HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Do you have to "like" your kitchen in order to be inspired to cook?

I'm temporarily living in one of my rental properties due to "circumstances". The kitchen here is cramped, and outdated. I left a beautiful kitchen that I painstakingly designed myself to this space. One saving grace is that I transported my Wolf range from my main residence to here (not an easy feat). When called upon I can produce very nice meals (I'm a chef by trade) but because I dislike my surroundings it's not enjoyable. Would this effect your psyche too?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. One's surroundings can affect your mood. My kitchen is in need of a total makeover, but the view out the window is great, and when I compare it to those folks that are living in a shelter or a tent (not by their choice), I feel quite blessed. When I am feeling like I don't have a beautiful "enough" home or kitchen, I just put myself on a world scale, not the scale of friends or relatives.
    Maybe a fresh coat of paint will help. Maybe the "circumstance" has affected your feelings?

    3 Replies
    1. re: wyogal

      Wyogal, you have great attitude. :-)

        1. You're spoiled. It's cramped and outdated but was good enough for your renters. It's cramped and outdated but you have a wolf range.

          A tiny kitchen or no counter space is definitely a challenge, but the most important thing to me is the range, I don't really care how old the fridge is as long as its cold or how beautiful the surfaces are as long as they are clean. Sounds like you miss your old kitchen and maybe resent the circumstances that took you away from it? Adjustment is hard, but you will pull through.

          Wyogal is right, a can of paint can really help, is cheap, and gives you the satisfaction of a relatively quick and easy transformation. With less space you may have to cook simpler meals, but you can still focus on really great ingredients or nice winter soups and braises and baking that let you use that Wolf as much as possible. Good luck.

          1. Well, frankly, since you asked, I'm going in the "spoiled" column. I've cooked in grand kitchens and those that are not so grand. In fact, the kitchen in my house is probably the worst room in the place. Like yours, it's small and pretty out of date. Nevertheless, the ingredients and tools I use are what's important to me and therefore the sources of inspiration and pleasure. As suggested, maybe a step back, deep breath, and acknowledgment of what you do have (that stove for example) would help.

            1. I have cooked in great kitchens and terrible kitchens--some with terrible equipment to boot. Sure it can be more difficult, but I'm kind of a pollyanna about things so I would just live with the circumstances and make the best of it. Life is imperfect.

              1. I'm with the posters who think it might be the entire circumstance in which you find yourself that's coloring your attitude toward cooking in your temporary kitchen. I think with a change of perspective, you could find some different satisfaction in producing extraordinary food in a less than extraordinary kitchen. :)

                1. Some of my better meals have come from my imperfect kitchens that I have had. I was more inspired to overcome my surroundings and create something great from nothing. A few of the most creative were when I didn't even have a kitchen and had to work on top of the washer and dryer when my current kitchen was being redone.

                  I am hoping though that you take this experience and use it later to change the kitchens you are renting out. If you are miserable it's difficult to believe that your tenants aren't as well.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Allice98

                    In fairness to the OP, it's possible that the rental kitchen is perfectly fine by most peoples' standards. It's very possible he/she just has extraordinarily high expectations when it comes to their kitchen.

                    I've had rentals before, and I wouldn't fault any landlord for maintaining them at a lower standard than their own home. This is not to say anyone should be a slumlord, but renters by and large do not care for their rental homes as though they own them.

                    1. re: inaplasticcup

                      No reason it can't be made comfy, happy, and workable =)

                      I think that all landlords should spend some time in their rentals just to get a feel for what might need a bit of tweaking. Everyone has different needs, I know, but if you aren't happy chances are the tenant won't be happy either.

                      1. re: Allice98

                        I couldn't agree more, but I also don't think a Wolf range is necessary in a rental. I just don't want to make the assumption that the OP has created a less than liveable (sp?) environment for his/her tenant. :)

                      2. re: inaplasticcup

                        Excellent point, ina. It's also worth noting that many familes (whether they rent or own their homes) use the kitchen on a much less limited basis than CH'ers do. Many people are happy to have a working refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher and don't use their stoves or ovens much so high quality equipment would be a complete waste.

                    2. I don't believe you have to "like" your kitchen to be inspired. to cook.

                      To me, the inspiration lies with the produce, ingredients, and the challenge to make them work, regardless of the environment. I enjoy standing there, rubbing my chin, contemplating how I'm going to make something work...then making it happen. If it doesn't come out completely to my liking, then I know I'll have to tackle it from another angle the next time I try.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Novelli

                        I am 100% with you on this Novelli. It's the ingredients that do it for me. I could be in the most amazing kitchen, with over the top equipment and if I only had crap ingredients, I could not be happy to cook.

                      2. My kitchen doesn't have a "Like" button


                        1. If I didn’t read the rest of your posting, I’d say that you don’t HAVE to like it, but it sure does help.

                          I mean, we had a stove with one dead burner, and another with one foot in the ground. There was only one rack in the oven (this was my husbands BC… Before Chrissy as I like to say)

                          Did I LIKE having a crappy stove and an oven with one rack that never kept a consistent temperature? Hells to the no! but guess what, I had fun cooking regardless and I still managed to turn out some awesome meals and entertain friends with really, really good food.

                          I find my inspiration in my memories of foods that I’m trying to recreate, I find inspiration in my family, for wanting to feed them well, I find inspiration in an ingredient sometimes… is there anything more inspiring than that singularly perfect (for you at the moment) ingredient?
                          I don’t need new cabinets, a large space, granite or poured concrete counters, $300 knives, gadgets galore and a Wolf range in order to be inspired or to be able to cook well.

