OT - Mark Bittman on tiny kitchens

janranDecember 14, 2008

This article was in today's NY Times. Thought you might enjoy it.

So your kitchen is tiny. So what

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Yes! What a great article.

Thanks so much for posting that.

And thanks to Mark Bittman for writing it.


Have a good holiday everyone!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 10:10AM
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True, but I am really enjoying the time savings I have with my new kitchen. I feel I can cook and clean up in half the time, and stay calmer while doing so. And the pleasure of having burners that function as they should is wonderful-- no more setting the cast iron fry pan in oven, heating the oven to 450 degrees, and lobbing in meat to sear it.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 12:37PM
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Great article and so true. Most of the expensive appliances we crave are status symbols.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 12:41PM
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Thanks so much for posting the link. I have a very small kitchen (smallest one I've ever seen that's in an actual house). Mobile homes have bigger ones!
I am remodeling soon, but the square footage must remain small (about 72 square feet). So will concentrate on more efficient cabinets, smaller appliances, better lighting and (if budgets allow), a skylight to lessen the cave-like feeling.
I'm glad to see that there is someone out there that doesn't feel sorry for me because I suffer from Kitchen Deprivation.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 12:57PM
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Wow! His kitchen is even smaller than mine! (6x7 vs. 7x10) In fact, it makes mine seem absolutely palatial.

Actually, having just been through the exercise of trying to fit all my appliances plus sink on a nearly 10' wall, I can't figure out how he fit everything into only 7'. Fridge and stove alone should be 60" - that's 5'. So only 2' left for sink + dishwasher??? Even saying the fridge is a little smaller (it looks like he has a full-size stove), that's still not enough space.

I want more information!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 1:13PM
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LOVED this article... thanks for passing it along.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 3:01PM
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This was a great article. My kitchen 2 houses ago was so small that I could pivot to reach my stove and sink on different walls. My refrigerator had to be in a closet down the hallway because it wouldn't fit in the room. I could definitely cook in that kitchen and did so. My present kitchen isn't fancy, however it's much more pleasurable to cook for a group with a little more space. I do understand his point, though...if we want to cook, we can do it anywhere.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 3:37PM
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Charlikin, that's only one side, though.

He seems to have the stove and DW on one side (and the DW might be 18") and so the sink is probably a 24" to the right of that (he said "about 7'). So I'll bet there is a 28" fridge and some cabinets & counter on the other. And that's more than I had before my reno!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 5:10PM
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I read a wonderful article long ago in Gourmet magazine on someone who visited Richard Olney at his modest home in the French countryside. She was shocked to discover how simply he lived - he cooked lunch on a two burner portable unit with beat-up pans. She said it was one of the most delicious meals she'd ever had!

The only reason I disliked my previous small kitchen was that it was a dark hole and there was nothing I could do about it, since it was an old apartment with equally ancient wiring. Other than that it was a miracle of efficiency - I hung everything on the walls I could, and still miss having that big farmhouse sink with the built-in drainboard.........

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 5:20PM
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Beccamj, where would he put another side? The kitchen is only 6' wide! Unless it's an L-shape...but one potential "arm" of the L has a window on it (a big, gorgeous window!), and the other arm - well, someone's taking the photo from that angle, so unless they're taking the photo from within the inside of the refrigerator...

Sorry to be obsessing about this, but I seem to have gotten hung up about the layout of tiny kitchens... ;-)

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 5:53PM
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I loved this article as well! It reminds me of how I have cooked most of my adult life -- in very cramped quarters, without counter space, fancy gadgets, etc. and how much I have oggled grand space kitchens with multiple zones and islands, cathedral ceilings, etc. At the same time, I've never thought that my remodel would make me a better cook per se. Just one who will enjoy better organization and food prep space. And, yes, hopefully, my new kitchen will at least look prettier and be more welcoming to others than the 50-year old unplanned, unfitted small galley I inherited when we bought this house and in which I've been bumping around for the last 20 years! :)

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 6:04PM
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My kitchen is 6 feet wide. It has another side. :D

