The New Home Economics

Going small and low-tech

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I was recently introduced to the joy and wonder of french press coffee, and as a result we got rid of our old coffeemaker and replaced it with two secondhand french presses that Adam found on eBay (we got two for when we have company).  This corner of the countertop used to be completely dominated by the coffeemaker, but now it’s a nice workspace.  Love it.  Also pictured is our wee stovetop espresso maker.  (It’s the Bialetti Moka Express, if you’re wondering.)

So yeah, I like fancy coffee and I like espresso, but I also like to not have my kitchen countertop be totally dominated by expensive single-use appliances.  I have a giant stove.  Why not use it to heat water for my coffee?  I’ve got 5 burners, for pete’s sake.  I never need more than two for the kids’ daily oatmeal and scrambled eggs.  Plus, now we can make fancy coffee even when we’re camping.

Clearly, the explosion of single-use kitchen products (like this or this or especially this) are what led to people feeling like they needed a huge kitchen.  If a gadget only performs one function (and this applies to choosing plants for  landscapes as well), you have to ask yourself, REALLY ask yourself, is it worth it?  And not just the money it will cost, but also the space it will occupy and the maintenance required.

My kitchen is 82 square feet; the attached breakfast nook is 42 square feet.  It feels huge and spacious to me; it has a great layout.  We do A LOT of from-scratch cooking and we never feel like we are cramped in any way. According to this 2005 article from ABC/Good Morning America (the most recent I could find), the average kitchen size in new home construction is around 300 square feet (or was, as of 2005).  Wow.

Reading this article is fascinating, by the way, because it so clearly captures the mood of the country in 2005.  Check out this quote:

“There’s more money around,” said Barbara Corcoran, a New York-based real estate agent and “Good Morning America’s” real estate correspondent. “People are more vested in where they live. The houses that are driving the housing prices and sizes way up are the ego homes, though. The really rich people.”

Bigger and better seem to be the way to go in housing these days.

These days, indeed.  Too bad they didn’t find room in the story to point out some of the crazy/shady lending practices that were making all that expansion possible.

Full disclosure: we do have some kitchen gadgets.  I love our heavy-duty stand mixer — but it has many different uses beyond simply making cookies.  We make flour with it!  And butter!  And ice cream!  We also have a waffle maker, a food processor, and an immersion blender.  Actually, I guess we do have, uh, quite a few gadgets.  What was the point of this post again?  Oh yeah, that we eliminated ONE gadget from our kitchen…  It’s a start, right?

If you’re feeling like your kitchen is simply not big enough, look around and see how many single-use gadgets you have.  Eliminating even just one or two can really make your kitchen feel more spacious and useful — and save you money in the long run.  Another digression: I recently taught Anneke the phrase “in the long run” and she says it all the time.  It sounds hilarious coming from a three-year-old.

OK, that’s enough of this random post.  Good night.

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