                          Honestly, after reading your full post, my advice to you is change your outlook on this. Use the fact that you’re pared down as a challenge to yourself. Go back to basics. Most can be good cooks given all that accoutrement, it’s the REALLY good ones that can be GREAT with less.

                          1. i dont think you have to like the kitchen you are in, but you have to like being in the kitchen. i do think the former can effect the latter at times, but i think in the end, if you enjoy spending time at the stove, you will find a way to do so, even if the stove isnt your favorite brand or style.

                            1. WOW! Happy to see all of your comments. I truly didn't intend to come across like a spoiled diva but I can see how it can be taken that way. It's apparent that I can count on fellow CH'ers to be so openly vocal. I can honestly say that some of which was said rings true to my situation. Keep the responses coming. Hope to find my happy place in due time.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: letsindulge

                                While in basic agreement with early responders, I also have some real sympathy with one source of your dissatisfaction, which probably has a lot to do with the loss of your personally designed, near-ideal kitchen.

                                There is a real difference between cooking in less-than-ideal kitchens as most of us do while dreaming of what our ideal kitchen would be like, and having actually experienced that ideal kitchen but returning to a less-than-ideal one. Still, it's really all about the food, eh? It's a blessing; keep the focus there, and you'll recover inspiration.

                              2. No, think not. We love our house but we have a very basic galley kitchen...and we've made way great food for 20 plus years here. We opted for a bigger heavy duty stove which was a good investment, not Wolf level and tried to clear the counters on big cooking days. It's a fine place to cook, and we've turned out some great chow.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: berkleybabe

                                  When I finally got to design my own kitchen I was locked into a galley footprint too. At first I felt sorry for myself that I couldn't have the great kitchen island of all the kitchen design books. But then I dug in and made the most of the space I had.

                                  Turns out, even if you do have an island, you pretty much work in the same "triangle" that a galley affords. And, in a galley you're not crossing a space walking *around* an island. So I went with it and added a separate baking area in the service area that used to be the laundry at the end of my kitchen.

                                  Now I can do everything with a minimum of 3 steps and I love it! As long as you can maximize the storage space and, as you say, keep the counters cleared I think it's the *ideal* way to work.

                                2. I'm not a chef, but I do pretty well in my very small and poorly-designed kitchen. This house/kitchen was build in the 1950s before there were coffee makers, mixers, toasters, microwaves, etc. to sit on countertops.

                                  I would love to blow up my kitchen and start again, but I do really well making delicious food in these cramped circumstances. It actually makes me feel proud to put out such great meals when others have more time, money, and space and they can't compare.

                                  Do what you can do. I don't love my kitchen setup but I love feeding friends and family good food. Keep your eyes on the prize.

                                  1. A dear friend had a horrible, cramped apartment in Hollywood (in the Cahuenga Pass) yet she had some of the most fabulous dinner parties! She certainly didn't like her kitchen but that didn't stop her from entertaining.

                                    I would kill for a Wolf range, or a gas range of any sort since I have a crappy electric in my rental apartment. I was chided by a former bf when I bought my AllClad a few years ago since I had never cooked with really good pots & pans until I was housesitting for a friend with a decent gas stove and AllClad. For the first time in my life, I was able to actually follow a recipe and my stove and cookware. At that point I got a great deal on my pots and pans and I swear that has improved my cooking a lot. I guess you could also say it inspired me.

                                    I did a "Redneck Dinner Party" about 4 years ago when I was living in Memphis in an apartment and didn't have any furniture since I had donated everything when I left CA. We ate on tv trays and sat in camp chairs. It was lots of fun!! I didn't have enough stainless flatware (I think I had about 8 guests) so I used my silver! I wrapped up the silver in linen napkins and tied them with a ribbon.

                                    So, to answer your question, you don't have to "like" your kitchen, but you have to like yourself. If you can get your head in the right space, everything else will follow.

                                    1. Liking the people I'm cooking for goes a lot farther than liking the space Im cooking in.

                                      2 Replies
                                        1. re: twyst

                                          amen to that! but i do understand what the OP is saying. i've never had my "dream kitchen" equipped with things like a Wolf range (lucky duck), but i've had decent ones...and i've also had horrible, tiny, barely functional ones. the good kitchens make me *want* to throw big parties, entertain all the time, and spend hours on end in the kitchen. the crappy ones however, always require me to muster up a bit more motivation.

                                          on the flip side, when you don't have high-end appliances or the luxury of space, it can turn you into a more resourceful & creative (and dare i say *better*) cook, because it's gotta get done somehow, right?

                                        2. I learned to cook in a tiny studio apt kitchen, even making full Thanksgiving meals there. When I moved to my current, larger kitchen it certainly made things a lot easier. But most of my inspiration came from wanting to learn to make a good meal.

                                          Would I be totally disappointed and more than a little depressed if I had to go back to the tiny kitchen? Sure. But I wouldn't stop trying to make good food if I did.

                                          1. When we moved into our current house there were many things that needed to be redone. The kitchen took a back seat to the other projects. I think we could have won the ugliest kitchen contest hands down. When the oven door fell off we knew we had to undertake another remodling project. I love my kitchen now but the old one didn't hamper my cooking. The new one just enhanced it with better equipment.

                                            1. Before building my home and designing my own gourmet kitchen, my meals, my attitude toward cooking before that were non-inspiring...don't get me wrong, I've always loved to cook but I see now, with my 48" Wolf with double oven,big island, lots of cherry cabinets, I'm kicking ass on breakfast, lunch and dinner and inspired like nobody's business.
                                              ; )

                                              1. I guess how "nice" ones kitchen is is truly relative- prior to my current apt, my kitchens were always larger but were shared with room-mates (lots of dirty dishes and countertops) and has that weird laminate countertops. Although the older appliances may have actually been better than my current ones, they were chipped and dinged and were basically really "budget" looking (mostly in a beautiful off-white color.) Plus, the lighting was always poor.

