Chapter 29: The Compromise of a Temp Kitchen

April 4, 2009 • Written by Christina Berry

If you’ve been following our story, then you know that our kitchen situation has evolved very, very slowly. First our kitchen consisted of eating Taco Bell on the porch. Then we made big strides toward good nutrition with the purchase of a mini fridge to go with our very old mini microwave.

Next came the hot plate. Wow, hello spaghetti, how I’ve missed you. Also, we got a slightly larger and newer microwave.

Next, Errek’s mom came to visit from Delaware and while here decided that our fridge was far too small, so she got us a big one. She also got us a stove.

Sadly, with our current 100AMP electrical service, we don’t have enough electrical circuits to run the stove, so my parent’s got us a toaster oven that is big enough to hold a pizza. Now our brand new oven serves as a very handy microwave and toaster oven holder. Someday soon, we’ll have the electrical juice for it all.

Note in the above photo the utility sink which sits disconnected — a plastic sculpture symbolizing the evolution of man to the use of indoor plumbing. Well, it was a huge step when Errek hooked that thing up. Finally, we didn’t have to do our dishes in the bathroom sink anymore.

Planning ahead, Errek drilled through our temporary back wall so that we weren’t plumbing into any permanent walls or the floor. He also used an air admittance valve (visible in the photo above), so that we wouldn’t need to vent through the roof. Excellent temp plumbing, right? My guy is so freakin’ handy with both the wrench and the forethought.

So that remained our setup for quite some time — a full-sized fridge, two very old bookcases for a pantry, an unplugged stove which held up our microwave and toaster oven, a utility sink, and a folding table which held our dish drainer, hot plate and griddle.

We’re talking first-rate high-class kitchen design here. And while it wasn’t shiny and neat, it functioned well for almost a year.

Well, actually, it sucked. We were always running out of space. Also, most of our appliances were on a single circuit, so we would occasionally trip a breaker when cooking a big meal. That sucked, because the lights would go out too. So we’d be boiling water, grilling, and toasting, and then bam — darkness. Yeah, sucked. But our plans for the greatest kitchen ever are expensive and very long-term, so we suffer through it.

Problem was we suck at washing dishes. It’s our least favorite chore. Errek joked for a while that we’d probably have a dishwasher before we had a stove. Well, I guess that idea grew fruit, because one day we just snapped and hooray… Say hello to our little friend.

Yep, we started to do the math. When we say our kitchen plans are expensive and long-term, what we mean is it could be 3-5 years before we have a kitchen…3-5 YEARS!?!?! Are you kidding me? Our setup was a 6-12 month setup max! Any longer than that and we’d need to step it up a notch or else lose our minds. So we did some more math and determined that we could upgrade our kitchen setup exponentially for $800. So I ask you, if what stood between you and relative comfort was $800, would you spend it? Well, we did.

So there you have it. We got our dishwasher, and we got some cabinets and counters to go with it.

First, we needed something to replace our folding table. It had served its purpose gallantly, but we were tired of it, plus it provided no storage space. So we got two low cabinets for the storage.

Errek screwed them together, and we flipped the right door around, so that the doors would open facing one another for convenience.

Then we attached the counter top and there you have it, a surface and storage — what more could we ask for?

Well, we found something else to ask for — a wall to back up to our cabinet. So we made one. We decided to keep the area beside the two cabinets (where they line up with the sink) open because you never know when a handy cubby will come in…well…handy. As a result, the wall looked disturbing similar to my home state of Oklahoma.

Also, Errek used this handy wall to wire up an outlet. We were never going to use power strips in our kitchen ever again and also, no more tripped breakers. The outlet is located near Ponca City on our Oklahoma wall.

Next we covered our shiny new surface with the entire contents of our pantry (aka bookcases).

After moving the crappy old bookcases to retirement in the yard we installed a tall cabinet to replace them. Neat! Actually, that is the perfect word for it — neat. No more open faced pantry full of clutter. Now everything was behind pale unfinished cabinet doors. Loving it.

So now we had storage and one surface, but we still had a bunch of appliances with no home. Time for surface number two. This one would be higher and stick out further (it had to fit over the stove and in front of the plumbing. So Errek built a tall frame with room in the back for electrical outlets.

Sweet! It’s starting to look more like a kitchen and less like a camp site.

So it’s done. One counter holds the microwave, toaster, toaster oven, hot plate, and griddle. Under the counter we have our dishwasher and trash/recycling cans. Beside it are our lovely pantry and fridge.

The other surface was for food prep and just to have an empty surface (something in short supply at PVR).

It’s been a life saver, this temp kitchen of ours. However, it was a difficult job, emotionally. We hate the idea of compromise, not when it comes to our dreamhouse. We sort of enjoy focusing all of our energy on that far off plan — it’s way more creative and fun than settling for pre-fab, off-the-shelf Home Depot kitchen counters and cabinets. But, when the dream house is far off and the right-now kitchen is almost unlivable, $800 is a small price to pay for a pretty decent space.

Someday (3-5 years from now) we’re going to have that dream kitchen with a Wolf stove and a Sub-Zero fridge. That’s right, someday we won’t have to settle for temp. It’ll be nothing but perm, as far as the eye can see. But in the meantime, are you hungry for some breakfast tacos? Because I’ve got just the place to cook them.