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 9:21PM
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I loved this article, too. It reminded me of my grandmother who cooked on a wood stove until the mid-20th century and my aunt whose tiny frying pan could accommodate more crab cakes than I thought humanly possible. Both women were amazing cooks. And they cooked in tiny kitchens with little counter space and what most GW'ers would consider micro sinks. Dishwashers? My aunt and uncle said that the best part of a dinner party was when everyone went home and they did the washing up together.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 9:37PM
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Growing up we had a small and dysfunctional kitchen, but I don't think we knew it. My mom is 80 and still prepares (in a newer slightly more functional kitchen) the most amazing meals. She's actually gotten more creative and experimental over the years. I love buying her cookware for birthdays and holidays.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 10:15PM
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Mine is 7' wide - I have cabinets on both sides, but the cabinet-only side has reduced depth base cabinets (19"). I didn't feel I had room to put even a counter-depth fridge there unless I was willing to have a very narrow center aisle.

What did you do in your kitchen, Beccamj? How is everything laid out?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 11:28PM
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Oops, it's actually six and a half feet - still pretty narrow. The cabs on one side are 23" but that's actually because of a cut-out in the back left corner where I didn't want the cabs sticking out past it.

Basically, it's a semi-galley because there's a sink at one end rather than a window. So, starting on the left of the U, it's fridge (a CD Summit - it sticks out about a half inch), then a cabinet, then an 18" DW. The bottom of the U is the sink and it's a blind base. Then on the right side is a full-size oven (I used to have a 20" but I'm a big baker and a 30" was a must), then cabinets down through what was once a wall and ending in a buffet in the DR.

In the "before" kitchen, the narrowness was exacerbated by a wall being where those cabs on the left are. I removed a closet on the other side to put those in (there are uppers too, you just can't see them in that pic). Either way, it's definitely a romantic place for two to cook together. ;-)

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 12:02AM
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Amen! some of the best meals I ever made (and ate) were prepared in my husband's (then fiance's) miniscule kitchen that had two burners, no DW, and barely enough room to move around (it was 4 X 6.. super tiny).

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 7:59AM
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danielle, you just made me think of another advantage of small kitchens...they're more romantic...you're always bumping into each other...

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 8:39AM
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marthavila-- 20 years, huh? There' hope for me yet! I'm only at 13 or 14, but can't see it happening in the future any time soon. I also really enjoyed the article; thanks, janran, for posting it.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 10:37AM
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Yes, they're super great for promoting bumping and fondling. Water fights too, as I recall when we both wanted at the sink. Great article, Janran, fun to read, and hopefully good for some sanity-provoking before it scrolls off.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 10:59AM
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Thanks for posting that, we've been cooking on a crummy electric burner and using a convection/micro for all our cooking in our cabin for years, now that we're living here full time my husband has taken up cooking and he's making some of the most delicious meals I've ever had.

It did get me to thinking that we could have forgone buying the expensive range and use portable electric burners that we put in a drawer when we were through cooking, which is what we do now and I love it!

After having 'normal' kitchens for years, I'm loving our cozy cabin kitchen. DH thinks it will change when our new kitchen is put in. I hope not.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 11:07AM
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Beccamj, your kitchen is adorable! I can't believe how much functionality your squeezed in there - and it looks great!

Plus I love the idea of it being more romantic. We tiny kitchen gals sure know how to spin it! LOL!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 11:34AM
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He is my absolute favorite chef! His cooking techniques (minimalist) and his ideas about kitchens remind us to decide between what we NEED and what we WANT- when is enough, enough.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 3:50PM
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Thanks, Charlikin! Manhattan people think I'm nuts to give up closet space for kitchen space, but it was worth it. I'll post more pix in a week or so when it's done (God, I hope).

And yeah, gotta look at the bright side!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 4:13PM
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I would'a done it. Certainly I would have happily given up closet space to recess my fridge a little, or to move it to the other side of the kitchen so I could have had a full-size dishwasher (and thus had a better selection of d/w's than what's available in 18").

Didn't have the option. Considered stealing space from my next door neighbor, but I don't really know her that well...

Can't wait to see your finished pics! (Heck, can't wait to see *my* finished pics!) Though, of course, that's a challenge too - hard to take photos in such a small place! LOL!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 4:49PM
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"Didn't have the option. Considered stealing space from my next door neighbor, but I don't really know her that well..."

