There is no doubt that a good portion of Southern life revolves around food and the kitchen. Stories are shared, tales are told, games are played, lessons are learned, food is crafted, and history is made in the kitchen. This wasn’t always the case though. In fact, historically, kitchens weren’t luxurious and certainly were not entire rooms meant for hosting guests or entertaining. They were dark. They were hot. They were loud. And they were even prone to catching fire. They were situated as far away as possible from the social or private rooms in a home.
LESSON OF THE DAY: While fear of fire may have influenced some builders and families one has to ask, “Were Southerners the only ones afraid of fires? Northerners didn’t seem to have separate kitchens. What gives?” Th actual reasons have more to do with the heat and odors from the kitchen fire, which in the south would have been bothersome and unwanted during most months of the year. And so it isn’t much different in today’s modern tiny house.
With square footage often topping out at no more than 300 sq.ft. or so large, expansive kitchens aren’t welcome for a number of reasons including space assignment, odor, unwanted heat, etc. But does that mean that if a tiny house family love their kitchen and lives a life evolving around the kitchen, they can’t have one? We didn’t think so!
Before building our 30′, single-level, THOW, we spent an enormous amount of waking time in our kitchen. Between Crystal cooking, our daughter (at that time) walking/falling/and generally toddling, and me talking up a storm or waiting anxiously for something to eat, we are as Southern as apple pie or fried chicken (pardon the obvious pun). So again, I ask. “Why should building a tiny house mean that same luxury can’t exist?” In fact, when planning our tiny house Crystal insisted that in order for our THOW to work she needed as close to a gourmet kitchen as possible. Creating new dishes and mastering traditional ones is her passion. All said and done 35% of our home was assigned to the kitchen and over 40% of our overall budget. This cost included custom cabinetry, exotic wood countertops, gourmet appliances, and task lighting. As a matter of fact we ended up with 11.5 linear feet of countertop alone. It held our convection toaster oven, coffee pot, coffee frother, knife block, and dry good storage containers. (shown below is a section of our finished countertop. Not the Suburban 2-burner propane stove.)
But how do you do this? How do you assign the space without feeling crowded and how do you do it all on a reasonable budget?
EXPLORE COUNTERTOP POSSIBILITIES. In regards to countertops ours were upcycled Malaysian hardwood. In fact, it was a type of butcher block in that it was about 6 species of Malaysian hardwood cut into strips and pressed together. The wood lived its first life as the flooring for an upscale, temperature controlled, cargo truck. From what I understand the truck carried two Rolls Royces for a private collector. Having a hard time imagining what I’m talking about? Have a look. In order to get the wood we had to submit our names to the trucking company and have our name put on a list. It took nearly seven months but we got beautiful material and ended up cutting it, planing it, using an organic epoxy to create countertop for the full depth of our cabinets, and then built a backsplash with the remaining cuts. We then used food-grade Salad Bowl finish to lock out bacteria and other gnarly things.
CONSIDER THE COST EFFECTIVENESS AND THE HAPPINESS FACTOR. Crystal is barely 5’2″. Standard countertops are 36″ high plus the 1″ countertop. That 37″ is more than 50% of her 62″. That makes for incredible discomfort, loss working space, and overall unhappiness. Because of those reasons plus our love of the kitchen we decided to look at custom cabinetry that included the height and look we felt would be best. We found a very talented woodworker and to save budget went with cabinets of heart pine in a shaker box style. In other words our cabinets were little more than plywood boxes. We wanted that because we had already chosen hardware and because of their style and size ultimately felt like they should be the focal point.
All said we had 5 base cabinets, a pull-out spice and pot lid “drawer”, 4 drawers, and a 6′ tall, standalone pantry with 4 glider shelves. We opted against upper cabinets and instead used some of the countertop material to make 4 open shelves. Perhaps the best feature though was the base cabinet that opened to be two oversized gliding shelves for pots, pans, and countertop appliances.
If you’ve read our eBook Gaining Corporate Sponsors for your tiny house you’re probably aware of our partnerships with a few major companies. They were instrumental in our build and allowed us to test and showcase some awesome products. One of those partnerships was with Rockler Woodworking and Hardware. Celebrating its 62nd anniversary as a family-run business, Rockler Woodworking and Hardware is the nation’s premier supplier of specialty hardware, tools, lumber and other high quality woodworking and DIY products. Their catalogue has been a fixture in my parents house for as long as I can remember and now their online newsletter is one in my inbox. They graciously sponsored our home with products we were intending to purchase anyway. Those were:
- 10 sets of Half Overlay Blum Clip Top Frameless Hinges
- 4 sets of 21” Tandem Blumotion Drawer Slides
- 5 sets of Blum Tandem No Profile 21” Full Ext. Slides
Talk about quality slides and hinges. They are heavy duty with a 100 pound capacity and an easy close rebound. The hinges almost disappear when installed and allow the door to just pillow closed. They were awesome as our daughter reached the stage she could open the drawers and then slam them. Much to her surprise she couldn’t slam them because of their pillow stops. A-MA-ZING!
GO BIG OR GO HOME. We were fans of full size appliances, furniture (where possible), and other things. One of those things is the kitchen sink. We simply couldn’t image what a family of 3 could accomplish with a “bar sink” or another form of compact sink. Instead we went for the gusto and found a very affordable composite sink in the Mont Blanc Waterbrook Drop-In Composite Granite in Desert Sand. It fit into our budget (much to our surprise), was easy to clean, and was 9″ deep with two sections! You may remember the photo we took the night we brought it home. Not only did it look very high end but the color matched our kitchen color theme quite well and ultimately weighed only 32 pounds!