Friday, 21 May 2010

Kitchen English - Part II

Picking up where I left off yesterday...

The Bench.
In the US, I think we call that the countertop, you sort of lose your own language over time, but over here it’s the bench (something I’d sit on in the States). We looked carefully at the choices: wood, granite and something else expensive, I forget what it was called. Wood requires more care and bother than we wanted and you can’t put anything hot on granite or the other thing. The MDF (I believe this is basically covered particle board) has come a long way from what it was when our old bench was installed. We saw more sophisticated joins and protection from water drips underneath the edges, both areas where our old bench had failed after about 15-20 years; actually not a bad lifespan for the cheap option. Another consideration was that we plan to rent this house when we move to Salt Lake City and choosing something that renters couldn’t easily destroy was a priority.

Sadly, with this sort of bench I couldn’t have the Belfast (I kept trying to call them Dublin) sink style that I love, but such is life. We opted for dark brown as it was a warm, but fairly neutral colour that would go with a lot of different paint. The man who came out to take measurements said that wood-looking benches and wood cabinets were often tricky; they didn’t look good if they didn’t match, but oddly neither did it work if they did. We were thinking wood flooring at the time and that would be even more complicated, so we chose something tile-like.

There was a glossy brown finish, but I figured it would show scratches. Turns out the non-glossy finish still shows streaks like crazy unless you dry after washing and who would have thought not showing dirt would be a problem? I practically have to use the Braille system of cleaning as the brown/black/beige camouflages most spills. Still, I like the warm colour and the change. We also got upsplashes, a new word for my vocabulary. This makes the join between the bench and the wall much neater and that was also one of my major goals for this project.

The Sink. As I said, I would love to have had a Belfast sink, but it wasn’t going to happen. My next choice would have been a double sink, like I generally have had in the US. That was going to mean major cabinet changes, so we settled for the 1½ type we already had, only larger. Most sinks here in the UK come with the metal drain board. I’m not a fan as it takes up a lot of counter space but it’s what people expect to have here and Bill thought it would be a disadvantage in terms of rental/sales options. The shape of the new sink is deeper and squarer, and the half sink is much larger and more useful. We kept the old faucet. I won’t go into the details. Bill still can’t understand what I’m getting at. Let’s just say that I have issues with British faucets and will enjoy modern plumbing and temperature control when we live in the States.

The Pantry. This is a small closet that takes up the space under the stairs. Years ago, I had Bill add shelves, particularly one under the small window, which I’ve always thought a neat little architectural touch, if useless. Who needs a window in a closet? I suppose it does provide some light during the day. The neighbours stack cereal boxes or cleaning products against the glass in their pantry windows. I’ve arranged a row of blue glass bottles in mine, so it looks cute from the outside. Bill thinks that’ of my more endearing qualities, I’m sure. Anyhow, this shelf under the window has been useful so long as we had a short, canister type Hoover. Actually, it was a Dyson, but Brits don’t say ‘vacuum cleaner’, they say ‘Hoover’. I hated that last one and we got an upright, which I don’t understand much better, but can use it in a pinch. Bill tends to do the vacuuming and dusting around here, bless him, as he has the lower tolerance threshold. We took out that shelf so that the upright Dyson can live in there, along with the broom which has previously lived in the back porch or the garage, which was a nuisance. I’ve moved the plastic container for plastic bags and the recycling bucket into the pantry as well. It will save me opening the back door into the un-heated porch in winter time another contribution to a warmer kitchen.

One more part to follow...

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