                                                Now i have a SUPER tiny kitchen- its one wall of my studio apt and I have literally 18" squared of cooking space. But it's mine alone, the counter is granite (easy to clean!) and everything is newish stainless steel which is easy to keep clean. I've learned the art of prepping (meaning I chop a salad 2 hours in advance and dice ingredients hours before cooking dinner) and cleaning as i go! And oh, the difference a dishwasher can make...

                                                I think I could survive in almost any size kitchen as long as it is CLEAN. I would rather make a simple "15 min prep" meal take 45 mins to prep if i dont have to stare at a dirty counter while I'm dicing. And if I can cook thanksgiving for 12 people in that "kitchen"... i can cook anywhere! And having complete control over my domain inspires me- i'm cooking more than I ever have before!

                                                I can't wait to see how this effects me when I'm in a full-sized kitchen!!

                                                1. I was never interested in cooking until I bought a condo that had a beautiful brand new kitchen with granite and nice appliances. In that condo I learned how to cook. But now, I enjoy cooking anywhere. The apartment I moved to after I sold the condo had a kitchen that only had about 4 feet of counterspace and laminate countertops and a "renter" stove. But some of my most memorable and enjoyable meals I made were in that kitchen, because I entertained friends a lot in that apartment. Then, my most recent apartment had a gorgeous kitchen with granite, viking appliances etc, but as I was moving cross country the Monday after Thanksgiving and all my things were packed and my couch and dining set was sold, I cooked a pseudo-Thanksgiving dinner (cornish hens, stuffing, twice baked potatoes, asparagus) in a friend's studio apartment kitchen with 1 pot, 1 pan, and a table as my only counterspace. His cable was out, so we were forced to *gasp* talk and just enjoy each other's company. I still had a blast, and I will always remember that day and meal much more than the ones I made in the fancy kitchen by myself. So, for me, it's about the overall experience and the people, not just the surroundings.

                                                  1. No. But it does have to be clean and the appliances need to work properly.

                                                    This is the hardest thing when traveling. I'll see beautiful food at a market and wish I had access to a kitchen! I think that's why my preferred way to travel is to rent an apartment so I have a kitchen.

                                                    To be honest, sometimes a kitchen can be too big for me. I have the smallest income (and home) of my siblings and parents. Several of their kitchens are gorgeous and very nicely equipped. The two largest are so big that I can't cook efficiently. But both of those households entertain frequently on a scale where caterers are working out of the kitchens and needing the entire space.

                                                    My kitchen could use more counter space and bigger everything else. It has wonky drawers, battered funky Formica and the shallowest sink ever made. It is not a communal cooking space by any means! But there is something to be said for the ease of only having to take two steps from the cutting board to the stove and two steps to the fridge. I guess I have a 2 step kitchen!

                                                    I'm in the process of trying to buy a new place. As I was pouring my coffee this morning it occurred to how perfect the pots location currently is. I can reach the sink to fill it, I can reach the fridge for half and half, I can reach my flatware for a spoon and reach my coffee cups - all while standing in the same spot. The distance between the sink and the fridge will require a few skips and a jump at the new place. I was thinking of dishware being stored near the dishwasher - more traveling...hmm. I'm sure there are bigger worries, but it does make me appreciate the pluses of my little 2 step kitchen!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: meatn3

                                                      "This is the hardest thing when traveling. I'll see beautiful food at a market and wish I had access to a kitchen! I think that's why my preferred way to travel is to rent an apartment so I have a kitchen."

                                                      Me too. When we were going to the Keys by car I would travel with a knife, cutting board and a cast iron skillet. We stayed in furnished condos but the kitchen supplies were always iffy. With those three things I could do most anything I need to do. We are looking into VRBO vacation rentals by owner more often when traveling

                                                      As far as kitchen size, you get use to what you have.

                                                    2. My kitchen is a bit dated, but with good prep, mis en place, lighting, music, a glass of wine, garlic and olive oil in the pan, I have no complaints.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                        I hear ya. I'm tell you I turned out a lot of good food for over 10 yrs in that POS kitchen before the makeover and I was serious about the oven door falling off.

                                                        You adapt to your surroundings. Well at least I do.

                                                      2. Some of the best chefs and cooks have the humblest of kitchens. Look at Mark Bittman, Judith Jones or Julia Childs. Good cooks and chefs can usually make due with what they have. I would just find a way to make it off beat and charming and go about my business.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                          Funny you mention Judith Jones, I just read this blog post on thekitchn.com and this thread immediately came to mind, so I logged in to come post it, and there you are, mentioning her :) Maybe you read it too. Anyway, a great post, great pictures, and very relevant to this thread: http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/ki...

                                                          1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                            I've noticed this as well. With a chef, after a long day in the kitchen they are often glad to have someone other than them doing the cooking.

                                                          2. The only thing you have to' like' to be an inspired cook is...cooking.

                                                            1. I bet there are quite a few people with immaculate and well-designed kitchens in their homes who never use anything in there save maybe the microwave a couple times per week.

                                                              On the other hand, I imagine there are many people have used poorly-designed and/or cramped kitchens to create some of the most inspired dishes in the neighborhood.

                                                              For me, while surroundings do help, I find I get my inspiration to cook from a myriad of sources these days.

