Many condo units I saw seemed to assume that condo dwellers don’t cook! I even had one owner ask me if I cooked much, looking hopeful that I didn’t. If cooking is important to you, then you’ll want to pay special attention to the built-in kitchen and how you might improve it to make sure you have enough surfaces, storage and appliances to support the way you wish to live.
Storage and Surfaces
Adding an island, or two, is an easy way to augment both surfaces and storage if space allows. When choosing the island, consider whether you want to sit at the counter on bar stools (ideal if not for long periods), or a dining room table, which will require more space.
I selected these two sturdy islands from Ikea, and paired them with a small dining table. I didn’t find it in the dining section though. The dining tables had a wider profile and would have taken too much space so I headed over to the office section. I found this desk which is 2’ x 5’ (60 x 150 cm) and fits snugly up to the islands permitting two to dine at any time. If having guests, I simply wheel the islands over to the window and pull up two more dining chairs. Voila, pretty dining for four.
I kept open access on one side of the islands, and decided to create covers for the sides exposed to the living area. Kitchen items, while necessary, and definitely not clutter, are visually busy and would be distracting. The covers were sewn from an extra set of curtains (Homesense) and stuck in place with Velcro® tape.
Limited drawers also restrict the volume of what you can keep, so I looked for products which are specially designed to save space. Joseph Joseph are masters of creativity in the kitchen. In this picture see if you can find a can opener (yes, that little round green circle is all you need!), a grater which has a built in cover and has a handle which twists into place for comfy grating, a whisk which also twist to lie flat ensuring it doesn’t catch when opening and closing a drawer, and the sleekest scissors!
There is no reason that you can’t expect the best from your major appliances in a condo. When choosing a fridge there are four important things to consider:
a) Capacity – how much can you store?
b) Visibility – how much can you see?
c) Flexibility – how can you adjust the space to suit your needs?
d) Convenience – how easy is to accomplish what I need to do?
The award-winning Whirlpool Smart French Door refigerator meets all these criteria.
Capacity – The Smart French Door fridge has a whopping 30% more capacity than other french door fridges. Not only can it hold more, smart design features such as asymmetrical crispers allow you to fit longer items like celery and kale easily on one side keeping the other side for smaller items that might otherwise get lost.
Visibility is unparalleled through the use of LED lighting throughout (no dark places!), and innovations like stadium shelving in the door compartments which raise items in the back.
Flexibility is prominent in two features:
a) Infinity shelves – a shelf that slides in to accommodate taller items like a re-corked wine bottle or pitcher. The infinity shelf is surrounded by a shelf designed to hold typical grocery sizes that stays in place, keeping things in sight. (picture below)
b) Shelf flippers – ideal when you only need a little bit more room, shelves can be popped into place without having to remove items from the shelf. Quick and easy!
Convenience is delivered through the above features plus a finger-print free, easy to clean stainless steel finish, and the ability to make double the ice when you’re entertaining!
With limited storage and counter space you also have to be selective about your small appliances. I have three small appliances at the moment – a blender, a kettle and new to me, a FoodSaver* vacuum sealer. The FoodSaver unit is 24″ x 12″ x 6” (60cm x 30 cm x 15 cm) and with space being so limited it has to deliver incredible value to earn its place.
Here’s what the FoodSaver does and why I decided to allocate it precious space:
- When vacuuming food in its freezer-to-boiling-water food safe bags, food freshness is extended by on average 5 times. So what does this do for me? It allows me to shop in bulk when meats and vegetables are either on sale or at their peak of freshness. This translates into valuable savings.
- Vacuuming shrinks the space required. By removing air from packages, the damaging oxygen is taken out keeping food fresher. The byproduct is a smaller package! This translates to being able to store more in the freezer. I can accommodate batches of food so I have meals at the ready to defrost. A necessity on a busy day or when you’re not feeling up to cooking.
TIP – Freeze food into straight edged containers before vacuum sealing. This gives you frozen blocks to work with which can be stored visibly and packed more efficiently.
- New to the FoodSaver product line are ultra clear and strong Tritan® containers. These stackable containers work with the accessory setting to allow the removal of air resulting in doubling how long food stays fresh. I’ve used them with success for hard cheeses (soft cheese bacteria are anaerobic so are not ideal for vacuum sealing), and for grapes to keep them plump and crisp for days. They are also perfect if you’ve got leftovers but won’t be around to eat them for a few days.
- There are accessory tools for wine bottles (yay for keeping wine fresh longer!) and mason jars. I no longer feel like I’m wasting a bottle of white wine by opening it and having only one glass
*I was sponsored and/or provided product by Whirlpool, FoodSaver, Ikea, Homesense and Joseph Joseph (distributed in Canada by Danesco). All opinions are my own after testing and working with the product.