Simple (and small) Living vol. 4

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Welcome Sarah again this week – as she shares about her Small Kitchen and her Big Table…

Today I’m going to write about my kitchen, but first I have to tell you about my dining room table.

We started our married life without a dining room table. We had a “table” which now is a desk, so that should give you an idea of its size. Early in our marriage, when we wanted to have more than two people to dinner, we drove to the high school where I taught, loaded up a folding table, drove it to our house, and hauled the table in. I spent time daydreaming about having a large, sturdy farm table that could seat a lot of people.  After a few years, a generous friend gave us a hand-me-down dining table that wasn’t my style, but it was functional.

Eventually, I found just the table – the very one I’m sitting at as I write – in a junky resale furniture store. It was sturdy solid wood, and it was large. It comfortably seats ten (I can fit twelve around it when four or more are children). My first thought when we decided to build our small home was that I’d have to get rid of my big table. Instead, my husband opened up the design program on his computer and pulled up our floor plan. We measured the table, and we manipulated a few lines and created a mockup of our table, and he placed it right there in our small home.

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Not only did it fit, but you could walk around three sides of it with generous amounts of space. I suppose we sacrificed a few cabinets, but it was worth it to me have this table which has become a symbol to me of God’s blessings of family, food, and fellowship. In many ways, it is the heart of our home. We use our table not only for meals, but it also serves as my desk and the kids homework space – and we prepare food there as well.

A generously sized table must be accompanied by a kitchen that can accommodate the cooking of appropriately sized meals – for our family and for guests. Even though my home is small, we designed it with hospitality in mind. Thus began the next challenge. We had to live in our space for nearly a year before I got the kitchen to a place where it felt right. When we first moved into our home, I packed in all that I thought I would need. But within a few months, I had cleared out much of it.

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I’m always trying to make do with less in my kitchen – or add more in areas where we need it. For example, I recently realized that it would not take up any extra space to buy more plates – they would simply stack on top of what we already had in our cupboard and would give us more flexibility in feeding people in our home. So I added more dining plates and salad plates to my stacks. But when I realized that I had somehow accumulated two ice cream scoops, one went promptly into the giveaway pile.


And this brings me to my two take-aways for this week:

Keep one.

You’d be surprised how many duplicates you have in your kitchen. Most of these never get used. If you regularly use one of something, have just one. Most of us hang onto multiples in anticipation for the few times a year (or decade) when we need the extras. Consider borrowing from your neighbor when this happens, or keep your extras on a shelf in the garage. I had multiples of glass pyrex baking dishes in various sizes. I now keep just one of each size in my kitchen, one pyrex 9×13, an 8×8, and a bread pan. I have pie plates, a springform pan, and a bundt pan all in my garage.


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Nest when possible.

Some people bake a lot of pies or make homemade bread for their families each week. Buy pans that nest well so that you can keep them stacked inside one another. My personal go-to cooking pan is a jelly roll pan. Three jelly roll pans of exactly the same make and model don’t nest, but I was able to locate three different ones and each is slightly smaller than the other, so they nest perfectly.  I use them to bake pizza, roast vegetables and meat, and bake cakes and cookies. I keep them nested in the bottom drawer of my range. A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a set of 12 silicone muffin cups. I was delighted to find that I could discard my bulky muffin tins and these twelve little cups could nest together in my utensil drawer. Even when I’m making three dozen muffins, I can quickly pop the hot muffin out on the plate, refill and bake.

I look forward to next week, when I’ll share with you five more kitchen simplification take-aways that you can put to practice in your own kitchen right away!

Simple (and small) Living Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4 | Volume 5


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