                                                              On the other hand, I do get the "downgrade" factor - once you get used to something on a higher scale, it is hard to go backward. One prime example in these modern times is broadband access - I imagine many people would be driven crazy if they had to revert back to 56 kbps modems to read the CH boards, for instance, but I imagine most would make due.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: josquared

                                                                "josquared Oct 13, 2011
                                                                I bet there are quite a few people with immaculate and well-designed kitchens in their homes who never use anything in there save maybe the microwave a couple times per week."
                                                                my sister! her and her husband had an amazing home built, with my dream kitchen. It has everything I could ever ask for, and the stove literally gathers dust because she cooks so infrequently. She blames it on the fact that it's "just them" now (her and her husband) I think I'd be even more inspired for romantic evenings for two!

                                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                  My BIL and SIL have a total dream kitchen, she's an interior designer/ realtor, and he works for a huge construction contractor. They planned the house for many years, and they don't cook so much, but the kitchen has every bell and whistle there is, and the meals they serve are always great. They're pros in that field, know the current trends and what will sell best if they choose to, and I don't hold anything against them, if I was in their position I'd do pretty much the same kitchen. Except for the cabinet-depth refrigerators, they're great looking until you open the door and the back end is like 14" from the front, I couldn't live with that shit. But it's what's hot right now. And they do know what sells right now. So they don't cook much- why castigate them for it? I'm nothing like an interior designer. :-)

                                                              2. It's definitely all relative and I can understand your pain. My kitchens have been getting progressively larger for the last 15 years. In our current apt, we have pushed into the dining area with shelving, butcher block to make more space. Not perfect, but if I had to go back to my kitchen of 15 years ago, I would be very upset (2 burners, counter top convection/microwave, bar fridge).

                                                                But once I got used to it again, I would be back to cooking everything I managed to produce in that wee space way back when.

                                                                1. I believe it helps to like your kitchen.
                                                                  I was in an apartment with a galley kitchen with college-kid renter grade appliances recently while between houses. I was pretty miserable at first, especially since I knew I would be there for a year. And my change of venue from a kitchen I designed myself to what I deemed the " f*&#&!^ pit" came about as a relocation forced by the loss of mr. gator's job. Imagine the chip on my shoulder then!
                                                                  But the kitchen itself was easy to fix up a bit. I hung lots of cork and tacked up pictures of food I really enjoyed, treated myself to some cool gadgets and organizers for the cabinets, and I really had to learn to wash as I cooked. In the dining area, I got nice bookends and displayed all my cookbooks so they could be right in front of me. Seeing photos of wonderful food was the biggest help.
                                                                  Once you just accept the circumstances, it is pretty easy to get inspired. And now I appreciate having what is my "norm" so very much.

                                                                  1. It's all perspective!

                                                                    A few years back,, my husband and I bought a great old house with a huge kitchen and good stove...not state of the art or anything, but it was the best kitchen that I had ever had...

                                                                    Before that hubby, I had been married to a guy who loved to eat. We used to share cooking, and we enjoyed the process together - it was joyous.

                                                                    Sadly, hubby no. 2, - not a food lover.

                                                                    He never joined me in that great kitchen, and after preparing him and elaborate meal and serving him, I would have to ask him if he liked it. "Yes." was the simple answer, and the end of the food conversation. I always felt so let down...

                                                                    Cooking in that great, eventually became very lonely, and sad..


                                                                    I moved out and into a small apartment.
                                                                    The kitchen is by most people's standards...**simple**.

                                                                    The stove is old, and there is no counter space!

                                                                    My work-space is the dining table..

                                                                    Guess what?

                                                                    I LOVE cooking in that kitchen!

                                                                    I cook with the music blasting, a glass of wine, and I am doing it for love!

                                                                    Love for myself, or ...whoever else I cook for!

                                                                    It's wonderful!!
                                                                    I have been enjoying cooking and baking more than I have done in years.

                                                                    I was actually thinking about doing a little cooking class with friends or co-workers to prove that you can bang out a fabulous meal - even in a completely crappy kitchen! It really can be done!

                                                                    I didn't even take all my gadgets or good pans and cutlery...

                                                                    So - while I can understand reverting to a crappy kitchen might be frustrating - for sure, but, your outlook and perspective are far more important!!

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. If I had to like my kitchen to be inspired I'd never eat! I have a really good fridge, a mid-level gas range, some decent cookware, several sharp knives, and a (portable) dishwasher. My food turns out ok. Though a nicer kitchen with more room and an outside exhausting hood would be nice, I have survived this one for over 20 years.

                                                                      1. We've remodeled 2 kitchens. I cooked in 2 really dark, badly organized spaces before each remodel. But neither time did I get a dream kitchen. No way. But my present kitchen is very pleasant, and I think it functions well. So, I am happy to cook in it. I am looking at making a move, and when I do it will be to a downsized home. Who knows what sort of kitchen we'll be able to find in a home we can afford? I don't look forward to learning a new kitchen, or dealing with one that isn't efficient. So I get what you are going through.

                                                                        So many home cooks cook in cramped, dark, ugly spaces which don't function well. So, welcome to the real world and by the way, you can continue to cook.

                                                                        Other posters have suggested that you make some changes to your kitchen, and I think doing so will make you feel better. I feel that a kitchen should be pleasant and well organized. I hope you can find changes to make yours both.

                                                                        I don't feel that you are spoiled. But I am troubled a bit by the fact that your rental property does not have a well-functioning kitchen. If having a good kitchen is important to you it is also important to your renters. But you are learning that now, aren't you? I'd like you to keep us posted on the changes you decide to make to your kitchen.

