Ugh, I had a horrible time yesterday. It started out great. I caught up with some friends over coffee, but when I got home I realised I had left my keys in the house and had locked myself out!
No one was home so I had to call a locksmith to let me back in. It was very embarrassing.
Instead of sitting out the front of my home I ended up going over to visit our neighbour Annette while I waiting for the locksmith to arrive. After I embarrassingly told her of my ordeal, she invited me in for a cup of tea.
Annette is a renter. As we sat in her kitchen she was obviously self-conscious and started criticising her “less than ideal kitchen”. Annette and her husband tend to move about a lot with her husband’s business, so they tend to rent instead of buying. I don’t know how she does it. Because she rents, she is unable to change her home to what she wants.
As we started talking to her about renting (I’ve never rented), we got onto the topic of her biggest frustrations with her rental’s kitchens. She had some horror stories that completely shocked me.
Ugly Old Cabinets
This was something she had to deal with almost every rental she has been in. Often the kitchens have old wooden cabinets. Rich walnut to older honey oak, they all seem very bland and an eye sore. The worst, Annette says, was a dark cherry kitchen.
Draws That Don’t Open Or Close Properly
There is nothing worse than draws that stick or are wonky. Either you have to yank them out (at the risk of pulling a shoulder) or whack them back into place with your hip. Annette tells me that she had draws so bad that they use to fall off the runners. Utensils spilling on the floor seemed like a daily occurrence. To solve this problem, and minimise her frustrations she ended up moving most of her utensils and cooking tools to the counter and other areas easy to access.
As I talk to Annette, I start to realise how savvy she is. She has a good eye and would often find some pretty utensil holders. In her current kitchen, I can see that she has bought a magnetic knife rack which actually doesn’t look too bad.
Cabinet Doors That Don’t Hang Correctly
In her younger years, she lived in a couple of apartments that had badly constructed or uneven cabinet doors. Many old cabinet doors never closed properly. In one case it was so bad she ended up taking off the doors and turning the cabinets into open shelves. She put the doors back on when they left.
I’m not a fan of open shelving. If it is not neatly organised (mine is not), it looks really bad.
I could just imagine how ugly it looked, but having to deal with crappy doors all the time would drive me insane.
Terrible Kitchen Lighting
When I’m in my kitchen I like to see what I am cutting. Annette tells me about the many kitchens she has had with horrible lighting. Many just needed better light bulbs. In the worst case, she ended up getting a table top lamp for her kitchen!
When she lived in one particular small apartment, she placed cheap dressing room mirrors, both long and narrow, to the back wall of the counter, blow the cabinets. They weren’t custom, but it resulted in lots more light on that side of the dark kitchen. I was honestly impressed by her ingenuity at this point.
Ugly Table Tops
Cheap laminate countertops, I wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole. Cheap, chipped and damaged wooden trimming, Annettes had them all. It makes you cringe. When she is forced to live in these conditions she has treated herself with a well made and beautiful wooden cutting board and a pretty tray or two to divert attention away from the crap countertop underneath.
No Countertop Space
Having no space in the kitchen would drive me up the wall. Many older kitchens are badly designed. You have no area for meal preparation and serving. In these cases, Annette would often use an integrated cutting board that fit over their sink. She tells me of one horrible time in her college years where she would have the plates ready for prep on her ironing board!
No Space For A Kitchen Table
Annette found that a lot of inner-city apartments have little extra space for a kitchen table. Luckily it was just her and her husband so they had a small table that just fit the two of them. If they were entertaining friends, they would go to a local cafe, bar or restaurant instead.
Little To No Storage Space
Annette tells me, that at one stage they were living in a place that only had one cabinet that was supposed to fit all of her crockery, cutlery and cooking supplies. She ended up getting a bunch of stylish woven baskets for fruit and other things. She had some beautiful jars for cooking supplies that were on display on her counter. She would over find creative ways to hand pots and pans. In one case, she ended up getting a moveable wire rack to hold small appliances.
Ugly Little Details
Little things like an ugly floor or a horrible backsplash can make a huge difference to the vibe of your kitchen. Annette’s solution was to cover up anything you don’t like and display things that you like the look of. At one stage, she had some crummy floor tiles that started to peel up (I was mortified). She ended up covering the floor with an easy to clean mat. It was functional, looked good and made do while they waited for the landlord to fix up the tiles.
Disorganised Kitchen Layout
A fact with renting is that sometimes you get a kitchen where you really question what the designers were thinking. Dealing with a disorganised layout was a skill that Annette developed over time. She says she just changes what she can, and makes the most of what she can’t. Good advice in general.
I have a new respect for Annette and her husband. They are very resourceful with what they have. I will admit, when I got the call from the locksmith and he let me back into my house, I was very grateful for my own amazing kitchen.