LOL! The apartment next door has been empty for months - I should have thought of that!

Likewise - I love seeing what other galley folks are doing. And yes, getting the pix has me practically standing on my head sometimes!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 6:01PM
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I always thought I had a large kitchen (11x11) until I discovered this forum. In our neighbourhood of older character homes, the kitchens are all miniscule - no matter the size of the house.

A bit off topic, but has anyone been watching the show on PBS sunday afternoons with Mark Bittman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mario Batali and a lovely woman named Claudia something? They travel thru Spain eating, seeing the sights and interviewing the most amazing assortment of people.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 6:10PM
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Funnily enough (is that an expression?) my DH brought up that article over the dinner table tonight and we agreed that experience makes the cook- not the equipment. That said, why did I just build a big new kitchen?!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 6:49PM
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>>why did I just build a big new kitchen?!Because you could? Heck, I would too!

When we were remodeling our cottage in 1989/90, I agonized over whether to add 4' to the kitchen instead of just 2'. I finally chose not to, and now I'm sorry I didn't do it! But although it's easy to forget, big kitchens were not 'in vogue' at the time, and I didn't want the main floorplan to be too disproportional, since it's pretty small overall.

But my 13x14' kitchen feels pretty big compared to our former 6x8' "black hole" apartment kitchen, LOL! But come to think of it, I do still miss that solid old O'Keefe & Merritt gas range that was there...a lot of good meals were made on those modest 9K burners.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 2:56PM
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budge1 - I've seen a couple of episodes of that show (Spain..on the Road Again) also. It's really neat. I especially enjoyed watching the Spanish "zen master" (Mario Batali's term) make paella.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 5:31PM
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Mark Bittman's cookbook "How to Cook Everything" is my kitchen bible. I taught myself how to cook in my tiny studio apartment kitchen with my old caloric stove and the food tasted just as good as it does now with a newly renovated kitchen. My Italian grandmother lived in a NYC apartment with a tiny kitchen and she made the best food ever! When my hubby and I visit his grandmother in Italy- the food is like nothing you have ever tasted and her kitchen is smaller than my linen closet- probably the tiniest I've ever seen-LOL I know quite a few people with brand new state of the art kitchens that can't even boil water. Thanks for the article- I really enjoyed it.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 6:32PM
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My husband and I took things to some friends' apartment once to cook for them in what I would call almost a half of a galley kitchen. I've seen RVs and boats with more kitchen space! It was about 4' X maybe 6': tiny stove, small single sink, frig that I could see the top of (I'm almost 5'3") and a wee bit of counter somewhere between.

We cooked dinner together and our friends hung around outside the door to visit.

I think that's the biggest reason that I want a big kitchen--it seems like the best place to visit, and I love cooking things with MANY cooks, not just two. My 3 sisters and I and a friend and our total of 5 children have an annual event of cooking together for an entire weekend in the friend's big fabulous kitchen. So far the youngest 2 kids haven't participated in the cooking because they were only 18 mo. at the last gathering. They're helping out at home now tho, so next time we get together they'll probably be in the thick of it.

A little kitchen can work great especially if it's well organized. A big kitchen can be terrible if it's not well organized. But the one thing only a big kitchen can do is allow a lot of people in. That's not any judgement on anyone else's kitchen. The only time I judge people is when they do things just to look good and not to fit their lifestyle and/or budget.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2009 at 11:19PM
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I must be missing something here, but why would anyone be surprised that you could cook well in a small kitchen vs. a huge one? I don't think the SPACE has anything to do with it!

Whenever I see those huge $100,000 remodels on TV, I always think, I bet no one there actually cooks. Then you have the husband or wife chopping celery, and they're so clumsy at it, you just know the kitchen is more SHOWROOM than workroom!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 9:24PM
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Once I read an article in Bon Appetit on Dorie Greenspan's NY Kitchen and how small it is and that when she has dinner parties she plates all of her food before it is served. If she can put out that great food to NY foodies in a teeny tiny kitchen then I have nothing to complain about.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 10:13PM
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