                                                                        1. I've learned to work with what I have.

                                                                          My current kitchen is a narrow galley kitchen, with only room for one person. It has a small bit of cupboard, a single sink, and two gas burners - no oven. The kitchen cupboards are at a height that is perfectly designed for wacking your head on. It's not air conditioned, and I live in a sub-tropical climate. There are two power outlets - one involves running a power cord across the kitchen floor, the other requires you to string the cord over the sink. And the cockroaches fly. The refrigerator goes in the main room, as does a stand with a microwave, toaster oven and rice cooker.

                                                                          And by local standards, this is actually a pretty good kitchen - we had to look at a lot of places to find it.

                                                                          I actually think that learning to cook in non-optimal conditions makes you a better and more versatile cook. You learn to plan carefully and be creative - cooking a full Christmas dinner with two burners and no oven takes a lot of improvising. You learn to really understand cooking techniques when you have to adapt them to different equipment. And when you don't have much space, you have to learn to be a tidier cook.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                            I agree that less than optimal conditions push you forward.

                                                                            I used to have a job teaching cooking and developing recipes for a company. No oven was available.
                                                                            That was a huge personal challenge. But it made me explore other options, especially steaming.

                                                                            I still would hate to be without my oven, but it's possible!

                                                                            1. re: meatn3

                                                                              I've gotten amazingly good with the toaster oven. It's about the size of a microwave, and has top and bottom elements, and a temperature control (up to 250 C) and timer.

                                                                              So far, I've managed Christmas cookies, brownies, banana bread, cheesecake, grilled whole fish, small casseroles, foccaccia, scones and biscuits, roast chicken, roast duck and pizza, among other things.

                                                                          2. I think I am more inspired by the grocery stores. We just had to move to a company apartment until we find a house we want to buy. The kitchen is nothing to write home about but the little ethnic stores dotting this neighborhood are fabulous! I have turned out some of my best dishes here in the" just alright" kitchen and have neer been more excited to cook. With every success, it gets better looking and more functional. Now when we have to move, most likely to the burbs with Walmarty places, far far away from my beloved dark and dusty stores, THAT will be a sad day.

                                                                            1. the thing that i just cant get over in my current kitchen (which has a little less to do with food and more to do with cleanup) is the lack of a extendable spray nozzle of any kind on the sink! so much harder to wash dishes (and get stuff down into the garbage disposal!) without it.

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: mattstolz

                                                                                You can install or have installed a faucet that extends and works like the extendable spray nozzle. I like to have this option on my sink, as you do. For pushing food down into the garbage disposer, you can use a dish brush that can we washed daily in the dishwasher.

                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                  If it was anything except an apartment that i am not allowed to make mods to then yes, it would be one of the first things i changed. as yes, i normally use my dish brush or something similar to push things down the drain (i dont just let them sit there dont worry!!) but there is something satisfying about just being able to blast them down the drain with my little water gun haha

                                                                                  1. re: mattstolz

                                                                                    I like to have a water gun in my sink too. Sorry about your situation. I hope there are other compensations.

                                                                                2. re: mattstolz

                                                                                  Yup - I miss one as well...
                                                                                  handy thing it is!

                                                                                3. I have a small condo kitchen. There is no window. It does have a surprising amount of counter space for a kitchen this size (6x9) and more cabinets than I have a right to expect. The fridge died a year ago, so now i have a (not large) decent fridge. The range (electric, no gas in the building) is on it's last legs. One of the large burners still works and I bought a plug in electric burner so i can cook on two burners at once... woo hoo. I do have to be careful as there is only one electrical circuit and if the fridge kicks on while I have the microwave and the toaster going at the same time....

                                                                                  I know what I am going to do with the kitchen, i've decided what appliances I want, where they will go, where I will add plugs, and discovered that the circuit breaker has the capacity for one more circuit. I've picked out the cabinets and the counter top (and repicked them at least twice.) In my mind I try to cook in that kitchen as much as possible instead of the one I'm actually standing in. Like most of us these days some 'circumstances' have to change before the kitchen does, but knowing where its going does make a difference.

                                                                                  1. I have been cooking for more than 40 years. I never had the kitchen of my dreams until 3 years ago and there were still physical limitations on what could be designed into my kitchen. Even so, I've always loved cooking.

                                                                                    I've loved what I could cook and bake. I've loved that I could give pleasure to my family and friends. I've loved the recognition I got for doing something delicious. Equipment and work flow have something to do with that but the quality of ingredients, thoughtfulness of combinations and just plain skills have a whole hell of a lot more. Consequently, I could cook well in the less than up to speed kitchens that we could afford for most of my life and the barely equipped kitchens of vacation rentals. And I'd have to say I cook with more pleasure in the designed to my own needs kitchen that I have now but I'm not sure I really cook *better*.

                                                                                    I'll concede that going backward is probably hard. But screw up your motivation to rise to a challenge and I bet you'll do *wonderful* things and impress yourself. And you'll return to your proper kitchen impressed with yourself and thrilled all over again at the pleasures of a well designed and well equipped space.

                                                                                    PS Good for you for moving the Wolf in! When I designed my present kitchen I chose a free standing dual fuel so that I can take it with me when we sell. And I helped transport it into its space so I know what a physically daunting thing it is to do! Enjoy it!

                                                                                    1. I don't think this is about the kitchen you happen to find yourself in, but about the circumstances that required you to leave the home you loved. Whatever the issue, stress like this can put you off cooking. It will pass, either when you are able to return, or when you realize the termporary has become permanent.

                                                                                      I prefer to cook in a nice kitchen, too, but it's more important that it be well-organized and clean. If the space you're in is badly organized (bad work triangle, not enough storage, whatever), you'd be doing yourself and your future tenants a favor by sorting it out while you're there.

