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Kitchen Challenge Part 1: Rehabbing an Insufferable Kitchen for an Inspired Chef!

I'm coming up on the year anniversary of the move to my new house. This time last year, my husband and I were frantically packing in preparation to move a few blocks away to our hundred-year-old Chicago brick two-flat. The first year has been a flurry of renovations, reworking and revitalizing of this gorgeous, historically intact property. Roof work, tuck-pointing, acid-washing, painting, polishing, staining and stripping have left the house in fantastic condition except for one last project--the kitchen.

Unlike the rest of the house, the kitchen suffered from a few previous renovation projects. At some point, the original pantry was removed to make space for a refrigerator. Fortunately, the original built-in was left in place lending charm and extra storage to a tight kitchen space. The rest of the kitchen, however, is a wash with too little counter space, cheap countertops, dated cabinets, no room for a dishwasher and a lack of functionality for someone who loves to cook as much as I do. So, a couple weeks ago, I embarked on the start of a kitchen renovation!

Squad Goals: More Counter Space and a Dishwasher

My main goal for this kitchen redo is to create a more usable and expansive workspace out of what is essentially a small kitchen by maximizing the counter space. Currently, the counter consists of a foot-and-a-half on either side of the sink plus a small table that holds a 2'x3' cutting board. That's it for rolling out dough, slicing up meats, chopping veggies and plating up dishes. It's a nightmare that has led to broken platters, dropped chickens and infinite tomatoes that slip onto the floor alongside my tears!

The other must is a dishwasher. My husband and I lived for years with a dishwasher, then for years without one, then for a year again with one and, once again this past year, back to a life without one. What we both know for certain, is that in our family, having a dishwasher eliminates 95% of our we had to get a dishwasher into the space. BUT FIRST...THE FRIDGE.


Problem Numero Uno: No Space for A Refrigerator

The first problem to solve was refrigerator space. In dealing with a small kitchen with doors on three walls, finding a spot for a refrigerator is a serious challenge. My first thought turned to refrigerator and freezer drawers. These technological wonders are pricey but they pack up to 46 cu ft into two pull out drawers--a refrigerator drawer on top and a freezer drawer with ice maker on bottom.

As I looked into my current fridge, however, the truth became clear. I'm a Condiment Queen! My refrigerator door could rival any college student's or single dude's, containing at least forty bottles of assorted hot sauces, mustards, Jamaican Jerk rubs, chili pastes, ketchups and dressings. I need my condiments and I need a refrigerator door to store all of them.

So it was back to the drawing board with thoughts of putting a cute fridge, like the Smeg out on the back porch. I have always loved the bright colors and retro design of the Smeg, even though the construction is pretty cheap bordering on shoddy. I'm pretty sure any number of the thin and excessive internal plastic accessories would have snapped off within weeks of acquiring the fridge, but I was willing to risk it for the cuteness.

AND THEN IT HIT...WINTER! The temperature on the back porch plummeted along with my hopes of sticking a fridge out there.

Wandering around the Sub Zero showroom a few days later, inspiration hit in the shape of an Imposingly tall, but svelte, Sub Zero 30" Integrated Fridge/Freezer. It seemed to tick all of the boxes, except price. what the F$$$$CK ?!?! My husband always teases me about having no idea what things actually cost and, I admit, I tend to underestimate prices out of some naive belief that something like a fridge could not possibly cost that much money because who would pay that much for a cold box you shove food into? Apparently, I would.

The siren song of Sub Zero with its sleek lines, simple interior, air filtration food preservation system and promise of lasting for the next 20 years pulled me in, and I surrendered to the priciest item of the entire renovation. At almost $8000 this was a budget buster, but some poking around on Craigslist turned up a floor model, knocking $2000 off the prices of the fridge. SCORE!!!


UP NEXT: Choosing a Stove!

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