Sunday, December 03, 2006

Welcome to My Kitchen

Lint In the Frypan

You’re going to have a problem in the kitchen, friend Julia said. There’s no place to put the washing machine.

When Julia says something like that I listen. Julia is a kitchen designer. It was a couple of weeks before the move into my new apartment. I had given Julia the keys to go over and look around.

Oh. . . Oh, of course, the washing machine.

Most apartments here in Russia were built back when most folks washed their clothes by hand in a basin. And in such Soviet-era apartments, finding a place for the washing machine can be a challenge.

But it was too late. A week earlier when I first walked into the living room and laid eyes on the wall of built-in bookshelves, I fell in love and shortly thereafter, proclaimed my serious interest in the place. And, as my realtor can attest, that’s quite different from my usual modus operandi. It was the 7th apartment we had looked at.

Let me think about this for a few days, was my typical response. But on this one, I was smitten from the start.

So okay. I had made a commitment before I thought much about the kitchen. And Julia was right, I had a problem. Next to solve it: I did a kitchen-to-scale mockup with various appliances and cabinets on bits of paper. Julia and I moved those around at length.

On paper, our plan was brilliant. In reality, it was back to the drawing. . .er, shuffle board.

The problem was: What else could be moved out? The kitchen table had already been voted out and into the living room. The gas stove had to stay. The sink had to stay. Seemed as though moving the washing machine was the only option. So we brainstormed. Someone suggested the washing machine in the entry wall – no problem if you don’t mind water hoses running above the floor. Another idea was to put it on the window sill – where it really would fit, space-wise. Or on the kitchen balcony? We kept running into dead ends.

Then handyman Nickolai suggested moving the refrigerator. Out into the entryway seemed logical because of closeness to the kitchen. But I was already set on putting a chest-height cabinet and mirror there, the place for launching from home to the street and back.

And then, voila! We hit on it. We realized that refrigerator could go just inside the living room. There’s an outlet there and the door between the entryway and living room could be easily removed. It works!

Back in the kitchen, a previous resident had strung space-saving laundry lines overhead, as is common and works with the high ceilings. That’s a great place for hanging smaller items. Imagine hanging laundry right over the stove. There are safety considerations with that, of course. But then again, there’s nothing quite like the texture of sautéed lint.