                                                                                      And yes, it's normal to be spoiled. It happens to everyone who moves up a little in the world. You get used to nicer stuff, and if you lose it for whatever reason, you feel bad. But don't complain. Just deal with it by making a nicer kitchen for your next tenants.

                                                                                      1. I suppose it would have an affect, but more often than not I've lived in places with kitchens ranging from only okay to practically non-existent, so I've learned to make it work. I've had dinner parties where I cooked various things in the bedroom (crockpot) and living room (George Foreman Grill); and once had to put cooling racks on my bed when I made multiple bathes of Christmas cookies. Kind of a pain, but not unenjoyable, really.

                                                                                        Laurie Colwin's essay "Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant" is a good reality check if you don't like cooking in your kitchen.

                                                                                        1. well i'm certainly not going to call you "spoiled" since i don't know you, and it's perfectly reasonable that your circumstances and also your new surroundings are affecting your output. because of course, no one likes an ugly kitchen! that said, i've never really had a super nice kitchen, always a renter, and they've usually been pretty tiny. we actually put out good meals from the tiny kitchens - i find you're really forced to learn about the economy of movement. I'd love to have a really great stove in a small-to-medium-ish kitchen (again, if you have to cross the room to get from counter to counter, that's a waste of space, to me) but with lots of counter space. and of course, good natural lighting would make it a dream kitchen.

                                                                                          1. It really helps to "like" your kitchen, but not necessary (at least for me, I "love" cooking enough to compensate). I was a truck driver for 15 years and I have cooked on a camping stove with a cheap set of nonstick cookware in the sleeper of an 18-wheeler for most of those years. For the past three years I have been off the road and now cook in a small (for a farm house) country kitchen that I would remodel if I had the money. I hate the stove (4-burner electric) and the oven (it runs 25F over the set temp) and the lack of a proper pantry. But it is the first kitchen that I have ever owned (I got half the house as a dowry when I married my new wife) and that makes it a little more tolerable.
                                                                                            When you've lived most of your life in the wind, having roots is kinda nice. Even if they come with a kitchen that's not as gourmet as you would like.

                                                                                            1. There's a whole lot I don't like about my kitchen, the worst part being that all the work space except the sink is in the traffic path, and all the dish storage is not. I have plans to reverse that, but I also have a 103-year-old house with a whole lot of much more urgent issues than an unhandy kitchen, and expensive ones besides, so I'll continue to cook where folks walk through. But I've cooked in lots worse, both mine and those of friends, and if there's some good and interesting cooking to be done we'll just deal with the refrigerator door that won't open all the way because the counter's too close, or the oven door that opens over the cat food dish, or whatever Fate sends me. Just please don't ask me to do anything of the sort if the knives won't cut butter, the pans are all battered sheet aluminum, and the electric range has a "range" of ON and OFF.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                When I bought this house, I debated the kitchen.
                                                                                                It's ingress from driveway
                                                                                                with two pathways to living areas....
                                                                                                seemed a bit crowded.

                                                                                                Then just hunkered down, and did some good cookin'.
                                                                                                accepted the traffic and pathways.

                                                                                                K wil never appear in a falutin' high magazine
                                                                                                as I am not the poster child for Southern Living.

                                                                                                But all traffic's been friendly
                                                                                                and I've diced lots of onions
                                                                                                and I've harbored a kitchen
                                                                                                that makes my hearth home.

                                                                                              2. Re-reading the original post here reminded me of a woman we knew in Nashville. She was THE cook for very many years at the Gold Rush, a bar-and-burger joint popular with the Music Row crowd and everyone else, and creator of a sort of burrito she called the Bean Roll, which immediately became their signature dish. She was not a small woman, not fat but quite wide, and the restaurant's kitchen was maybe a foot wider than she was and about that long as well. But she was so focused, so organized, and so calm and peaceful in her attitude, and for I don't know how many years she worked there every day of the week. One year she was persuaded to take a vacation, so she went down to New Orleans and spent her two weeks cooking at Tipitina's!

                                                                                                I shared a kitchen with her once, at a friend's house out in the country - a cast-of-hundreds Sunday afternoon party with music outside and children running through the house - and said kitchen was the main hallway, with sink and fridge on one wall and the range stuck between the back door and the bathroom door. I'd been trying to get my contribution simply onto a platter for what seemed like an hour, when she came in with two bags of groceries, and within minutes had the sink and work table cleared, me chopping vegetables and her frying chicken.

                                                                                                And I never did hear her complaining about any kitchen.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                  When you r so in it,you can't even see a kitchen. awesome post.

                                                                                                2. Nope, definitely not the kitchen that inspires. If that was the case, I'd still be waiting for inspiration to strike. We have a small twin and the kitchen is galley style, with working space of about 9'x3'. The counters, what little I have, are broken up into 3 segments - 12", 12" and 24". Sink and stove are in between. It is cramped. I constantly curse it. But I can COOK in it. I bring my laptop into the kitchen, stick it on the crowded skinny breakfast bar (hey, I have to have a permanent spot for my KA stand mixer, right??), and get my inspiration from various cooking sites. I dream of having a large gourmet kitchen and I will have one some day when we move (hopefully next year). But until then, I curse my kitchen while I cook fantastic meals for my family. :)

                                                                                                  1. I don't think that I have to "love" my kitchen to be inspired to cook or to enjoy cooking, but I do find a correlation between functionality and my enjoyment of cooking.

