In the comments on last week’s post reviewing my AGA Elise range, reader Julie S. asked how/where I did my chopping and prep work, as my wall only allows for 15″ of countertops on either side of the range. So I thought it would make a good post!
First off, I completely agree with her that more counter on either side of your stove is ideal — at least 18″, and 24″ if possible.
However, I’ll just counter with these 2 words:
In an old house (at least in an old house where tearing down less-well-considered changes in favor of better ones is not possible for budget or other reasons), sometimes you have to weigh your priorities & your options and make do with a less-than-perfect choice.
In this instance, that wall was the best place for a stove, and I REALLY wanted that 48″ range to accomplish all my culinary dreams. 15″ for counters on either side was all we could eke out. It’s large enough for me to put things on — pots, bowls, plates, ingredients — but not large enough for prep work.
So, Julie’s point is super valid. Where DO I do my prep?
My Chopping Station
When planning this kitchen out, I knew that — because of space limitations and our priority for having a “keeping” area with a wood stove — the majority of my storage and counter space would be in a single run. I also knew I’d have to have a stand-alone fridge (ok in a historically-inspired kitchen).
To create “zones,” I divided the long run into 2 halves separated by the sink:
- Left of sink: (Most) Food prep zone. Snack pantry, small appliances, fridge, microwave, chopping station, garbage.
- Right of sink: Dishes & baking. Dishwasher, plate rack/shelves, drawers for utensils, roasting pans, bowls, and baking pans.
I have a large 20″ cherry-wood cutting board that sits out almost all of the time to the left of the sink in my “food prep” zone.
To create my “chopping station,” I store all of my knives in the shallow drawer directly below the cutting board.
So all I have to do is whisk one out and start chopping!
The chopping station in my food prep zone is actually pretty key to my layout — it’s on the side of the kitchen that is closer to the refrigerator where all the veggies & meat are stored. That way, I don’t have to cart a ton of separate veggies (whole OR chopped) from the fridge across the kitchen to stove.
Here’s a pic from the photo shoot with Old House Journal, so you can see the orientation of my chopping station to the refrigerator.
(The magazine shoot didn’t include my cutting board.)
Although we invested in custom cabinetry (we had to, in order to make every inch count), I did NOT invest in custom drawer inserts. Instead, I used this cork & bamboo knife dock drawer insert.
At 13″ wide, it still allows another 9″ of space in the drawer for me to play with. I’m currently storing our steak knife boxes in that 9″, but that may change.
If, for example, I get to keep collecting knives, I have room for this additional insert!
The garbage drawer is right below the knife drawer. This way, when I’m done chopping, I just sweep the remains into the can.
My cutting board has these nifty little hand-holds in the sides. I just use those to carry my board full of chopped veggies (or meat, if that’s what I’m cooking), over to the stove. I either place it on the counter, or sometimes even on top of the range itself, if I’m not using all the burners (a rare occasion, there being 5!)
The cutting board is used DAILY. To keep it looking great and to prevent cracking & warping, I treat it with this oil/wax combo.
For our Forever Home “Remuddle Remodel” kitchen, I really went for as much authenticity as I could in the main elements — marble counters, pine floors, custom cabinetry, unfitted elements like our antique center table, a keeping area, etc.
If that came, somewhat, at a price in terms of American standards of efficiency, I was willing to deal. Even so, our kitchen is SO much more efficient than it used to be! Form usually follows function in importance, for sure. But form is highly important, in and of itself, to create the sense of beauty, harmony, history, & balance that adds to our emotional well-being, as well!
A quick reference guide of the items in my chopping station:
A chopping station is a great way to add efficiency even to a non-renovated kitchen. 🙂
And a pin to remember me by!
Any other questions?
See you next Saturday!
PS — I’ll be opening enrollment again for my 8-week online course “The Home Glow Method, my Step-by-Step System to Decorating Your Forever Home For Keeps” again in just a couple of months.
Head to the info page for an overview and a few testimonials from the Fall 2020 Class of The Home Glow Method. Be sure to get on the waitlist so that you don’t miss the short enrollment period!