A couple of years ago, we found ourselves in the uncomfortable situation of needing to rebuild a home from scratch-zero, zilch, nada… From the ground up, we needed to figure out every single detail. Under normal circumstances, I may have viewed a project like this as fun. Rebuilding after a total loss fire-not so much.
After we moved into our new home one of my favorite house warming gifts (given to me by a close friend who knows me quite well) was a pair of adorable kitchen hand towels that say, “My Kitchen is for Dancing” and “I Only Have A Kitchen Because It Came With the House”.
So how come I to be singing the praises of such a thing as a ‘prep kitchen’??? Hear me out.
As a general rule, I don’t particularly care to cook. However, I love to have people over to visit and basic hospitality requires feeding friends if they stay for any length of time. Hence, loving people visiting=cooking.
Our cozy cabin in the woods (pre-fire) sported an efficient 11’ x 11’ kitchen. It was really quite effective and if it had a pair of saloon doors across the entry, it could have almost been a prep kitchen on its own. Silly me, I didn’t even know what a prep kitchen was in those days.
As in many homes, our old dining room and kitchen were side by side and it seemed to me that nothing ruined the effect of a beautifully set table, as the background view of the kitchen mess created during the preparations of the edible portions of the event.
Although I had developed quite efficient habits of washing and cleaning as I went, invariably there would be some unsightly clutter lingering in the kitchen in spite of my best efforts.
During a visit to a friend’s Open House I discovered the prep kitchen. Having also lost their home in the Black Forest Fire of 2013, a local builder/designer team, All About Home, had taken the challenge to rebuild their home for whatever the insurance settlement was and they made it into the multiple award winning Field of Dreams, for the 2014 Colorado Springs Parade of Homes. Somehow, I had missed those details of their story but had gone to the open house and toured their new home. All of it was lovely and exactly reflected the French country charm which embodies my friend. But one element in particular stood out to me as being an innovative, practical, and a ‘really should have if at all possible’ feature: the prep kitchen.
Check it out, what is not to love!
The window over the sink made this one perfect to me but really it was the general concept which struck me as genius.
Extra sink and additional counter top for food prep. Shelves and cabinets, bright lights, and cold storage. Honestly, this prep kitchen felt like most everything needed was right here-and when you walk out, the door closes behind you. Image having friends over and sitting down to dinner while the kitchen looks fantastic and your prep mess is hidden behind the door of your prep kitchen!
Our rebuild was in the framing stage at this point and the original plan did not include a prep kitchen. Fortunately, it did include a good size pantry which shared a wall with an oversized laundry room.
After stopping by the construction site to see if alterations looked possible, to my optimistic eye, it looked as though no supporting walls would be affected and only one vent would need to be moved. Our contractor confirmed my assessment and said the prep kitchen was a great change in the plan. Bless him! A contractor intent on a happy costumer is a huge bonus in life.
Our prep kitchen at approximate 7’6” X 5’6” ended up being perhaps a quarter of the size of the one in our friend’s house but – I LOVE IT!
The basic concept of a dedicated, organized pantry/work space, enabling the best possible entertainment experience and providing personal peace, is worth the additional square footage and expense it might require.
Since our prep kitchen is relatively small, the cost seemed rather reasonable. Kitchen cabinets were ordered from Lowe’s (to match the ones in the regular kitchen), left over bathroom tile was used for counter tops (after we discovered that a pre-cut counter would not fit through our sliding pocket pantry doorway), and the kitchen flooring simply extended into it as had been planned for the pantry. Cabinets, counters, sink (with disposal), and mini-fridge, are the main features of our prep kitchen. Besides groceries and other storeroom items, it conveniently stows other often used (but unsightly) kitchen appliances including a microwave, toaster, popcorn popper and more. A bread box and knife block stay on the counter and a shelf above the sink holds handy items and knick-knacks.
Our builder wisely advised us to install a large flush mount ceiling light fixture which provides plenty of illumination no matter where you are standing, and ensures clear visibility while you are working.
If you like your kitchen organized and beautiful, and your workspaces convenient and accessible, do yourself a favor and see if there might be room in your home for a prep kitchen!