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Credit: Ana Kamin
The author sings the power of utensils crocks and this photo (not her kitchen) is more proof that she's right!
Forever Kitchens

I’ve Had the Same Kitchen for More Than 40 Years; Here Are the 5 Best Things I Ever Did for It

updated Mar 3, 2020
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I’ve been cooking in the same kitchen, on the same gas range, for more than four decades. And while it’s most definitely not what you’d call a dream kitchen, my space serves me just fine — better than fine, really. It’s not too tiny, and it has a window that fills the space with light. The cabinets and the appliances are white and inoffensive. And without spending a fortune, I’ve made a few small improvements that have made it a pleasure to work in my kitchen. 

Credit: Sharon Franke

Here are the best things I’ve ever done for my kitchen during the 40-plus years I’ve been cooking in it.

Credit: Sharon Franke

1. I installed a butcher block table.

The first thing I did after moving in was install a large wooden table that serves as a super-sized cutting board. You’ll never find me struggling to mince parsley on a tiny little board. When I’m chopping a bunch of ingredients at once (say, onions, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, and cabbage for a minestrone soup), I can line up each vegetable in a separate pile. My kitchen may be small, but my workspace is huge! 

Credit: Sharon Franke

2. I hung a peg board wall.

I don’t have a lot of cabinet or drawer space, but I do have a lot of tools and gadgets. (I tested kitchen gear for the Good Housekeeping Institute for more than 30 years!) Right after I put my butcher block table in place, I lined the wall above it with a giant peg board. That’s where I have my workhorse skillets hanging as well as my colander, whisks, and all the other tools I use all the time. I make sure to return everything to the same place, so I always know where everything is and don’t waste time searching for the pizza wheel or the corkscrew. 

Credit: Sharon Franke

3. I put down a cushy vinyl floor.

No, it’s not the trendiest choice, but it’s not half bad and it’s super-comfy underfoot, which is key when you spend as much time in your kitchen as I do. I also like that the bright blue adds a cheerful element to a fairly utilitarian space. And it’s super easy to clean with a Wet Swiffer.   

Credit: Sharon Franke

4. I added crocks, crocks, and more crocks.

Containers of all kinds border my worktable and sit on the back of my range. I keep like things in the same crock: all the spatulas in one, mixing utensils in another, pastry brushes in another, and so and so on. They look pretty all lined up and they make me more efficient, as I always know where to find things. I also love that I don’t have to struggle to get, say, a ladle in and out of a drawer!

Credit: Sharon Franke

5. I added an attachment to my faucet.

Talk about a small thing that made a big difference! By adding a $15 gadget to the end of my faucet, I created a little spa space for my dishes. Instead of a single stream of water, it now sprays in a shower-like effect while increasing the pressure. It makes it so much easier to rinse off soapy dishes! And results in fewer splashes! And it saves water! Just screw it into place and you’re good to go.

How long have you been cooking in your kitchen? What are some of the best things you’ve ever done for your space?