                                                                                                    I realized this not that long ago while cooking for my family at our place in AZ. The kitchen there is small, with stock appliances and an array of odds and ends for cookware, utensils, etc. At home, I have a large "gourmet" type of kitchen (at least that's how it was advertised on the marketing materials, ha!) with lots of countertops, decent appliances, most of the kitchen tools I need, etc. I was so surprised to realize I love cooking in AZ much more and I think it is for two reasons: 1) the kitchen space, while smaller and much less well-equipped, is very efficiently organized, 2) when I am in AZ, I am on vacation and am relaxed...cooking for friends and family and having good times. I suspect that is the bigger reason I love it there.

                                                                                                    Just my two cents worth.

                                                                                                    1. To be able to move your range is something most would love to be able to do. Am I correct in understanding you are experiencing what your renter does? Enjoy things from a new perspective.
                                                                                                      I have lived in some very small places with kitchens that left a lot to be desired. But looking back, I can honestly say that I had "fun" in those kitchens. To present friends with delicious food, made with love is what it was about for me. Fast forward to today, I have a beautifully designed kitchen with top end appliances, more counter space than I could ever have dreamed of, two additional prep areas with sinks, multi-level counters built specifically to my height (I'm on the short side), a walk in pantry hidden behind a lit china cabinet, even a sitting area surrounded by windows, and find myself dreaming of being in one of those small kitchens again. Perhaps it is due to the fact that the children are gone and it is just the two of us. Maybe it is because we live in the country and don't have the occasional drop in friend(s). So, is it our kitchen that makes us love it or not? I prefer to think it is what resides inside us that brings joy to our kitchens. Once I get through "empty nest" syndrome, perhaps I'll find that love of creating once again.

                                                                                                      1. Absolutely.
                                                                                                        We live in a tiny house we inherited from my MIL. I believe the kitchen was designed by a color-blind person (no offense to anyone) who figured that since frozen TV dinners had just started hitting the market and ravioli was available in a can, that there was absolutely no need to provide any counterspace or lighting, hence it is the ugliest and most un-utilitarian kitchen I've ever had to cook in.
                                                                                                        So what I do is approach it like a boxer approaching the ring. I steel myself, take a deep breath, and I concentrate on why I'm there; I think ONLY about the meal -or the dish- , the process of creating, what I GET out of the creating, and what I want the end result to look and taste like. While I'd LOVE a bright, new kitchen with pull-out cabinets, butcherblock counters and someplace to store my knives, (hell, I'd settle for anything out of the Ikea catalog), I find that if I can just concentrate on what I want to make and how I'm going to do it, I can become temporarily blind to the beige and mustard wallpaper, the cracked vinyl floor, and the sawdust left in the lower cabinets from the drawers above them.
                                                                                                        But when I can afford it, I am going to redo it. In the meantime, I've bought organizers for the pantry, put in a workable spice storage system, and changed the towels, potholders, and plates, cups and bowls to ones that I like.
                                                                                                        I hear your pain, letsindulge. As a chef, you are familiar with industrial kitchens so you know that having tavalera tile isn't that necessary to producing great food, but I'm with you in that, when it's your HOME, it'd be nice to like your kitchen.
                                                                                                        In the meantime, you and I will just have to keep putting the boxing gloves on.
                                                                                                        Good luck!

                                                                                                        1. I absolutely feel your pain. I've never been a professional cook, but I've been enjoying cooking for years now. I've complained about previous kitchens, but the one in the condo I moved to a couple of months ago pretty much takes the cake. I've converted the coat closet into a pantry, put shelves on the back side of the stove in the living room for gadgets - and there are still two boxes of gadgets left to unpack. Dad and I hung a pot rack, which helps. I can't read the numbers on the dial on the stove part of the old electric range. The landlord put in a new dishwasher and fridge, but the fridge is smaller than my previous one. (yeah, I know....whine, whine).

                                                                                                          Oh yeah, and it's just me now, no one to share my food with.

                                                                                                          So yeah, I'm less inspired, as I try to arrange what little cupboard space I have to it's best advantage. I'm sure I'll eventually get settled in, but in the meantime, I'm with ya!

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: tracylee

                                                                                                            "Oh yeah, and it's just me now, no one to share my food with."

                                                                                                            :-( This may have more of an effect than the state of the kitchen.

                                                                                                            1. re: iheartcooking

                                                                                                              I think it really does. The combination of the two makes it harder for me.

                                                                                                              1. re: tracylee

                                                                                                                Yes, I get that now...
                                                                                                                For weeks I have been happy as a clam, enjoying cooking for just myself, or friends, or baking for co-workers...but today I bought ingredients to make a lovely soup for a special friend.., as it turns out, he won't be around, so I'll be cooking the soup for myself...sure, it will freeze well, and I can take him some later on, but somehow, my excitement over cooking , has diminished signigificantly.
                                                                                                                It is definitely more enjoyable to cook with and for someone!

                                                                                                                But, tracylee, most of the time, I really can enjoy cooking for myself...In my crappy kitchen and all!
                                                                                                                When I lived in the UK - my refridgerator was one of those mini things - like a beverage fridge! That was a shock - but, I got used to it...shopping every other day to pick up bits...I actually began to enjoy shopping that way, better!
                                                                                                                Try cooking things for friends and family, and you'll be cooking for love again..just turn up the music and enjoy your own company and accomplishments in the kitchen. Appreciate YOURSELF!
                                                                                                                I do hope your perspective can turn around soon!

                                                                                                                1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                  Thank you so much for the words of encouragement, NellyNel. I did a deep fridge cleanout and have ideas roaming around in my head. I made cheaty breadsticks for a meeting Wednesday night, which were a big hit, and a couple of people in that group love to hear my recipe ideas and ask to have them written down and sent to them, so that helps.

                                                                                                          2. no it would not.
                                                                                                            if i have counter space, a working gas stove, a decent refrigerator/freezer, a good knife, a skillet, and a few decent pots, i can be inspired to cook.

