A Complete Kitchen for Christmas

December 28, 2016

It has been a long time since my last post. We have been working on the kitchen and I was bound and determined that I would not post any pictures until the kitchen was 100% complete. Our goal was to have it finished by Christmas. And we almost made it, only a couple days late. At long last, the kitchen is complete and it was worth the wait.


The kitchen has been a work in progress since I retired two years ago, in January 2015. The journey has been amazing. Below is the layout of the kitchen.

kitchen layout

a15_Oct 25, 2014_stove completeAt first, I had the basics. The wood stove , a Kitchen Queen 480, was the first thing installed, providing us with a cookstove, hot water and heat for the house.







Temporary kitchen setup January 2015

Temporary kitchen setup January 2015

Next Ken built me a temporary kitchen with shelving to store all my kitchen stuff, an island work area and a sink wash station. At first the sink had no plumbing. We used snow melted on the wood stove and two five gallon pails under the sink to collect the dirty water. Chop wood, haul water were our daily tasks. I remember how wonderful it was to have this temporary setup, however primitive it might seem. In the picture on the left, we did not even have electric lights yet, if you notice the candle chandelier hanging above the island. The open doorway on the right is the future pantry.

Once the pantry was complete, we were able to move our fridge into the house. The fridge is housed in the pantry. The pantry serves double duty. It holds all my dry goods and by opening the window in it we can turn it into a cold room in the winter so that fridge does not need to run much.

Once the plumbing was hooked up to the sink and lighting installed, I had everything I needed – hot and cold running water, drains and no more slop pails to empty, a wonderful stove and a fridge. What more could a girl want? 

New Stove Hearth Completed

New Stove Hearth Completed

In May 2016, we removed the Kitchen Queen woodstove and redid the flooring under it, changing from black granite to a cream colored porcelain tile that does not show the dust and dirt.









kitchen after floor

Slowly more and more cupboards, drawers and finishing touches have been added.

The cork flooring, installed this summer, made a huge difference in the look of the kitchen. Bye bye plywood floors. The cork is warm and cushiony on the feet and easy to keep.

The last couple months have been consumed with kitchen construction.  Everything was made from scratch. The doors and drawer fronts were made from rough cut birch that Ken planed and fashioned.  He has become quite a drawer expert, with 24 drawers in the kitchen. The drawers were made from birch plywood and are designed to handle a heavy load. In addition to the mountain of drawers, the kitchen had 13 cupboard doors to be made as well.

Kitchen cupboards complete

Kitchen cupboards complete, just finishing touches left

In the last couple of weeks I have been having fun unpacking my kitchen stuff that has been in storage since we moved out of our home in Winnipeg. I have room for everything in my new kitchen, and even have one drawer left empty – for now. It’s amazing to have all this storage space.






Kitchen highlights:


Island drawers

Island drawers

The island has a beautiful birch butcher block top and nine large drawers for storage. And on the other side, the butcher block top overhangs a foot to create a seating area.








photo by James Deng

photo by James Deng

Above the island hangs my pots and pans.







dec-28-2016_north-walldec-28-2016_sink-shelfI love the shelves along the window and the ledge along the top of the cupboards. A perfect place to display some of my Mom’s platter collection.



dec-28-2016_larder-opendec-28-2016_larderThe pull out larder is a great storage space. Its a Lee Valley model that we were lucky enough to pick up on Kijiji for a song. I love the handle Ken made for the door. He scoured the bushes looking for the perfect branch. Mother Nature’s artwork.dec-28-2016_larder-handle









dec-28-2016_baking-sheet-cupboardKen made good use of a narrow cupboard space by creating the perfect vertical storage space for my baking sheets, trays, muffin tins and rolling pins.






dec-28-2016_cutlery-drawerI have the most fabulous cutlery drawer, with 9 cubbies for cutlery and serving utensils.





dec-28-2016_broom-storageAfter designing the kitchen we realized we had no spot for a broom closet. Since I don’t have need for a whole cupboard for cleaning supplies (I use Shaklee’s Basic H for all my cleaning), we decided to make use of the small space beside the back door. My nice red broom and mops are hung on the wall, and the rest of my cleaning supplies go under the kitchen sink.




dec-28-2016_spice-drawersI use two of the drawers for my spices, and yes, I have a lot of them, 62 to be exact. All organized alphabetically and easy to access.

It’s been a long slow process, two years from start to finish, to complete the kitchen. But it is definitely the kitchen of my dreams. A place for everything and everything in its place. Lots of counter space and everything easily accessible. And an island seating area so everyone can gather round in the kitchen to work or chat by the fire.

We may have missed our December 25 deadline, but it is 100% complete by Ukrainian Christmas (January 7).



About Darlene & Ken

Experiencing life off the grid, building a home, and trying to live sustainably.
This entry was posted in Construction, Kitchen and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Complete Kitchen for Christmas

  1. Ed and Sylvia Pastershank says:

    Oh my you 2 are hero’s , we would like to visit you this coming summer .

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