – no! Our Portland kitchen was amazing – I once hosted a pie making class for 10 and everyone fit in nicely! Oh well – the little bit of reorganization I did the other day has helped immensely, but I made coq au vin the other day and once again thought I would lose my mind – there was barely enough space for only me to do the prep work involved.

      We’re starting to debate whether we want to move to a larger one-bedroom when our lease is up with this one (same complex). We currently have the smallest floorplan, the others are 150 -200 square feet larger with bigger kitchen and more storage. The downside is whether we want to go through the whole moving process again, pay new fees, etc. I would love the space though, and a bigger kitchen!


  4. This title made me smile. I just finished cooking for three weeks in my DD’s British kitchen with really limited countertop and storage space. There were many times one of us said, “Behind you” to avoid being stepped on. LOL. I realized when I returned home that mine feels like waaaay more than I need, although I’m not complaining. Like you, I still have to stop and remember where I put something when we moved in if it’s something I don’t use often. I guess that’s a target for my decluttering project, though, isn’t it? 😜


    1. Our kitchen in the UK was also tiny, and the small under-counter fridge especially frustrating. I’m grateful here for full-size appliances (after our small ones in Hawaii) but organizing things will remain a work in process. I like that my current space does not allow us to add anything more – I’m even rethinking the bread box!


  5. I dropped Container store for IKEA and Dollar Tree for organization. There are great You Tube hack. You might even look at the people who have full sized RVs.
    I love our current kitchen. It is one of the more open ones that we have lived it. Small kitchens are a challenge!


    1. A small kitchen is a challenge, but doable. I had just let this one sort of flounder after we moved in and never really thought about how best to organize it. I love that everything we have in our kitchen now has a purpose and gets used frequently, from cookie sheets to saucepans.

      Funny thing – the day after my Container Store search I found kitchen organizers at Aldi for a quarter of the price . . . and didn’t buy them! I finally came up with a system that has been working for me without buying any extra. We’re not even going to buy the bread box after all!


  6. I feel ya on this post! My kitchen is small but functional, if there is only one person in there at a time. I often wish that I had more food storage but now realize if I did, I’d probably waste more food since it would be harder to keep track of. I do love kitchen gadgets and have to store them in the large closet in our tv room. I have a specific place for all of our pots, pans, cups, water bottles, plates and gadgets. If something new comes in, it means something else has to leave. A place for everything and everything in its place.
    I used to have a bunch of food storage containers but then realized that my freezer and fridge would be full of leftovers and I still had more empty containers so I was able to get rid of a bunch of those.


    1. I think you have hit the optimal word: functional. Our kitchen now is functional for one . . . barely. Rearranging and getting rid of things has made a huge difference, but I still have to think very carefully about what I’ll be doing and need to do once I’m in there. And like you, we’re at a stage where if one more thing comes in, something else has to go out.

      The bread box idea is no more. We have been trying some of the frozen “take and bake” items from Whole Foods (croissants and turnovers; we still have some scones to try). I have yet to try making a loaf of Dutch oven bread, but it’s on my agenda. Getting all those bread products off the counter has made a BIG difference (and the frozen stuff so far has been GOOD).


      1. Oh, that’s good to know that the frozen items from Whole Foods are tasty. It’s always tough to try something new and fear that it won’t be good-especially with food costs these days!


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