                                                                                                            what will inspire me NOT to cook? a good, cheap, restaurant nearby that does such a good job that i don't even consider myself in their league.
                                                                                                            (one such restaurant that is 14 minutes from my house, serves Mexican seafood prepared in the style of Nayarit and Sinaloa. there is no way i could source nor prepare their quality food for what they charge. . .)

                                                                                                            1. Each to our own space
                                                                                                              we all can embrace
                                                                                                              our place can we cook.

                                                                                                              Been so many spaces
                                                                                                              so tiny, so cramped,
                                                                                                              but cranked out good meals.

                                                                                                              Good mind, good knives,
                                                                                                              and your personal jibes

                                                                                                              1. It will get easier as you settle in, I think. Can you open a window or something? My kitchen has puke green particle board cabinets (one has a mottled orange plastic cutout, which looks like those drinking glasses in diners!) and sunlight and fresh air help. So does clearing off surfaces and making sure everything is clean. Also, if it's cramped, think simple. Make your first course raw, embrace one-pot meals, sear it and move it to the cutting board instead of having two skillets going, use one good vegetable instead of three or four, put away the mixer and make no-knead bread. My cooking style has evolved in cramped quarters, so it might take a little more adjustment for you, but, I think it will get easier.

                                                                                                                1. I think I can probably cook anywhere as long as it is 1) clean, clean , clean - and 2) I have all the tools I need to prepare food.
                                                                                                                  Many (many) moons ago, as a 17 year old rebel, I spent a summer hitchhiking from Ohio to the southeast and back. Several times I ended up at places that had few real pots or pans, barely a utensil.. and even making boxed mac and cheese was a production.

                                                                                                                  That's another story.. But maybe that experience helped make me appreciate what I do have. And to understand what I really do need.

                                                                                                                  Happily, I have a kitchen that is okay. It had just been remodeled before we bought the house in 2007. It's small, but it's attractive, and I added granite countertops. It's not the dream kitchen, but that will come as we continue remodeling and upgrading our house over the years.

                                                                                                                  1. I recently moved from my wonderful spacious kitchen with lots of outlets to a tiny one with almost no counter space and two outlets- and I honestly don't mind. The dishwasher at my old place never got dishes as clean as they do now washed by hand by me, and the limited space forces me to make my mise en place in advance, to be picky about which appliances are left out, and having 1/10 of the counter space means less space to clean! I would definately love to have a better kitchen but I haven't found that the downgrade has impeded my inspiration, in fact it has probably inspired me to be more creative!

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: iheartcooking

                                                                                                                      Good for you- Love it!

                                                                                                                      Also agree that a smaller kitchen means less to clean!

                                                                                                                      1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                        I guess I will be the only dissenter here, but yes, I need a nice cooking space to be inspired to cook. I've lived in plenty of big-city apartments with a 6' galley kitchen and didn't cook much there. When I did cook, it was for parties or special occasions, and it always turned out well. But coming home to that dinky, uninspiring place did not ignite a fire in me to cook. I mostly ate out or had take out in those days.

                                                                                                                        When we looked at our house before buying, the realtor had the wrong key and we couldn't get in so we looked in the windows (it was empty) and I saw a huge farm kitchen with a navy blue, six-oven Aga range and a large fireplace and got tears in my eyes. I knew then it was the house for us. I adore my kitchen, even tho it is outdated and needs some cosmetic renewal, but overall it's perfect for us. I spend most of my days there cooking and baking. My life would not be as joyous without the kitchen. Yes, it inspires me every day because I want to be in that room, even when I may need a day off from the Aga, I still find myself in the kitchen. It makes me happy!

                                                                                                                    2. Buck up letsindulge !

                                                                                                                      A good knife, decent cutting board, and a trip to the market for great simple seasonal local ingredients is all one needs to inspire. IMHO, with those basics and just a stump to sit on, a metal grate, and an open fire, you are in culinary heaven.

                                                                                                                      1. I know there's tons of replies on here already, all saying pretty much the same thing, but I did want to throw in my .02 as well. I'm a poor, single mom, and have pretty much always been poor, living in tiny rentals, with terrible (or no) equipment, and it's never dimmed my love for cooking and whole foods. I've had to cook on burner plates, store food (for a family) in a dorm fridge, make space for pantry goods in closets in other rooms, etc. Until about 5-6 years ago, I didn't even have decent utensils. I rolled out biscuits with glasses, fashioned cutters from tin cans, mashed potatoes and cut lard with a fork, made meringue by hand, and so on. I've never even owned a dishwasher.

                                                                                                                        (Funny story about mixing things by hand: I got my first stand mixer 3 years ago as a Christmas present, but it didn't get used for a few months, because despite the fact that it was sitting on my counter, I could not remember that I had an easier way of doing things. I would only remember I had a stand mixer when, while I was in the middle of making something, my [then] husband would say, "Why don't you use the mixer?")

                                                                                                                        Point being, as had already been made, that there are no earthly limitations for a true passion. Sometimes the task is daunting, but if you have a genuine love for it, you just roll up your sleeves and make it work.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: emilyjh75

                                                                                                                          Great, inspiring story, emilyjh75. You go, girl.

                                                                                                                        2. i like awesome kitchens and awesome cooking ... im tired of being poor...letsindluge.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: hetook

                                                                                                                            rich or poor...whatever..just go for it.

                                                                                                                          2. Wow, do I relate to that! I have almost the identical circumstances but without the Wolf. The small apartment kitchen that I have now is servicable, but just not much fun. It's more of a chore now...but I still do it!